The first Special World level, Gnarly, is much easier than the Nintendo Hard Star World 5 and That One Level Tubular that follows it. It's very short, with only five easy-to-handle enemies (the only ones that might be a little challenging don't get to stay on screen for very long).
The secret level Groovy is preceded by Tubular, Way Cool and Awesome. Groovy itself is an easy grass land level which is even featured on the title screen with the only hazards being the baseball-throwing Chargin' Chucks and Pokeys, which Yoshi can eat. This is the reason why the level was chosen to serve as the main title's demo—and as the Ground theme for Super Mario Maker.
Even "Way Cool" can qualify as this, considering it's sandwiched between Tubular and Awesome. The lined platforms are rather easy to follow (even much so than Cheese Bridge) and if you have a Yoshi with you, you can skip through half of the level to go through a very easy flying segment.
The Star World itself is a friendly world compared to the regular worlds it's connected to, as all of the levels except for Star World 5 are reasonably easy, with secret exits that aren't too difficult to reach. This, of course, leads to the Special World.
Funky, the last level of the Special World, is a step down from Outrageous in terms of difficulty. The only real hazards are the tight time limit (which Yoshi can extend by eating green berries) and the Sumo Bros.
Chocolate Island 5 is much easier than the levels both preceding it and following it, being short, containing few enemies, and only a few, easy platforming sections.
Contested Sequel: Trying to figure out whether or not Super Mario World is better than Super Mario Bros. 3 will get you a variety of answers. Fans of 3 cite the more plentiful power ups, slightly smoother controls, higher number of levels (90 versus 73), the addition of Airship levels (absent in World) and a more satisfying narrative. World fans prefer its smoother level of difficulty, longer levels, availability of secret exits, addition of Ghost House levels (obviously not present in 3) and the introduction of Yoshi. Most will admit to enjoying both, however.
Magikoopas - with their ability to cast aimed and very hard-to-avoid projectiles, appear in inconvenient spots, and respawn - are one of the most dangerous enemies in the game. This is especially evident in ROM Hacks where they are inserted in Auto-Scrolling Levels and block-oriented puzzles.
Fishin' Boo. His flame's animation is a bit sloppy meaning it sort of teleports across the screen, meaning it can easily hit you when you wouldn't expect it to. Thankfully, there's only one in the entire game. However, he tends to be used rather frequently in ROM hacks, especiallyKaizo hacks.
The Chargin' Chucks. Even when you're on Yoshi (who can kill a lot of enemies in one hit) they take three hits. After every hit you're thrown right off of them and into their path as they try to charge you, giving very little time to recover. Oh, and they can use a wide variety of tactics against you as well, from kicking footballs, to throwing baseballs, to splitting into three Chucks. Have fun.
Disappointing Last Level: Bowser's Castle is likely to be a letdown in difficulty after all the fortresses encountered earlier. There is choice of 8 routes to take through the Castle but you only need to pick two gauntlets, which greatly reduces the how difficult things could be. Even if you pick the hardest paths, they are not as demanding as what you've already seen in the game. Becomes even more so if you complete the Valley Fortress and enter through the Back Door, skipping the gauntlet section altogether and starting on the relatively easy final stretch before Bowser's boss doors. Even Larry's Fortress before the regular entrance is more likely to give players difficulty.
Fanfic Fuel: The creation of Lunar Magic in 2000 spawned a lot of unofficial derivative hacks based on Super Mario World.
Fandom-Enraging Misconception: This game isSuper Mario Bros. 4, so don't ask Nintendo to make one. Got it? Game mods with that name can cause similar reactions, too, unless the mod in question is an intended Mythology Gag to the Japanese name.
Yoshi. While riding Yoshi, Mario can walk over or bounce off of a lot of hazards and enemies, and KO enemies that normally require a spin jump in one hit, Yoshi can grab power-ups or eat enemies with his tongue, he can take a hit from enemies in Mario's place, and by eating colored shells he can shoot fireballs, fly, or release dust clouds when he lands that damage enemies. And, infamously, Mario can jump with Yoshi and then leap off of him in midair to do a Double Jump. Yoshi is an invaluable partner in many levels, and if you get a Blue Yoshi from the Star World, then any shell it swallows lets it fly.
The Cape. It lets Mario fly over many, many levels, gives him access to a spin attack that can kill or stun many enemies and flips rotating blocks, lets him slow his descent when falling, and he can do a dive bomb to damage enemies. The Spin Attack can also One-Hit Kill Chargin' Chucks. Mastery of the Cape trivializes a lot of the game's platforming.
The spin jump not only lets you destroy certain enemies that require multiple jump attacks to kill (or can only be incapacitated by jumping) but even allows you to safely bounce off of 90% of the ones that would hurt you if you hit them with a regular jump, with the only tradeoff being a reduced jump height. The move is so powerful that many ROMhacks that go into altering the mechanics of the game end up disabling it entirely.
If you quit a previously completed level, you are allowed to keep whichever items you currently have. This means players can return to the early levels, play through them until they acquire both Yoshi and a power-up, then leave through the pause screen, causing Mario to return to the world map with everything needed to progress through the game. Most subsequent Mario games would address this exploit by reducing you back to small Mario and stripping you of anything earned in the level other than extra lives when you quit.
The same method can allow you to exit out a level moments before death, which is useful for going for some of the riskier secret exits. But also similar is that later games address this by disabling the quit feature if you weren't on steady ground.
If you found the secret exit from Donut Ghost House, congratulations - the Secret Area gives you free Fire Flower and Cape power-ups any time you need them, has a Yoshi egg, and the Donut Ghost House secret exit is accessed right from the start of the level and has four 1-ups at the end. You essentially now have infinite lives and power-ups as long as you're willing to make the walk back.
In Super Mario Advance 2, the powerup given for Yoshi eating ten berries depends on what color Yoshi is, and what color Yoshi is coming out of an egg depends on which powerup Mario currently has, as long as you've acquired that colored Yoshi in the Star World (though this aspect is possible in the original as well). Red Yoshi correlates to Fire Mario, Yellow Yoshi correlates to a Super Star and small Mario, respectively, and Blue Yoshi correlates to Cape Mario. This creates a self-renewing cycle of game breakage, as Cape Mario can get a Blue Yoshi from any block that contains a Yoshi egg, and Mario riding a Blue Yoshi can get a free Cape feather as long as the level has berries for Yoshi to eat.
Luigi in Super Mario Advance 2 is far more broken than in any other 2D Mario game. Combine the floatiness of his jumps from Super Mario Bros. 2 with the tighter control and higher jumps in general of this game, and platforming is completely trivialized even without the cape. Yoshi's exclusive ability with Luigi to spit out enemies rather than swallow them allows you kill things that Mario otherwise either can't harm or has great difficulty dealing with.
The Wiggler glitch in Forest of Illusion 1 makes Scoring Points ridiculously easy in the SNES version. Although the points cap is significantly lower, as there's one less digit allocated to the score display.
The final level of the Special World has a gimmick in the form of Green Berries which increase your time by 20 when you eat them. The music speeds up whenever time the goes under 100. Combine these two things and you get music going outlandishly fast, sometimes dubbed the "Ludicrous Speed glitch". (Note that this doesn't work in Super Mario Advance 2.)
The fact that Mario can still die after crossing the goal posts, not to enemies, but to stage hazards, is a feature the game designers mercifully opted not to use, but readily exploited in customizable ROM Hacks. Until the Iris Out animation finishes, the victory doesn't count.
Super Mario Western by Hyadain, a lyrical remix of World 1's theme featuring decidedly Gonk and skeevy depictions of Bowser and Marionote oddly, Bowser looks more or less like his Super Smash Bros. incarnation, is often used to depict love triangles - love quadrangles if one counts poor Luigi, who's depicted as being a more handsome man than his brother. A variant turns everyone including Bowser into Bishōnen and Peach is even cuter.
Throughout the game, Mario performs various methods of destroying castles after defeating the resident Koopaling. This has led to the "Mario's Castle Calamity" meme, wherein Mario tries to demolish a Nigh-Invulnerable castle with methods that always blow up in his face.
Even if Luigi is the one that defeats one of the Koopalings and destroys a castle, Mario is still the one that gets credit for it in the text. Unsurprisingly, this turns up in "Luigi gets no respect" memes.
Jokes about Mickey Mouse being an enemy in the game due to the gloved hands that send out the Torpedo Teds resembling Mickey Mouse's. It sometimes gets to the point of speculating that Disney took notice and sabotaged the Super Mario Bros. movie in retaliation.
Memetic Psychopath: The Video Game Cruelty Potential involving Yoshi makes this game a popular target for giving Mario this status. Many jokes have been made about Mario dropping Yoshi into pits to get a boost (rarely if ever mandatory in game) or how the sprites make him look like he's punching Yoshi in the head to get him to stick out his tongue or shoot fire (while this was the original intention, it was changed in the final product to just Mario pointing as the crew decided that this would make him seem too cruel).
The sound of Spin Jump bouncing off of things like Thwomps and Podoboos. When you chain enough stomps to get 1-Ups, this sound also gets added when you bounce off an enemy.
Scrappy Mechanic: The special graphics that replace the existing ones when you complete the Special World are entertaining to look at, but the replacement is permanent, which means if you want to keep the original graphics without making a new save file, you have to not complete the Special World. This got fixed in non-Virtual Console rereleases.
1: The ability to re-enter levels makes the supply of power-ups and extra lives unlimited. Furthermore, a previously-beaten level can be exited at any time, and the player is allowed to keep any powerups or lives they got.
2. Both Yoshi and the cape are game-breakingly powerful compared to items in prior games.
3. Spin-jumping renders Mario invulnerable to many hazards, and can be performed at any time.
4. The ability to store a reserve powerup means that the player is rarely stuck anywhere without a powerup.
5. The Switch Palaces, when completed, neuter many of the hazards throughout the levels, turning the game into a de facto "easy mode". Furthermore, every single yellow and green Switch Palace block contains a mushroom and cape feather, respectively.
6. Lastly, it's the first Mario game that allows the player to save their progress, making lives almost meaningless.
Butter Bridge 1 is incredibly hard. It's an Auto-Scrolling Level that starts at the pace of a turtle and gradually accelerates, and you have to jump around a lot more than in other levels because the mushroom platforms, which make up most of the surfaces you can stand on throughout the level, rise and sink like scales. This ratchets the difficulty so far up that it even renders the Blue Yoshi-Cape combo substantially less effective than it usually is.
Soda Lake easily takes the cake for being the most difficult underwater level in the game, being the only level with Torpedo Teds, which spawn endlessly, and can move much faster than Mario, at many times spawning 3 or 4 at a time. Just getting to the level is no small feat either, requiring you to either be very good at cape flight or be willing to sacrifice your Yoshi.
Castle #6, Wendy's Castle. Near its mid-level checkpoint you have to pass through three fast moving crushers, the room for mistakes here is small since mistiming your dodge basically means death as these crushers will ignore your Mercy Invincibility. The worst part is that dying there means you'll have to re-do the level all over again since it's right before the checkpoint.
Sunken Ghost Ship, the final level before the Valley of Bowser. The section with Boos randomly appearing out of nowhere is quite frustrating, even when you realize that if you stay in one place, they can't get you.
Tubular (course 2) is a notorious example. The entire stage is basically making it across a giant pit with the Power Balloon Power-Up, except you need to actually stop and hit certain blocks to find more balloons, or else you're not gonna make it in time. On top of that, thanks to this, you're basically a One-Hit Point Wonder, and you have to make it through fairly difficult attack patterns to hit said blocks. (Unless you can pull off the Power Balloon glitch (holding left and right at the same time, which is easy for ROMs but damn near impossible for an SNES D-Pad), which makes the level easy as cake.)
Way Cool (course 3). The first half has you riding a platform through a maze of rails with plenty of Fuzzies and on/off switch blocks, with a wrong choice potentially sending you plunging to your doom. The second half has you riding on a rope on a rail, while avoiding more Fuzzies. There's an Easy Level Trick to bypass the second half by having Yoshi collect the wings midway through the level, but good luck making it that far.
Awesome (course 4) is no slouch, either. A run across a slippery ice world with kicker Koopas sending shells at you every step of the way, followed by a platforming sequence over equally slippy narrow platforms with Banzai Bills, infinite flying fish, and finally a jump boost off a flying Koopa to another slippery platform to jump a decent distance to the exit pipe.
Outrageous (course 7) is a course that definitely lives up to its name, as Mario must run a relentless gauntlet of Wigglers, Amazing Flyin' Hammer Brothers, Jumping Piranha Plants, Bill Blasters, pipes that require springboards to jump over (said springboards needing to be carried across several screens), and various other hazards.
Valley Ghost House contains a shortcut to Larry's Castle that you can access by using a Key. The problem is that you're expected to hit a question block that generates a trail of coins you control with the directional pad, form a "staircase", use a P-Switch to turn the coins into blocks, and then slide through a gap in a wall and onto the ledge where the Key is. The trail of coins is nigh-impossible to use correctly, especially since you might need to dodge ghosts while also generating the coin trail, so your "staircase" might not even line up with the ledge. Since the coin trail only appears once, you only have one chance at making the stairway per attempt at the level. Fortunately, you can also fly while ducking to squeeze through the gap and take the exit.
Valley Fortress is all about skewers, and can even put Wendy's Fortress to shame with the strict timings and lack of a checkpoint. The final section, where you need to hop over lava at the right moment to be able to avoid them is really hard to time, even with a cape. Jump too early, and Mario will run into one, fall and die; jump too late, and Mario will get crushed. And if that's not bad enough, it's the only Fortress in the game that doesn't have a mercy power-up outside Reznor's door. Again, there are no checkpoints, so you do it all in one go. The difficulty can easily rival the hardest of the Special Stages.
Some of the Special World levels have unique mechanics that don't show up anywhere else in the game, such as the rising and falling tide in Mondo, or the berries that add to the time limit in Funky.
The Switch Palaces tend to be used to simply make the game easier which can be counter-intuitive considering the difficulty of find three of them and also make some secret paths more accessible. However, the idea of using Switch Palaces to open up access to new paths (or even open up more challenging alternate routes within levels) wasn't used as much it could have been, while skillful use of the Cape can even bypass the need to find a Switch Palace in some cases. Fortunately, rom hacks are one means of playing with features like this.
Vindicated by History: While Super Mario World was always a big seller and well-loved, it was largely overshadowed by Sonic the Hedgehog around their release dates since the latter had a much larger marketing push by Sega of America that lobbed endless insults at the game, and many people saw it as just another Mario game. Partly because of this, initial critical reaction to the game was still positive, but the game was criticized for not being as innovative as its predecessors. Nowadays, it's a contender for best game in the series and one of the best games of all time. One of the reasons why is that Super Mario World was the first Mario platformer to heavily incorporate alternate paths that lead to secret levels, creating a great sense of nonlinearity and choice. It also features the debut of beloved Mario series mainstay Yoshi, who ended up getting his own game series.
Woolseyism: The flavor text that appears after Mario defeats a Koopaling was originally uniform and didn't even list the specific Koopaling by name. Their names being mentioned as well as implied character traits (Wendy apparently liking to sing, Ludwig doing symphonies, and Iggy being demented) were added in by the NOA localizers.
From "Gopher Bash", vegetables are good for you in moderation.
In "King Scoopa Koopa," Koopa starts selling a product that causes those who consume it to start behaving irrationally, causes their appearance to change into something hideous, and proves to be so addictive that they happily throw all their money away "for a few brief moments of mouth-watering bliss." The episode ends up coming across as more about the dangers of drug addiction than anything else.
At the end of the "King Scoopa Koopa" episode, Mario passes some veggies over to Luigi, but drops them, and then says "I just invented the tossed salad!", before the episode ends.
Anvilicious: Most of the show's aesops are delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. The absolute nadir is the nutrition lesson in "King Scoopa Koopa", which ends with Mario spelling out the aesop directly when he orders the cave people to eat their vegetables.
Idiot Plot: Put bluntly, most of the show's plots could have been avoided with a little common sense. Many of the show's entries on the show's What An Idiot page are what trigger their respective episodes.
Memetic Mutation: The entirety of the "Mama Luigi" episode, particularly "That's Mama Luigi to you, Mario! *wheeze*" Other notable quotes include: "Well, it's like they say in Brooklyn: Early to bed, early to catch the worm. Or, is it the bagel?", "Mario, wherever you are, HHYYYYYEEEEEEELLLLLLPPPPPP!!!", "Good thing I found a magic balloon!", "I found myself face to face with a Fiiiiire Sumo!", "Mama? MAMA LUIGI! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" and "Luigi, King Koopa has the princess locked up in his Coney Island Disco Palace!"
From "The Yoshi Shuffle": "It's a stone, Luigi; you didn't make it!"
Moral Event Horizon: A lot of King Koopa's plans are much darker than previous Mario cartoons, but his plan in "Send in the Clown" is straightforward attempted mass murder, luring the cave people into a circus with the intention of feeding everyone gullible enough to visit it (which ends up being the entirety of Dome City) to his dinosaurs. He even fishes Mario out of his trap to turn his death into a spectacle by turning it into the dinosaur equivalent of a lion-tamer act.
Retroactive Recognition: Across the international versions, Princess Toadstool shares no less than three of her voice actresses (Tracey Moore in English, Isabelle Volpe in French, and Sabine Bohlmann in German) with Princess Serenity.
Rooting for the Empire: While fans are supposed to see the Koopas trying to kill Oogtar in episodes like "Cave Christmas" and "A Little Learning" as evil, most people will cheer for the reptiles to get the brat out of their hairs, even if they know it won't happen.
Suspiciously Similar Song: Once again, each episode contains a musical montage. Except this time they used this from the start rather than using a cover song. For example, "Ghosts R' Us" uses a knockoff of Thriller, "Born to Ride" uses one of Born to be Wild, etc.
Viewer Name Confusion: Fans are somewhat split on whether the Koopa Wizard from the episode "Ghosts R Us" is called Wizenheimer or Wizardheimer, a debate that dates back to the early 2000s when the only copies of the cartoon available online were blurry rips (with low-quality audio) from the fansite YoshiArt. Listening carefully, the name is most likely "Wizenheimer", but "Wizardheimer" remains in use in some circles due to longstanding fan convention, such as the Super Mario Wiki article for this character being under the name "Wizardheimer" for over four years. Strangely appropriate, as no one in the episode can get his name right either.