Super Mario World Rankings


A day where I blog about something other than The Amazing Race? This is incredible. Are you stunned? I have other interests that is something other than TAR or Street Fighter?

Well, I guess so.

I had a failed stint on YouTube where I talked about my most memorable video games, but that was short-lived because I suck at video editing, and had a tough time engaging the audience.

Much like my TAR Canada season 1 vlogs as you may recall would fall under this same boat.

But guess what? I do heckuva lot better with screencaps.

There is no better way to do my own little spin-off than by discussing perhaps the most influential game of my childhood–Super Mario World.

super mario world intro

It is the only video game cartridge I have which has my name on it. This does not make sense I was born in 1991, and because we bought the SNES at launch, I highly doubt the console was bought for me while I was a fetus.

I never have thought about it until now, but I would not be entirely surprised if it was because I brought the game over to a friend’s house back when I lived in Abbotsford, and just to make sure we knew which cartridges were mine, my mother would have written my name on it at the time.
super mario world first level

This game is the one I have beaten the highest number of times compared to any other video game I have ever owned. I am sure a lot of people can identify with this considering it is one of the most popular video games of all time, and the Internet has done its job to keep the game alive for the past fifteen years.


Heck, log on to Twitch right now and I bet there will be at least one channel going on where somebody is playing the Super Famicom version of it to achieve the all-time Speed Run record.

Tragically my record of hitting every exit is somewhere around four hours. I am sure I could shave off a minute or so off of each level, but hey, what’s the fun in that?

super mario world donut ghost house

I remember staying home sick from elementary school a couple times, and if I was too physically weak to put in the effort of playing the game, I would be stuck listening to the Donut Plains overworld theme. The remote control could not have been further away.

It was either that or re-watch a season of Survivor on VHS while I was sick during elementary school.

bob barker

Oh, and of course I would go out of my way to watch The Price is Right. Whoever failed to do that and miss out on their only opportunity to see Bob Barker once every few months was a complete fool.

Can you imagine the household where the parents tell their kids “you can stay home today, but you CANNOT watch The Price is Right.”

“F–k you mom and dad, I’ll just go to school and suffer. These conditions are inhumane! You didn’t even buy 7Up! You bought Spritz Up for my throat!”

seychelles 7 up 2

Yeah. Don’t you remember those days? You would receive 7Up if you had a sore throat or an unsettled stomach. In recent years my father would say “Logan, the whole ‘7Up when you are sick helps’ is complete BS. I think it is just a way to make the kids feel special when they are ill.”

And you know what? My dad is probably completely right (but do not tell him that).

super mario world valley of bowser 2

This is the one exit I can never remember. I have no problem finding and/or remembering where the other ninety-five are located, but this -always- gives me problems. Nothing ever made sense to me. Flying out of frame without any hint to do so?

– But back to the overworld. I could never figure out why they designed Mario the way they did. Ten years later I realized I had been looking at him the wrong way, and suddenly his appearance made much more sense. I swapped the moustache with his eyes for my entire childhood.

super mario world mario

And if you thought this swap made him look like some demented figure wearing a veil rather than appearing as if he is an Italian plumber. . .then you would be correct.

What is even funnier is that this is not the only occasion where I would mistakenly point out the eyes on a video game character.

earthbound ghost

The ghost from EarthBound is the other prime example when I was younger. Don’t worry, I’ll get around to discussing that game soon. The nose makes much more sense when he is facing the left.

The best part about my visual mix-ups is that no one in my family knew of this until we moved to a new house a few months ago. We were talking about an owl poster, and how my sister and I both thought it was a strange tree monster for several years. One day we both figured out that it was an owl winking.
tree monster

Yes, somebody could pull out the latest DSM and diagnose me with a variance of aphasia. Those bastards could probably diagnose me with anything, I would assume.

You know what I love about Super Mario World? Every world you go to has its own theme. Super Mario Bros 3. accomplished the same thing. Yet very few other games with an overworld on the Super Nintendo could do this.

For instance, Donkey Kong Country.
donkey kong country overworld

It is the same damn theme no matter where you go. This is the only complaint I have about Donkey Kong Country other than being too easy. Needless to say this complaint will not be made for the subsequent entries into the series.

Fun fact: Donkey Kong Country is the only game that I can beat my brother at. We would have competitions to see who could beat all of the levels in Super Mario World and other games in the shortest amount of time. Donkey Kong Country was the only time I would defeat him in such a competition.

And no, he did not “cheat” by using the cape every level.

Wasn’t that the solution to everything in Super Mario World when it came to tough levels?

“Oh yeah, go to Top Secret Area, pick up two capes and a Yoshi and your life will be made much easier.”

But guess what? There is one level that comes to mind where this would not be possible. It also happens to be my fifth favourite level in Super Mario World.

super mario world tubular

#5: TUBULAR (Special World)

Yes, Tubular. I remember dying repeatedly on this level thinking it was impossible. In my last playthrough I only needed two attempts to beat it.

What was great about this one in the not-so-hidden Special world is how there was no real way to prepare for this. Sure, there were other balloon-like power-ups earlier in the game, but nothing that had the stakes of “one hit and you are dead” being on the line.

You screw up just once and you lose a life just like that. What I loved about it is that they made it the second level in the Special world. It gave you the impression that if you are struggling with Tubular, then how the hell are you going to get through the next six levels?

super mario world balloon

I for one think Mario was trying too hard to be like Lanky Kong. Also, how uncomfortable would it be to swallow an item that turns you into a balloon? I have heard of being gassy, but this is ridiculous.

There is only one problem though after you beat this level once: You are aware that this is really short. Each subsequent playthrough you kick yourself for being stumped by perhaps the shortest level in the whole game.

But is this just going to be a countdown of the top five toughest levels in Super Mario World?

No, this countdown is called the top five levels of Super Mario World, and this is going to be established by my own arbitrary non-sensical criteria. In fact, #4 on our list is a rather easy one to beat.

super mario world iggys castle

#4: IGGY’S CASTLE (Yoshi’s Island)

david bowie ziggy stardust

In the 80s, he would only have stardust rather than a castle. Never understood why some of the vocals sounds identical to the character of Professor Farnsworth in Futurama, though.

If you started playing video games in the same era as me, this is definitely an iconic level. This is the first boss battle that you ever get to experience. Your first castle. You know you are in for some serious crap.
super mario world yoshi

Why, you cannot even take Yoshi into the castle. Even friendly dinosaurs get major goosebumps.
super mario world iggys castle 2

“Lava and orange spiky balls being puked on me? No thank you,” says Yoshi.

This castle overall is balanced with certain gameplay material that gamers had not really experienced before. Utilizing more than two buttons to get through a level was new for Nintendo players.

super mario world iggys castle 3
Plus you get to hit the switch and now Mario is facing you! Very fun.

Get through the slow sidescroller as big pillars come down (and hopefully you went to the Switch Palace earlier), and boom, you are at the Puke Ball Monster.

Perhaps the most memorable part of this castle is the music. It will be remixed a countless number of times in future games, and you would have a tough time finding someone who does not recognize it. Whoever composed it was setting the perfect atmosphere. Especially later in the game when we experience several close calls with near certain death.

Nobody would really care about Iggy nor these musically inclined Koopas until twenty freakin’ years later when they would be playable characters in Mario Kart 8.

funky kong donkey kong country

Yes, we get eight Koopalings in favour of discarding Funky Kong. Damn you, Nintendo.

super mario world bomb

Nintendo Headquarters after failing to meet demands of putting Funky Kong back into the Mario Kart series.

Once you beat this castle, you get access to Donut Plains 1 (in the region known as Donut Land which is named because there is a lake in the middle which makes it look like a poorly shaped donut) and will see the overworld map for the first time. That is when you realize that you have a very long game ahead of you. Screw yellow dots. Now all you will see are red dots for the next several levels.

What the heck are these red dots, anyway? Does that mean the level is harder than those yellow dotted ones we saw below in the playground known as Yoshi’s Island? Unless somebody explicitly told you, it would take a while to figure out what the difference was supposed to be.

I have wondered how many people get hungry for snacks once they enter Donut Land. You must be hungry after all of that hard work to beat the first world. Donut Plains, Donut Lake, Donut Ghost House, Donut Cave. . .Homer Simpson and Canadian police officers would have to put the controller down immediately and go for a Tim Horton’s Run ASAP.

Yes, I am indeed from Canada. By the way, I think Tim Horton’s in general is overrated. The last time I went there was because the Kelowna airport had only Tim Horton’s and White Spot.

It is like choosing between getting punched in the arm or getting kicked in the shin. I would personally prefer avoid both experiences, but if forced with the choice, a punch in the arm would be better.

Sorry White Spot, but the only time I would choose you over another restaurant or fast food place is if East Side Mario’s or Ricky’s were the only alternatives.

I should probably explain why East Side Mario’s and Ricky’s are the worst.


When I lived in Abbotsford (I moved to the Okanagan when I was seven), we used to go to Ricky’s because my aunt loved it there, and my parents said it was a cheap place to eat if you had a large family. Bacon, pancakes smothered in syrup, and you have the two staples of Ricky’s.

Well, about two or three years ago a Ricky’s opened up here. My aunt had not been to Ricky’s in over ten years, and she would still talk about the place. On Mother’s Day we took her there and. . .it was awful.

I ordered French Fries and it tasted like they were McCain Superfries simply thrown into the oven. My lunchtime diet during high school recognized the taste as soon as the first fry entered my mouth.

My Portobello burger did not taste entirely fresh either. Whatever you do, AVOID Ricky’s.

But if there is an apocalypse, and in your dying days only a Ricky’s and East Side Mario’s remains, GO TO RICKY’S.


East Side Mario’s is probably my worst experience in terms of a big Italian restaurant chain.

My brother and I ordered a pizza each. They screwed up BOTH toppings on each of our pizzas, and both put it on the wrong sauce.

I saw meat on mine (I am vegetarian), and I swapped pizzas with my brother because he was the meat eater, and he happened to not have meat on his.

Only problem? They accidentally put chicken on his, and neither topping he wanted was on there.

We had to send back the pizzas, and they brought out new ones. We ordered something else, but they screwed that up too. I noticed one server specifically was checking in with us repeatedly to make sure we were receiving the correct meals. She was not even assigned to our table, but I think she did not trust the other server nor the chefs working there.

The server took off about 60% from our bill, and gave me a free milkshake on the house. Two weeks later the restaurant was shut down, and employees were locked out. I hear other East Side Mario’s elsewhere are equally terrible.

Let’s move on. What is number three on my list?

super mario world donut ghost house

That ghost is so big that it is stuck to float outside! According to this image, it would take up fifty percent of the building’s space.

#3: DONUT GHOST HOUSE (Donut World)

super mario world ghost house

Again, dinosaurs have their own separate entrance. Such inequality in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Or maybe they have very strong Christian beliefs and interpret the Bible in a somewhat literal context, and disregard the possibility of ghosts.

Which in turn makes them question their own existence. I wonder what missionaries were sent to Yoshi’s Island?
super mario world magikoopa

Magikoopa and his persuasive ways?

Sorry, I am too amused by the idea of classifying the religious beliefs of fictitious video game characters in a 30-year franchise. I am sure somebody has already done that for me.

But in all seriousness, isn’t it fascinating to see how much people change in terms of their religious beliefs once high school is over?

I know someone in particular who was a former colleague, and went from being rather secular to attending one of the most notorious religious schools in North America. Also, there were other colleagues who changed drastically but in the exact opposite direction. I won’t delve into the personal trends I found with my peers as they entered adulthood when it comes to this subject, but in a more private venue, I may be more open to discussing the matter.

Or if I was somebody who was really really really invested in the beliefs of the cast of Little People, Big World, but I heard a middle-aged woman beat me to the punch on that.

For now, you are stuck having religious discussions in the comments section of YouTube or messaging Benjamin Watson. Poor you.

Whoa, I got way off track. My bad. Why are we discussing a dinosaur’s religion, again?

Yes. The Donut Ghost House. If you were playing through this game for the first time, chances are you are familiar with the Ghost House at the north end of town rather than the one on the south side.

In other words, it is like positioning the success of the White Sox and Cubs but in reverse. The White Sox Ghost House has the Top Secret Area which is as valuable as seventy World Series rings, and all that the Cubs’ Ghost House offers is a tube and a Star Road that leads you into a dead end.


So what makes the Donut Ghost House so amazing? It is the first level where you are not told if it has one or two exits. You could finish the whole game and realize “wow, back in my amateur days, I did not recognize the possibility of there being the secret exit into Top Secret Area”.

I love how mean Top Secret Area is later on in the game. Want all of the power-ups and enough lives? Well too bad, you have to move through all of the dots and warps just to get there. You could be wasting ten minutes if you do not have the proper Star Road spots unlocked yet.

But seriously, the ‘easy’ exit is a tricky mess the first time you play it. Remember, this is an introduction for most gamers. It is freakin’ Mario. How tough can it be?
super mario world arrow

Well, first off you need to figure out you need to hit that switch before you jump back into the main area, and you have to move in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF THE FREAKIN’ ARROW! And what happens when you go through to the door on the right, anyway?

super mario world arrow 2

You are in the same freakin’ room. Now you feel like a moron because the only reasonable conclusion is that you did something wrong.

And that sets the tone for the rest of the game. You re-think every level you have played so far. How many secrets did I miss? Are illusions not merely restricted to the Forest of Illusion?

super mario world forest of illusion

This place. None of its levels are in the top five. I briefly considered the super duper ultra 1-up-o-rama level and Lakitu’s cameo, but I decided against it. Let the hate mail commence.

There is something about the design of the ghosts that is just perfect in the ghost houses, and the whole atmosphere combined with the music is tremendous.

What levels have bad music, anyway?

Should we move on to what my second favourite level is? Yes, it is a  Donut Plains level. This list is the anti-recency bias. Also known as the anti-Survivor Oz.

#2: DONUT PLAINS 1 (Donut World)
super mario world chocolate island

If I submitted this ranking at an even-numbered second during the day, it may have been different.

This is the most memorable level for me. It is the first level to require a few playthroughs as you try to snag the key just above the finish line. If you suck, you have to wait for the switch palace and make your situation easier.

There is so much to this level.

super mario world 1 up tunnel

For instance, a 1-Up Tunnel. I always laughed whenever I would see somebody hit the first two switches in the correct order, thus inevitably securing the 1-Up, but would screw up by jumping onto the next ledge and miss out on it.


Also, we get introduced to those lava guys (we learn Yoshi can eat hot fire), our first secret key (sounds something Big Brotheresque), and the first level where you are more than encouraged to explore it with the cape.

It’s the type of stuff that makes you fall in love with Miyamoto’s work. The stuff can make you a diehard fan of him.
eminem miyamoto

Imagine if there was a group of people out there who are as intense fans of Miyamoto as we associate with Eminem’s Stans? How many people get pissed Shigeru does not return their letters, get Miyamoto’s name tattoed on their chest, dye their hair grey, and drive off a bridge with their pregnant girlfriend in the trunk?

If it was the president of SNK, however, they could just hit A-B-B-A and everyone is revived.
abba dancing queen

Yes, a code undoubtedly inspired by the creator’s favourite Swedish group.

super mario world coins

Only thing that is 4.75 times better than Abba is flying through this open field collecting as many coins as possible. Can you hang onto Mario long enough to hit the other end of the screen?

super mario world coins 2

And even if you fall it is all fine because you still get free coins, and free snowcone.

sugar ray fly

I think Sugar Ray wrote a song about this fun part of the game.


Yes, I am convinced of it. Nothing is more fun in Super Mario World than playing around with the parachute-like cape.

I love how cruel the end of the level is too. So many things flying at you, lava spewing enemies, and the dang American football player. Many people experience their first embarrassing video game choke because of this level.

Now it is time for my favourite level in all of Super Mario World. This is a personally memorable one because I was two seconds away from the finish goal, but time expired. Once you beat this level you feel like the flippin’ man.

Nothing can stop you, and the design of the level itself reminds you how incredible you really are. A self-esteem booster for people like myself who needed somebody to tell me I was amazing when I was growing up.

#1: FUNKY (Special World)

notorious big juicy

super mario world super
This is dedicated to all my teachers who told me I would amount to nothing.

It was all a dream
Used to read Nintendo Power magazine
Playing through to the end of Super Mario World
Helping piss on consumers away from the Sega Genesis?
Man, if it weren’t for Sonic I couldn’t picture this
Yeah, too soon for another one of my rap parodies. I already have a second one planned for Allan Wu.

notorious big street fighter

Fun fact: They are playing Street Fighter II: World Warrior in the Juicy music video when B.I.G. references the SNES and Sega Genesis. It could be the SNES port. Part of me doubts that producers of the video would have brought the Champion’s Edition or Super Street Fighter 2 for the Genesis.


Oh, right. This level is number one because you feel like you are freakin’ number one after playing it. It is the designer’s way of saying “congratulations, you have survived everything we could think of to throw at you.”

Yes, it is short, but that is part of the magic of it. It is the first level to tell you to GET TO THE CHOPPER!!!! and move it. All of the instincts you have learned in the game are put to the test as those hammer dudes that drop flames down, Koopatroopas, and a bunch of other enemies placed between wide gaps. Add in a finish line that has an agonizingly long message and you experience the greatest sense of accomplishment.

Yes, even more so than Bowser. Beating Bowser is just part of the “main quest” that normal people defeat. Heck, you can get there in a short number of exits if you wish. But beating through all of Special World? It takes a special type of person to pull off that s–t.

That is why it fits at number one.


This was one of my toughest rankings to date. I had twenty solid nominations, and cut it down to five.
super mario world apple

Including the level where you get to play that we see every time the power is turned on. What the heck is this place? How do I get there? The apple on that bush looks like an eye, and Yoshi needs to eat that thing!

Lastly, I leave you with this thought.

“Who designed Mount Rushmore behind that bush in the picture? It is like the artists had the license to re-create Mount Rushmore in Super Mario World, but were not allowed to use the actual faces of U.S. presidents.”

Anyways, thanks for reading. In short, I love Super Mario World and may very well change my top five by the time I wake up tomorrow.

P.S. Thanks for reading through all of the silly little tangents. I make a bad habit of doing this when I do my weekly TAR blogs and podcasts.
super mario world vacation

Now I need a vacation.




P.P.S. Yeah, Funky is my favourite simply due to it being named after the best Kong in the whole Klan. Spoiler.

funky kong donkey kong country

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