The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #65: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

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I’m just guessing here, but I’d imagine that many Mario fans have no idea a sequel to Super Mario World even exists. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was released for the Super NES in 1995 and starred the titular dinosaur in his first solo adventure. Most fans refer to the game as just “Yoshi’s Island,” because it’s such a departure from the rest of the franchise to that point, and because the “Super Mario World 2” print on the game’s box is almost invisible.

Serving as a prequel to the entire Super Mario franchise, Yoshi’s Island introduced Baby Mario to the world and tasked Yoshi with protecting the infant from Baby Bowser. While it’s Fall 1995 release was overshadowed by the launch of the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation, a dedicated cult following has built up around the game over the years.

Though they might not have known exactly which game it was promoting, I guarantee that everyone remembers the commercial Nintendo used to sell Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island in America.

The advertisement is 30 seconds in length, however only six seconds of the spot are devoted to images from Super Mario World 2. The remaining 24 seconds show a slovenly, obese man sitting down for a multi-course meal at a restaurant. The man is glistening with flop sweat and his clothes are covered in grease stains. He gorges on fried chicken, spaghetti, pastries, Jello, and other indescribable “delicacies.” His waistband expands. Buttons on his shirt pop right off. And then, with spittle dripping down his chin, he groans out, “No more!”

Up until this point, this real-life Homer Simpson was a disgusting reminder that video game commercials had reached a low point in the mid 90s. But there was room for a little more as the man reached for a fingerful of whipped cream. Taking the phrase, “So full, I could burst” literally, the camera pulled back and focused on the man’s engorged stomach as he exploded in a spray of undigested food, internal viscera, and what can only be described as slop. The final shot of the commercial showed the words “Play It Loud” (Nintendo’s marketing slogan at the time) splattered on a wall in bile.

Even though most games were still targeted at children, game advertising in the mid-to-late 90s was rife with this kind of disgusting imagery and low-brow double entendres. Nintendo never did edgy particularly well and this response to Sega’s “Blast Processing” campaign was particularly disastrous. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island ended up selling four million copies, which is very impressive, but that total also makes it the least successful “main series” Mario game ever. The Yoshi’s Island commercial was the beginning of the end for the “Play It Loud” campaign, and while Nintendo continued to use the slogan for another year, they began to shy away from edgy commercial content whenever they could, instead adopting a more irreverent tone for their promotional materials.

In an interesting twist of fate, fan reaction to the “Play It Loud” campaign may have helped Yoshi’s Island cast a longer shadow on the future of Nintendo’s first-party games than it might have otherwise. When Donkey Kong Country was released a year earlier, Nintendo attempted to promote the title by focusing on its advanced CGI graphics. The publisher even mailed a video tape highlighting the technological advancements used to create Donkey Kong Country to every Nintendo Power subscriber.

For many, this look behind the scenes at the development process was something they had never seen before. Fans reacted well to the tape and to Donkey Kong Country, but Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to take Yoshi’s Island in a different direction. Miyamoto and his team poured buckets of color into its world, and used a crayon-like graphical style to craft characters and environments that didn’t look like anything else coming out of Nintendo (or anywhere else, for that matter) at the time.

Miyamoto has always followed his own unique muse, but it’s easy to argue that a similar reaction to the 3D worlds and polygonal flash that dominated game design in the mid 2000s helped form the genesis of the “indie” movement. However, Nintendo’s senior executives chose to initially reject the childlike design of Yoshi’s Island. In a desire to chase their how new property with a lookalike, they asked the development team to change the game to more closely resemble Donkey Kong Country. Ignoring their suggestions, Miyamoto released Yoshi’s Island as he originally envisioned.

In the years since the release of Yoshi’s Island, Nintendo’s designers have pivoted towards even more whimsical art styles for many of their games. And like Yoshi’s Island, not all of these titles were received warmly by executives or the general public. But whatever controversy that was caused by the “pop-up storybook” visuals used in 1998’s Yoshi’s Story, both groups came around. Just like they did for the cel-shaded look of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, the the toy-like appearance of Miis, and the yarn bombing of beloved characters in Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Woolly World.

As usual, Miyamoto had the last laugh.

While Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was never as popular as its predecessor, it’s still fairly easy to find a used copy of the game at retail shops or online.

And like all of Mario’s other side-scrolling adventures for the NES and Super NES, Yoshi’s Island was also re-released for the Game Boy Advance. Retitled Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, the game made its portable debut in 2002. This version of the game would eventually be made available to download as a “Virtual Console” title through the Nintendo eShop on the 3DS and Wii U.

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: October 4, 1995

Average Ranking: 72.09
Selection Percentage: 39.53% (17/43)
Scientifically Proven Score: 132.56

Publication Rankings For Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
Hyper (1995)

Next Gen (1996)


Next Gen (1999)


Edge (2000)

GI (2001) NR

GameSpy (2001)


Edge (2003)


EW/G4TV (2003)

GameSpot (2003) NR

IGN (2003)


1UP (2004)


The Age (2005)

IGN (2005) 44

Yahoo! Games UK (2005)


Edge (2007)


IGN (2007)

IGN HoF (2007) NR

Stuff UK (2008)


Edge (2009)


Empire (2009)

GI (2009) 185

FHM (2010)


GamesTM (2010)


The Phoenix (2010)

Gamereactor (2011) NR

GamesRadar (2011)


Stuff UK (2011)


1UP (2012)

G4TV (2012) NR

GamesRadar (2012)


Time (2012)


EPN (2013)

GamesRadar (2013) 45

Gaming Bolt (2013)


PC & Tech Authority (2013)


GamesRadar (2014)

Popular Mechanics (2014) NR

Slant Magazine (2014)


Stuff UK (2014)


Edge (2015)

GamesRadar (2015) 41

IGN (2015)


GamesMaster (2016)


Time (2016)


Edge – The Nintendo Years – 2007

Games Radar – Why does Yoshi’s Island remain a classic, 20 years on? – 2007

Kent, Steven – The Ultimate History of Video Games: The Story Behind the Craze that Touched our Lives and Changed the World – Three Rivers Press – 2001

Ryan, Jeff – Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America – Portfolio – 2011

This entry was posted in 3DS, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii U and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.
John Scalzo is Warp Zoned's Editor-In-Chief and resident retro gaming expert. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at john AT warpzoned DOT com.

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