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Prerelease:Super Mario World (SNES)

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This page details prerelease information and/or media for Super Mario World (SNES).

To do:
More scans (from unknown magazine(s):
  • 1
  • 2
  • Files from the source code leak on July 24th, 2020.

Super Mario World had an interesting development, starting out in 1988 with a very different overworld and closer connections to Super Mario Bros. 3. The game was built off of a port of Super Mario Bros. 3 that was created to test the Super Famicom's hardware capabilities.

(Source: Nintendo Super Mario World Official Guidebook)

Internal Material

On July 24, 2020, a vast amount of source code from Nintendo's early consoles surfaced as well as prototypes and assets from games such as Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and more.

The leak included a portion of Super Mario World's source files with an absurd amount of early assets. While some had previously been found in the SNES Test Program and SNES Burn-In Test Cart or had been glimpsed in grainy magazine screenshots, many had been completely unknown and show how significantly the game changed over its development cycle.

SMW ElderlyYoshi1.gif
Goombas and Koopas and Super Leaves, oh my!
SMW Map-mode7.png
Background Graphics and Tilemaps
The old mushroom overworld is in here, alongside plenty of other early maps and backgrounds.

Development Timeline


  • Oct - Development for Super Mario World begins after the release of Super Mario Bros. 3 in Japan.


  • July 28 - The game is revealed at Shoshinkai 1989 in Japan.


  • Nov 21 - The game is released in Japan.


  • August 13 - The game is released in North America.


  • April 11 - The game is released in Europe.

1989 Builds

Press Conference Reveal

At least 2 early builds of Super Mario World were shown at the first Shoshinkai on July 28th, 1989. These are photos taken of the projector screen, and they were published in 1989 issues of Famitsu and Famimaga. While some elements are pretty much done even at this early point, others were changed - some significantly. Various remnants of early development, including some elements shown below and some that aren't, are present in the final game, the SNES Test Program, and the SNES Burn-In Test Cart.

(Source: https://www.chrismcovell.com/secret/SFC_1989Q3.html)

Earlier Build

2 different builds were shown off at the press conference, with the only known difference between them being Mario's sprite work. The earlier build features Mario with red shoes and no gloves, similar to Super Mario Bros. 3. There are also visible eyebrows, and a smiling expression on his face during the jumping and running animations.

Title Screen

Early Final (Japan)
SMWProto Title.jpg SMWTitleJapanese.png

Blue coloring aside, the logo is pretty much exactly the same as the final Japanese version, as is the wood border (although the border is one block taller in the prototype). Behind the logo, however, is a brown map-style drawing of the mushroom-shaped island used as the overworld at this point in development.


Very different than the final, aside from the border and Mario's overworld sprite. On the top side of the border is Small Mario walking (albeit using very different sprites), the lives counter, the stage number (using a World-Level style similar to the pre-Super Mario Bros. 3 games), and (for whatever reason) coin and score counters.

SMWProto Map2.jpg
There are four "Worlds", at least three of which have a Fortress (seemingly looking no different than the final) at the end. The domed mushroom-like house is clearly a starting point, not unlike the START tiles of Super Mario Bros. 3, with World 2 to the right.

Assuming the World above the house also ends with a Fortress, that would mean there were 17 levels at this point in development, although whether all of them could be entered in this build has been seemingly lost to time.

Interestingly, the prologue cutscene of Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 ends with a shot of the first world as it appears in the in-game overworld before fading to a brown map-style drawing of it, after which the logo appears.

HUD, Powerups, and Backgrounds

The backgrounds of the outdoor areas are similar to those used in the final, aside from the presence of circular "donut" clouds. Judging from their positioning between shots, they were likely implemented as a separate independently-scrolling background layer.

The HUD is very similar to the final version; only the Bonus Star counter is missing, with the coin counter in its place rather than above the score, and the lives counter is right-justified rather than centered.

SMWProto HillsFireflower.jpg
Large coins similar to the Dragon Coins are present, whether they actually are the Dragon Coins though is unknown. The Fire Flower resembles its appearance in Super Mario Bros. 3. The top of the spinning platform is also much thicker.

SMWProto FireFlower2.jpgSMWProto FireFlower2 2.jpg
The "?" Blocks resemble those used in Super Mario Bros. 3, as do the wood blocks, which were ultimately removed from the final version.

SMWProto Racoon.jpg
The Super Leaf from Super Mario Bros. 3 is present at this point, as is Raccoon Mario. In the final game, they were replaced by the Cape Feather and Cape Mario. The triangle block looks more mechanical than the final version, which was made magenta and given a face. The top corner of the hill is also more rounded, possibly to accommodate the triangle block.


SMWProto Swimming.jpgSMWProto Swimming 2.jpg
This screenshot appears to be of an early version of the level Mondo.

The Koopa Troopa looks more like the one in Super Mario Bros. 3, although they tend to not appear underwater in the final game. The larger floating platform is unused in the final game but only acts like the smaller floating platforms if Sprite Buoyancy is enabled in the current level, which along with the Koopa suggests that the "rising and falling water" mechanic was already in place at this point.

This level also appears to use a translucent layer 2 mode, which goes unused in the final version.

SFC 1989 SMW05M.jpg
To the left, you can see a Brick Block next to a "classic" upward-facing yellow Piranha Plant (unused in the final game). The Beach Koopa in this shot is barefoot, matching with the appearance of the classic Koopa Troopas. The tape of the midway point is also much thinner.


SMWProto WoodBlock.jpg SMWProto WoodBlock2.jpg
The floor and background are slightly different, along with a somewhat out-of-place wood block.

Later Build

Mario's appearance in the later build is much closer to the final game, but still has some differences. The brim of the player's cap is black in the final game, while in this build the color of the brim matches the rest of the cap.


SMWProto Map.jpg
The bottom path is World 4 in this early overworld. Its also more clear from this screenshot that the overworld layout resembled a mushroom.


SMWProto FireFlower3.jpg
The Fire Flower in the item box has a different color scheme compared to the previous screenshots, which suggests it may have cycled through different palettes like in Super Mario Bros..

SMWProto CouseClear.jpg
An early version of the score tally after clearing a stage. Next to "MARIO" shows the cleared course number, that being "4W-1," and "COURSE" is missing the R.


SMWProto DiffCastleBG.jpg
Same floor and background differences. There is also no lava.

SMWProto MagikoopaCastle.jpg
Again, the floor and background are slightly different, and Super Mario Bros. 3-style Brick Blocks are used instead of the final's Turn Blocks. Magikoopa looks like he does in the final, as does his attack. Note the dark-blue discoloration of his robe, the result of a palette bug that still exists in the final game.

SMWProto CastleBoss.jpg
This screenshot shows an early Koopaling "tilting platform over lava" battle, although the platform is never that long, flat, or low in the final. The Koopaling seems to more clearly resemble its Super Mario Bros. 3 style and is most likely Larry Koopa given its palettes and appearance, though Larry never jumps in his boss battle in the final game.


SMWProto GoombaCircleCloud.jpg
Mario getting hit by a Paragoomba from Super Mario Bros. 3 (they were replaced with Winged Galoombas in the final game), which also shows that the reserve item box works the same way it does in the final. The pipe has a slimmer design that still exists in the SNES Test Program.

SMWProto QuestionMark.jpg
Mario being confronted by a barefoot Beach Koopa. The Super Mario Bros. 3-esque "?" Blocks can be seen up close.

Ghost House/Test Level

SMWProto Ghosthouse.jpg SMWProto BigBoo.jpg
Big Boo looks pretty much like it should, as do the Note Blocks. There's no background at this point and the level design looks amateurish, this may indicate that it was merely a test level and not a proper Ghost House.

The ground tiles found a home in the fortress and castle tileset in the final game, though the dirt-like spotted interior was replaced with a diagonal brick pattern and the slopes were removed to make room for other graphics. Leaked internal material revealed that the ground tiles were seemingly supposed to be an early version of the underground tileset.

Other Scans

SMWProto Scan Cut1.jpg
SMWProto Scan Cut2.jpg
A few new shots along the bottom:

  • Though the arrow indicates that the fourth picture is the score tally following a boss battle, the different coin count, "4W-1", and Mario's victory pose suggest otherwise.

SMWProto Scan Cut3.jpg

  • The first screenshot is another shot of the Magikoopa castle stage with Brick Blocks.
  • An early Paratroopa with smaller wings can be seen in the second shot.
  • At the bottom right seems to be another shot of the early Ghost House/presumed test level.

SFC Mini Interview Spritesheet

Prerelease Screenshot Recovered Sprite Sheet
SMW EarlyYoshi.jpg 1989-11-29 sprite sheet.png

In SFC Mini interview #5: Super Mario World & Yoshi's Island, an early design for Yoshi was revealed, along with some other work-in-progress sprites, including Nipper Plants, Chain Chomps, Sledge Bros., and non-amazing, non-flyin' Hammer Bros. - all enemies from Super Mario Bros. 3 that didn't make it into the final game. (The latter three do appear in the Super Mario World style of Super Mario Maker, but with completely new and different graphics.) The presence of an upright Koopa Troopa frame suggests that these graphics were created sometime after most of the early screenshots were taken; however, they are clearly not finished, as the Hammer Bro's inconsistent presence of shoes attests to. The early adult Yoshi design bears a rather close resemblance to the final baby Yoshi sprite. The P-Balloon is also red instead of yellow, and the key is vertically flipped. The original sprite sheet was recovered during the 7/24 gigaleak. The recovered file is called chr-stock-2.cgx


Electronic Gaming Monthly Issue 16

To do:
Get something better than a screenshot of Lunar Magic's overworld editor for the second shot, because a lot of those sprites and level icons don't actually show up in-game.

Electronic Gaming Monthly Issue 16 features an early image of the map.

Prototype Final
Super Mario World - Early Overworld.png SMW Revealing the Hidden Koopalings.png
  • The edges for islands are much simpler.
  • Many grass pieces were replaced with small hills.
  • The small grass area below Cheese Bridge is a straight line.
  • Early clouds that resembles Super Mario Bros. 3 clouds appear at the edge of Yoshi's Island and Forest of Illusion.
  • Small hills are not presented in Forest of Illusion and Chocolate Island.

(discovery: Sinclair#4953 / 283015959080337409 on TCRF discord)

Chocolate Island

SMWProto ChocolateMountain.jpg
This is a screenshot of an early version of Chocolate Island 2. At this point in time, the level used the regular green plains palette rather than the brown mountains palette it uses in the final game. The Dino Rhinos and Dino Torches looked different, being shown in a profile view rather than the 3/4 view in the final.

Banzai Bill

SMW EarlyBulletBill.jpg SMW EarlyBulletBill2.jpg SMW EarlyBulletBill3.png
An early, less menacing design for Banzai Bill, featuring a dull grey palette and no mouth, closer in appearance to the Bullet Bills. The near-final HUD, lack of donut clouds, and the yellow sky on the first screenshot indicate that these were taken much later in development than the previous screenshots.

US Version

At one point, the US version used the same logo style as the Japanese one, albeit with "Super" above "Mario" and "SUPER MARIO BROS. 4" next to it. This logo arrangement and subtitle originally appeared on the Japanese box and label art. The SUPER MARIO BROS. 4 sprite can be found in the graphics data of the game's non-Japanese releases only.

Japan Earlier US Found in Gigaleak Later US Final US
SMWTitleJapanese.png SMWTitleEarly.jpg SMWTitleEarlyGigaleakSuperMarioBros4InGame.png SMWTitleEarly2.png SMWTitle.png

The first early title screen not only doesn't show the 4 but also doesn't have the copyright info. Given that the later "SUPER MARIO BROS. 4" shot has both of these, it's possible that neither was ready at that earlier point or a bug prevented them from appearing on the title screen. The early US title screen is missing grass tiles on top of the ground, both early title screens have slightly thicker shading on the letters than later version, similar to the title screen of Super Mario Bros. 3 (this thicker shading is likely the cause of the infamous stray pixel on the W in the final version). The thicker shading is also present in the Japanese version.