The second Saturday morning series and third overall based on the Super Mario Bros. franchise, Super Mario World was based on the video game of the same name that served as the launch title for Nintendo’s brand new Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super Famicom in Japan).
The SNES was developed after Nintendo’s sales began slipping to competitors NEC Home Electronics’ PC Engine (or TurboGrafx-16 in North America) and Sega’s Mega Drive (also known as the Genesis) in the late 1980s. Both systems were 16-bit and outperformed the original NES in both graphics and sound. The console was designed by Masayuki Uemura and was launched in Japan on November 21, 1990 to instant success.
Super Mario World was one of the launch titles for the system, and was bundled with the North American version upon its release the following year. The game was directed by Takashi Tezuka and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, with Shigefumi Hino as the graphics designer. The game was a bit of wish-fulfillment on the part of the production team as after they had completed the original game they wanted to have Mario riding on a dinosaur. But, that was not graphically possible until the SNES came around.
World (known as Super Mario Bros. 4 in Japan) had Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach travel to Dinosaur Land to recuperate from their battle with Bowser. However, Bowser had also chosen that place with his Koopalings to rebuild his forces and attack anew. Bowser had kidnapped the Princess again and imprisoned the citizens of Dinosaur Land in magical eggs. Mario and Luigi freed one of them, Yoshi, and together they set out to stop Bowser, free the dinosaurs, and save the Princess.
|Mario, Luigi, Toadstool and Yoshi.|
The game introduced several new elements to the franchise. Yoshi, for instance, could eat enemies with his long tongue and, depending on what kind of enemies those were, would gain a special ability like flight or fireball breath. Eating berries also caused Yoshi to lay an egg containing a power-up. New power-ups included the Cape Feather, which gave the brothers a golden cape that allowed them to take off from a running start and glide through the air, and a Power Balloon that allowed them to inflate for a limited time and fly. Enemies included some returning classics and new Troopas, such as Chargin’ Chuck, a turtle in football gear; Dino Rhino, a slow-moving dinosaur; Dino-Torch, a small dinosaur that breathed fire; Fish Bone, a slow-swimming fish skeleton; Monty and Mega Moles, which were evil moles that came in small and giant size, respectively; and Wiggler, a happy caterpillar that became enraged when jumped on. The extra item system from Mario Bros. 3 was refined to include the ability to hold an extra item in the actual game screen rather than having to return to the overworld map to access it.
|Mario trying to teach the Cave People football.|
As a result of the new game and its popularity, DiC Entertainment and Reteitalia, S.p.A. began work on a new animated series incorporating elements of the game. Super Mario World was largely a continuation of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, featuring the same cast and most of the same characters. However, a new animation studio, Pacific Rim Productions, Inc., was used on the series resulting in similar but noticeably different character designs. The series would follow the game fairly closely while taking some liberties with the names of some locations and characters, as well as maintaining continuity with the earlier Mario Bros. shows.
|Oogtar being eaten by a piranha plant.|
The series focused on Mario (Walker Boone) and Luigi (Tony Rosato) living with Princess Toadstool (Tracey Moore) in Dinosaur Land (sometimes called Dinosaur World). Unlike the game, the land was populated by cavepeople as well as dinosaurs. Mario often spent a lot of time trying to make the cavepeople’s lives easier by introducing modern inventions that they were currently living without, such as cars and television. Taking the place of Toad from the previous shows was Oogtar (voiced by Toad’s actor John Stocker), a pre-adolescent caveboy. The heroes were also joined by Yoshi (Andrew Sabiston), a curious child-like dinosaur with a large appetite and numerous phobias that was discovered as an egg by Luigi. Following the Marios to Dinosaur Land was King Koopa (Harvey Atkin) and his Koopalings (who retained their Mario 3 cartoon names): Bully (Dan Hennessey), Kooky (Michael Stark), Big Mouth (Gordon Masten), Hip and Hop (both Tara Strong), Kootie Pie (Tabitha St. Germain) and Cheatsy (James Rankin). Of the entire cast, only Atkin and Stocker appeared in all three Mario cartoons. The Cape Feather made an appearance, used primarily by Mario, and the Fire Flower returned with a new design making it resemble an orange rose.
Super Mario World debuted on NBC on September 14, 1991. The show’s episodes typically ran 11 minutes and were paired up with episodes from the third season of Captain N: The Game Master for a half-hour block called Captain N and the New Super Mario World. It was written by Kristofor Brown, Eleanor Burian-Mohr, Paul Dell, Jack Hanrahan, Phil Harnage, Perry Martin, Martha Moran, Frank Ridgeway, George Shea, Brooks Wachtel and Steven Weiss. The series’ theme was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh and was played over an intro animated by Canvas, Inc. The intro featured a noticeably higher quality of animation than the rest of the show, which likely suffered to the same budget cuts that plagued Captain N’s third season quality.
The show ran for a single season of 13 episodes and was cancelled along with Captain N as NBC sought to move away from animation into more teen-oriented programming following the success of Saved by the Bell. It was the shortest-lived of the three Mario shows. World was later shown from September 1992 to September 1993 in the syndication package Captain N & The Video Game Masters along with Captain N, The Legend of Zelda and Mario Bros. 3. From 1994-1997, World was paired up with reruns of 40 of the cartoon portions of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show for the syndication package Mario All-Stars (named after the compilation game that included all the original Mario console games and later World). All-Stars aired six days a week on the The Family Channel and on USA Network on weekdays.
|Mario World on DVD apart from Captain N.|
Unlike the other Mario shows, World didn’t see as wide a home video release in North America. “The Night Before Cave Christmas” was included on the 1996 VHS Super Mario Bros. Super Christmas Adventures from Buena Vista Home Video. Two VHS tapes were released in the United Kingdom, however. In 2007, Shout! Factory and Vivendi Entertainment in North America and Roadshow Entertainment in Australia released Captain N and the New Super Mario World to DVD after legal issues involving Yoshi’s use were resolved. In 2013, NCircle Entertainment released the complete series independent of the Captain N segments in two volumes, later collected into one volume.
Originally posted in 2017. Updated in 2019.