If I remember rightly - and I'm not sure I do - I said that the first level of Super Mario Bros. is so recognisable to people that even people who have never played it know what it is and where it's from.
With the bright greens and the wee diddy Mario and an apple or two dangling out of nowhere, maybe this screenshot from Super Mario World does the same thing.
Most of my Mario experience has been with the Game Boy, or with various forms of Mario Kart, but this image is still so recognisable to me that it defines Mario on the SNES, and it barely contains anything. But maybe it's just me. Maybe I recognise it so much because that's mostly all of Super Mario World I've played.
Yeah, I've seen far more of Super Mario World than I've played. I don't think I ever played it on the SNES itself, either. No amount of Super Mario All-Stars comes close to absolving me of that sin...
Still, I must stop babbling and save the Princess. Again.
Super Mario World was a statement of intent from Nintendo. The newly launched SNES needed a fantastic launch line up, and that lineup would need to show how much improvement had been made with this slab of grey plastic compared to the older slab of grey plastic.
Enter Super Mario World, a combination of everything that worked in the last games, fine tuned, stripped of stuff that we just don't care about and given yet more power-ups to play with and situations to find ourselves stuck in. Spin jumps, gliding, riding dinosaurs - it's got all sorts.
Of all the Mario games I've played for this blog so far, and of all the versions of them, this is the Mario that I want to go through properly some day. The earlier games have a safe spot on this 1001 list, of course they do, but I don't feel the urge to persist through them as much as I do with Super Mario World.
It's hard to pin down why, though. I would say it's the art style and graphics, first and foremost. While Super Mario All-Stars has the same look, it feels like a skin has been slapped on top of an old game. Here, everything looks great, and looks great together.
I always bring up the controls with Mario games, and the argument of 'if you're used to the speed of one game, it might take a while getting used to the speed of another'. Not only did I find myself getting up to speed with this game faster than the other games, but I found myself then not caring about using any of that speed and exploring the levels as though I was in an open world title.
The clock didn't matter to me as I took things at my own pace, learning from the environmental hints, as well as from failure, and from floating speakers that spew paragraphs of plot and points of advice at you.
It was stress free Mario, and that was great.
Of course, I still made silly little mistakes that set my progress back and wound me up a little. Such is gaming - patience and practice are all you need, it's only a game...
The plot is somewhat generic by now, one might argue. Once again, the Princess has been kidnapped and once again, Bowser is to blame. The plot points are delivered with paragraphs of text written in a not too friendly to read font, but that's the SNES for you. Skim read and move on with the game, I say.
And what a game you'll move on into. Super Mario World is, as ever, packed with levels designed to challenge in all kinds of ways, and capped off with boss fights to test your skills.
Look at how cheerful that map screen is. Don't you just want to stop writing and go back to playing it for a bit longer? I do, but I've challenged myself to finish this post and 801 more, so I best get moving.
If you're going to play only one Mario title from this list (so far) then it has got to be this one. You probably know that already, but it's worth stressing the point sometimes.
Go play it.
Despite being worked on for three years, developer Shigeru Miyamoto thought that this game was rushed and that the SNES and its games library would be capable of far more in the future.
Super Mario World, developed by Nintendo EAD, first released in 1990.
Version played: SNES, 1991, via emulation.