When it comes to the 2D Mario games, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World are the pinnacles for their respective consoles. We have enjoyed the 2D platformers that came after, but none of them reached the same heights as these two. They changed the game in major ways and back-to-back no less. That is why there has been a seemingly never-ending battle on which one is the best. Well, let’s finally put these two to the test to see how things shape out. In the words of Mario, "Let’s a go!"
10 Gameplay: Super Mario Bros. 3
When it comes to gameplay these two are at a tie. Both still feel incredibly precise. If there is one thing Nintendo excels at, it is platforming and there isn’t a platformer better than a Mario title. That may not be true for the first couple iterations, but with Super Mario Bros. 3 and on, they have all felt solid. In that case, the win should go to 3, just because it set a standard for butter-smooth gameplay. That is the only reason it beats out Super Mario World.
9 Levels: Super Mario World
Both games have incredible levels, but there is one thing Super Mario World does better. It is the simple fact that these levels can be replayed infinitely without having to restart a new game. There are some exceptions like the castles, but overall everything can be played on repeat. We wish it was the same for Super Mario Bros. 3, but it simply isn’t the case. Maybe a port or remake can fix that someday.
8 Legacy: Super Mario Bros. 3
Legacy includes the presence of these two juggernauts in the gaming society. That is to say we are talking about ports. Both of which are basically tied in that department. However, two things helped Super Mario Bros. 3 turn the tides. First of all, it was remade for the SNES. Super Mario World was never really remade. On top of that, this SNES version was the basis for Super Mario Advance 4 on the Game Boy Advance, which also added e-reader card support. That is to say, it included new items and levels.
7 Graphics: Super Mario World
Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the best-looking games on the NES. This is thanks in part to it releasing toward the end of the console’s life cycle. Super Mario World, on the other hand, was a launch title and came out of the gate like a boss.
It is pixel perfection on the SNES and a prime example of why the 16-Bit generation holds up the best graphically among its retro console peers.
6 Music: Super Mario Bros. 3
Getting rid of duplicate tracks, variations, and sound effects, both soundtracks are approximately working with around thirty original themes. Now the "Overworld" music rules in Super Mario Bros. 3, as each place has a theme compared to areas not changing their music as much in Super Mario World. However, the individual tracks for levels are much better in Super Mario World. There is a lot to like for booth, but what really sold us was the sweet midi bass present in the Super Mario Bros. 3 tracks. Nintendo knows how to slappa da bass.
5 Multiplayer: Tie
Multiplayer in a Mario game was never truly implemented until New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Prior to that, all it meant in these games was that players could alternate between Mario and Luigi upon death. It was lame back then and remains lame now. For that reason we cannot elevate either one of these above the other. A future port of either of these two with true co-op multiplayers would be rad though. Nintendo, take note.
4 Secrets: Super Mario World
What makes a Mario game truly special are their secrets. The best part about playing these games back then was trading information with fellow kids on the playground. This was before the internet, when discovering hidden stuff was a lot more, well, secretive. We have to give a shout-out to Super Mario Bros. 3 for stuff like the invisible block that led players to the flute. However, the intricate pathways that led to secret areas in Super Mario World are way better examples.
3 Powers: Super Mario Bros. 3
The cape is the best flying power-up in any Mario game, as it could lead one to infinitely fly across stages. That is if the player was good enough. However, the P-Wing negates all skill in Super Mario Bros. 3. so technically it could be considered better. It is definitely overpowered, which is both good and bad.
Yoshi is a better rideable character than the Kuribo Shoe. So it looks like Super Mario World wins, right? Nope. The two things that really make Super Mario Bros. 3 standout are the Frog Suit and the Hammer Bros. Suit. Enough said.
2 The World: Super Mario World
One of the biggest things that really sets Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3 apart is in its name. Super Mario World is a literal world. Characters start on one part of the map and continue to explore it in order to find secrets and to make their way to Bowser in order to save Princess Peach. Because of those secrets, the map also evolves. It may be in pixel form, but this game is still one immersive experience.
1 The Winner: Tie
Both of these games are still the two best 2D Mario games out there. In actuality, they may even be the two best overall, but that is not what this list is about. Even though they are still amazing games to play decades later, Super Mario World feels just a bit fresher in some ways, but there is also no denying how good Super Mario Bros. 3 is as well. At the end of the day it might be lame to end it on a tie, but the results speak for themselves. Picking either will result in a good time.