Super Mario World: Return To Dinosaur Land is a ROM hack I was aware of, but never got around to trying. That all changed when I found out it was included on the SNES multicart I bought earlier this year. I assume whoever was in charge of putting games on this cartridge mistook it for being the actual Super Mario World. Since I’ve been having a lot of fun playing, or more accurately replaying, through Super Mario World, and now that I can play this ROM hack on my SNES, I figured now was as good a time as any to sit down and give it a proper go.
Much of Super Mario World’s core gameplay elements, enemies and power ups remain intact, but the world map and level designs are where this ROM hack grows into its own. There always seems to be a secret somewhere in these levels. Many levels are straight forward, making this feel more like a sequel to Super Mario World, but some levels will require a little more thought and awareness. One level requires the player to go all the way to the end of the level and return to beginning to find the exit. Another requires the player to traverse the level at the very top of the screen while using what’s on the screen as a map. Some levels can be frustrating, but not much more frustrating than levels from Super Mario World itself.
Remember the secret level in Super Mario World with power ups and a Yoshi? I haven’t found one here, and power ups seems to be a bit more sparse in Return to Dinosaur Land. To circumvent this I use the old start and select trick. Once I’ve finished a level with the power up I need I go back to that level, obtain it and use start and select to leave the level early. Saving the game however seems to be in no short supply. In Super Mario World saves are reserved for after you beat a boss or mini boss, but in Return to Dinosaur Land saves seem to pop up at random and often, which is a nice addition.
I still have a ways to go with Return to Dinosaur Land, but I’m finding it to be incredibly fun. Admittedly I’m not familiar with many Super Mario World ROM hacks, but if most of them are anything like Return to Dinosaur Land I would gladly give them a try. I feel this ROM hack is a perfect example of creativity within the community, taking a well loved classic and giving it extended life by rearranging levels and adding new challenges. I truly think Super Mario World itself is a classic and has tremendous replayability already, but with the ROM hacking community continuously adding and updating the game it helps breath new life into a game so many cherished from over 30 years ago.