It was hailed as the greatest videogame of all time when it was released, and even after all these years it still has a pretty solid claim to that title. Super Mario World is without a shadow of a doubt one of our favourite Mario games, and when SNES was released some members of our staff played very little else until they'd discovered the lion's share of 96 exits. It's pretty amazing to consider that this was the first game ever released for the SNES.
In terms of gameplay, Super Mario World doesn't actually deviate that greatly from the successful blueprint laid down by its predecessors. The ability to move around the massive map screen at will and revisit already conquered levels to find additional secrets is an upgraded feature from Super Mario Bros. 3, and this really adds to the replay value. Being able to save your progress helps as well — the game is so epic that it would be difficult to see everything it has to offer in one sitting.
The additional special abilities that Mario is granted add an extra layer of playability, although it's a shame that the costume power-ups from Mario 3 fail to appear. However, Yoshi's introduction is probably the most well remembered innovation. The green-skinned dinosaur radically altered the way the game was played and several secret exits were only accessible when Mario was riding Yoshi.
Nintendo fans often argue over which is the best game — this or Super Mario Bros. 3 — and it's likely that in 50 years time they'll still be debating the considerable merits of both games. In our opinion, however, Super Mario World comes out on top; the sheer scale of the challenge coupled with some beautiful visuals and classic music help to make this one of the greatest video games ever created. It goes without saying that this should be right at the top of your Virtual Console download list.