Super Mario Bros. 3 vs. Super Mario World

Super Mario Bros. 3 vs. Super Mario World

Tanooki Suits and Cape Feathers

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Versus on

Nintendo's platforming plumber has been on dozens of incredible adventures yet these classics remain 2 of his best. The question is; which one of these timeless 2D platformers will win this Versus showdown?

Photo of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World for various consoles
There's definitely more than one way to play these Nintendo gems!

Stages

To start, let's examine the stages in each game. Super Mario Bros. 3 stands out as it features a massive variety of levels within its 8 unique worlds. Whether you're facing off against enormous enemies in Giant Land, slipping and sliding within Ice Land, or getting lost in the complex Pipe Land; there's certainly a lot to see and do. Plus, the fortress and airship stages make for some enjoyable challenges that act as milestones for your journey and who can forget the Tower stage in Sky Land? There's so much fun to be had and the amount of variety is awesome, especially with quirky enemies like Big Bertha, Goombas hopping around in big shoes, Buster Beetles, and the introduction of Chain Chomps and Thwomps. To top it all off, there's a ton of very cool secrets to discover as well.

Super Mario World has its fair share of incredible stages, too; the coolest of which are the Ghost Houses that usually feature secret exits and satisfying puzzles. Other stages will have you dodging giant Banzai Bills, trying not to annoy Wigglers in the Forest of Illusion, and taking part in some fun boss fights against the Koopalings only to end with a memorable face-off against Bowser. Also, Mario fans looking for a challenge will have a blast within the hidden Special Zone stages that conclude with the rewarding message "You Are A Super Player!!" spelled out in glittering gold coins. Anyway, even though they both offer a solid selection of stages, I can safely say that Super Mario Bros. 3's variety of enemies, unique situations, and fun-filled themes make it stand out as the winner here.

Worlds

Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World have very different overworld layouts. Super Mario Bros. 3 is broken up into 8 lands that contain stages within node-based structures while Super Mario World boasts an impressive overworld map that allows you to revisit stages at any time so you can discover secrets and acquire specific power-ups. The ability to play stages again in order to unlock hidden exits and visit Switch Palaces to activate blocks that will then appear in the stages is absolutely phenomenal and makes Super Mario World's campaign extremely rewarding, especially for perfectionists. Although working your way through the remarkably distinct lands of Super Mario Bros. 3 is incredibly fun, Super Mario World definitely has the more satisfying game world.

Super Mario Bros. 3 screenshot
Most of the levels in Super Mario Bros. 3 are simply unforgettable

Power-ups

Even though both of these classic platformers play somewhat similarly, the primary difference is their selection of power-ups. Aside from the common power-ups, Super Mario Bros. 3 allows Mario to transform into a flying raccoon or better yet; a Tanooki which allows him to turn into an invincible statue. How cool is that? Additionally, the goofy Frog Suit and awesome Hammer Suit offer a ton of variety to the gameplay. Meanwhile, Super Mario World has the best power-up of all: Yoshi! Riding him around while gobbling up enemies is so much fun. Besides that, the Cape Feather is very similar to Raccoon Mario although you can tent your cape up to effortlessly glide through stages. There are also a few gimmicky power-ups like the Power Balloon that makes Mario fill with air and float, Yoshi's Wings which allow him to fly, and Baby Yoshis that can transform into normal sized ones after eating enough enemies and such.

This is certainly a close call but I've had a bit more fun with Super Mario Bros. 3's assortment of clever power-ups over the years so I have to give it the win in this category. That being said, if it weren't for Super Mario World, we wouldn't have the delightful Yoshi.

Music

Although I can discuss these games for hours, I'll keep this brief and end by exploring each game's soundtrack. Super Mario Bros. 3's super-catchy overworld music and fantastic stage tunes are immediately recognizable to even the most casual of gamer. That being said, the tunes of Super Mario World pop into my head almost every day. It's likely because the audio capabilities of the SNES are far superior to the NES that Koji Kondo managed to create such an amazing score for Super Mario World. Whenever I play it, I'm always in awe every time the music changes as soon as I hop onto Yoshi and percussion gets added into the mix. Needless to say, Super Mario World clearly wins the music category for me. In fact, I think I'll go crazy one of these days with its music constantly looping in my head.

Super Mario World screenshot
I never understood why Super Mario World's football-themed Chargin' Chuck throws baseballs...

Well, this is an especially tight match and both of these games mean a lot to me. In fact, Super Mario Bros. 3 was my very first NES game way back in 1990 and I became obsessed with Super Mario World shortly after even though I didn't actually own a Super NES until a few years later. Instead of delaying this any further, I should pick an overall winner and that is...

Winner Super Mario World

Super Mario Bros. 3 elevated the classic 2D platforming formula that Nintendo established a few years prior by building upon it in very clever and imaginative ways and it remains a must-play for anyone who considers themselves a gamer. However, Super Mario World took the franchise even further by boasting a massive and rewarding overworld map, introducing Yoshi, and featuring one of the greatest video game soundtracks ever composed. If Nintendo decides to create a retro throwback Mario platformer, I hope it will have the variety of Super Mario Bros. 3 and the structure of Super Mario World. That would be awesome!

That's just my opinion. Agree? Disagree? Vote now!

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Super Mario Bros. 3 Trivia

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