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Super Mario World 2 is a direct sequel to the SNES cartridge game Super Mario World. The game takes place almost immediately after the original. Upon returning from Dinosaur Land, Mario, Luigi, and Princess Toadstool throw a massive party at Toadstool's castle, celebrating their return and also honoring Yoshi for his help. The party, however, is crashed by an angry Bowser and his Koopalings, who kidnap Toadstool and Yoshi and send the brothers flying to the other end of the Mushroom Kingdom. Bowser's Koopa Troop has taken over the entire kingdom and the two Mario brothers must fight their way back to Toadstool's castle to save her.
The game has eight main worlds, unlike the original which had only seven. Also unlike the original, each level has a name, so instead of something like “Yoshi's Island 1”, you'd have “1-1: Koopas On The Beach”. There are 120 total “goals”, with around 75 total levels spread out over the eight main worlds and two secret worlds. Once the second secret world is clear, you can elect to play as Luigi in a single-player game (otherwise he's only available for multiplayer). The eight worlds are as follows:
- World 1: Mushroom Beach (A beach-themed world similar to Yoshi's Island in the original, with a few more swimming parts added in.)
- World 2: Steamy Jungle (A jungle-themed world)
- World 3: The Crystal Sea (An entirely aquatic based world except for a large undersea dome at the end where a couple of levels take place)
- World 4: Creepy Caverns (A world of caves and mysterious passages, somewhat similar to Vanilla Dome)
- World 5: Heroic Heights (A sky-themed world with a mountain level or two)
- World 6: Toad City (A big city with towering crystal buildings)
- World 7: Barrel Volcano (Fire-themed worlds)
- World 8: Bowser's Factory (Bowser's stronghold, a massive factory complex he's built around Toadstool's castle)
- Secret World 1: Mushroom Kingdom 3000 (A group of futuristic levels)
- Secret World 2: Rainbow Road (Based on the Rainbow Road from Super Mario Kart, features eight ultra-challenging levels, equivalent to SMW's Special Zone)
The game can be regarded as sort of the Super Mario Bros. 3 to Super Mario World's Super Mario Bros., more of an incremental update than a total gameplay overhaul. Graphics and sound are vastly improved, the SNES CD allows for improved animation on the characters and very detailed and animated backgrounds, with a well-defined soundtrack. Gameplay-wise, a double jump has been added to Mario's repertoire, if he's running he can jump once and once he lands he can jump again to reach new heights. The Fire Flower and Cape return, along with the Frog and Tanooki Suits from Super Mario Bros. 3. In addition, there's a Mini Mario “power-up” that allows Mario to get smaller to reach secret passages, and finally there's a Jet Mario powerup that enables him to travel incredibly fast (some critics pointed out that this seemed to be deliberately aimed at Sonic's speedy reputation), when Mario is running fast he can blast right through enemies and leap long distances but it takes a while to slow down so pitfalls become a major hazard. The Koopa Kids return as bosses, one per world, with Iggy first as usual, then followed by Larry, Roy, Morton, Wendy, Lemmy, and finally Ludwig. The Koopa Kids don't fight Mario directly, however. Instead they either mount huge machines or summon large creatures to battle Mario, always related somehow to the world's main theme. Secret exits are of course still present, with one secret exit even present in the initial beach world. The game is a BIT more difficult than Super Mario World overall but still a fairly easy game for platforming veterans, however, the level design is much more intuitive and creative. Branching paths in some levels give players more choices about what sorts of challenges they want to tackle (and add to the replay value of the game), other levels (particularly ghost houses, fortresses, and castles) feature a variety of hidden doors and traps to keep players guessing.
The game also notably featured the debut of Charles Martinet as the voice of Mario and Luigi. Mario's voice could be heard mostly in the form of shouts or a few words as he made his way around levels. The game introduced the idea of a more mild-mannered, friendly Mario, as opposed to the gruff Brooklyn voice from previous adaptations of the game. The game featured a few cutscenes (not animated, but shown in a series of images and on-screen narration) between worlds, showing Mario and Luigi adventuring, or Toadstool in Bowser's castle (sometimes trying to escape, sometimes showing kindness to the Koopa Kids or once even to Bowser). It gave the main characters of the series some personality and the game received praise for its limited but amusing narrative which added a bit of flavor and plot to the action of the game.
Launched in North America for the Super Nintendo CD on April 5, 1993 (the PAL release would come on April 26). The game is launched to rave reviews from a variety of gaming publications, including two of a possible four perfect 10s in Electronic Gaming Monthly, a perfect 40 in Famitsu (the first ever), perfect 5s from Gamepro, and many many more. The game sells over 200,000 copies on launch day in North America, making it thus far the biggest opening day for an SNES CD game. The game gets a 24-page cover story in Nintendo Power, which covers the first five worlds of the game (the magazine teases the remaining three worlds and mentions the existence of at least one secret world, then advises readers to buy the 204 page Official Player's Guide for more tips). It also becomes the second SNES CD software release to get coverage on mainstream news stations (the first being the controversial light gun game Mad Dog McCree) and the first to be mentioned in a positive light. It drives sales of the peripheral and combo set in both North America and Japan, the former to its largest sales week to date (in Japan the launch week was slightly better). Nintendo executives, particularly Hiroshi Yamauchi, are pleased with the game's success. There are two other games released for the Super Nintendo CD on that day: Classics Of Great Literature, more of an educational tool than a game, which featured the texts of ten great classic novels and offered quiz games based on them, and an adaptation of SimEarth: The Living Planet, which would later that year make its way to the Super Nintendo cartridge system in a slightly less detailed version. Due to being overshadowed by the juggernaut release of Super Mario World 2, the game becomes an instant cult classic, though it's not as well loved as the SNES' 1991 release of SimCity. Super Mario World 2's release signals to the gaming world that the SNES CD is here to stay, and signals to Sega that Sonic CD will need to be an all-time great to top it.