SUPER MARIO WORLD - version differences
Systems: Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy Advance
SNES - Super Mario World (J/U/E)
GBA - Super Mario Advance 2 (J/U/E)
--- JP SNES / US SNES
The last Special World level, Funky, has 3 green berries in the Japanese version, but 9 green berries in the US version. When Yoshi eats a green berry, 20 ticks are added to the timer, so more green berries can drastically change the potential best time in that level.
--- NTSC SNES / PAL SNES
PAL has a speed advantage over NTSC, relative to the timer, in potentially all levels.
PAL runs at 50 frames per second and NTSC runs at 60 frames per second, but the game designers wanted to make both versions run at about the same speed in real time. So in the PAL version, Mario and the timer would have to cover the same amount of ground in fewer frames.
In NTSC the timer moves at 1 tick per 41 frames, and in PAL it moves at 1 tick per 35 frames, for a conversion ratio of about 1.17. But a simple speedrun of Yoshi's Island 2 (holding right and the run button the whole way) takes 1642 frames in NTSC and 1322 frames in PAL, measuring from the timer's start to the goal tape breaking. This suggests a conversion ratio of roughly 1.24 for horizontal movement.
These non-matching conversion ratios mean that Mario was sped up more than the timer in the NTSC to PAL conversion, giving PAL faster times. In a simple speedrun of Yoshi's Island 2, that advantage is slightly more than 2 ticks. PAL finishes at 363, several frames earlier than 362; NTSC finishes at 360, just two frames later than 361.
Mario is able to make slightly longer jumps in PAL than in NTSC. This is probably due to non-matching conversion ratios of vertical and horizontal movement. A full standing jump takes 53 frames in NTSC and 46 frames in PAL, suggesting a conversion ratio of about 1.15 for vertical movement. And as seen above, the ratio for horizontal movement is in the neighborhood of 1.24.
--- SNES / GBA
The screen's horizontal and vertical span, in blocks, is smaller in GBA than in SNES. SNES displays 16 blocks in width and 14 blocks in height. GBA displays 15 blocks (1 less) in width and 10 blocks (4 less) in height. GBA sometimes reduces the height disadvantage to 3.5 blocks by displaying a half-block less of the ground. Still, the display height difference led to many small level design changes in GBA.
In SNES, when Fiery Mario is hit, he becomes Small; in GBA, he becomes Super. To be more thorough: in SNES, when Mario gets hit when Fiery or Caped, he goes all the way to Small Mario, and the item in the reserve box is dropped. In GBA, he only reverts to Super Mario, and the reserve item is not dropped.
In SNES, Yoshi blocks always contain Green Yoshis. In GBA, after a certain point in the game, you can get any Yoshi color from a Yoshi block. Small Mario gets a random color, Super Mario gets Yellow, Fiery Mario gets Red, and Caped Mario gets Blue. The different-colored Yoshis offer convenient access to abilities (spitting fire, making earthquakes, flying) that can affect time attack runs.
Yoshi can harmlessly stomp on Cheep-Cheeps in the GBA version, but can't stomp them in the SNES version.
Mario can climb vines more quickly when you're holding the run button in the GBA version, but not in the SNES version.
In converting SMW to the smaller screen of the GBA, many small level design changes were made. Here's a not-too-thorough list of differences found in the first 3 worlds of the game. Some differences shouldn't affect competition at all, some differences probably will - this list tries to be somewhat comparable to The Mushroom Kingdom's list of SNES/GBA changes for SMB3.
Yoshi's Island 1
- The clouds and 1-up block both were lowered by 1 block to fit on the screen.
Yoshi's Island 3
- While the SNES version has 4 platforms going up at the beginning, GBA has 6 platforms that are placed closer together, making the climb easier.
Yoshi's Island 4
- The high P-Switch has been lowered by 1 block, and the brown blocks just to the right of it have been lowered by 2 blocks.
Donut Plains 1
- The GBA version has one more yellow coin block before the first pipe, for a total of 3 instead of 2.
- The GBA version adds more coins in the Cape-Mario coin area, to make a total of 600. GBA also adds a coin counter indicating how many coins are left in the area.
- At the keyhole area, the GBA version adds two 4-block-high pipes, one to the left of the key and one to the right of the keyhole. So if you're approaching the key area via the vertical line of green blocks, you have to jump over the left pipe to reach the key and keyhole.
Donut Plains 2
- At the part with all the pipes on the ceiling: in GBA the pipes and ceiling have been lowered, and the moving yellow floors have a much shorter movement range: the high points have been moved down, and the low points have been moved up. Nevertheless, the blocks go through one movement cycle in the same amount of time in both the SNES and GBA versions.
- In GBA the ceiling's lower at the end of the auto-scrolling part.
Donut Secret 1
- There's a newly added midway gate under the narrow tunnel with the two purple blocks. (The midway gate's Super-Mushroom effect may or may not be helpful for speedruns.)
Donut Secret House
- In SNES a Boo circle's orientation when you first see it is random. In GBA it's not random; it's the same every time.
- In the room with the blue P-switch-activated doors, some out-of-the-way structures are added to accommodate 2 new dragon coins.
Donut Secret 2
- The GBA version adds a message block at the beginning to explain how the controllable-coin block works.
- In the SNES version, all surfaces in the level are slippery, including pipes and blocks. In the GBA version, only ice surfaces are slippery.
- The GBA version adds a power-up block next to the upside-down green pipe, as well as a multi-coin block above the second small high platform just after that.
#2 Morton's Castle
- The GBA version has a newly added midway gate at the beginning of the moving-block area. (It's still impossible to get a Fire Flower within the level, though, or a Cape except right before the boss door.)
- Surprisingly, the GBA version suffers no practical width differences in the moving block room. The SNES version had a decent amount of "padding" on either side of the room, so the GBA version just cut off some of the padding.
Vanilla Dome 1
- GBA has one less stair at the beginning, and the "runway" at the start is one block longer, making it easier to get a running jump at the start.
- In the lava area, the starting platform and the ceiling have been lowered by 3 blocks in the GBA version. Also, the sinking yellow platform has been lowered by 4 blocks, but still takes about the same time to fully sink.
- A few minor GBA changes in the tunnels after the midway gate. There are a couple of small changes in the entrance to the narrow upper route, and the upper route has been lowered a bit relative to the passage before it. The upper route's ceiling was lowered by 1 block where the dragon coin is. The whole lower route now dips by 1 block in the Spike Top area, and then comes back up afterward. (In that lower route, the gaps between the ground, ceiling, and blocks with the Spike Tops are still the same.)
- A bit later on, the steep upward slope is 2 blocks shorter in the GBA version.
- After that, there are 3 parallel horizontal tunnels. The dividers between the bottom and middle ones are 1 block tall in the GBA version, instead of 2 blocks tall.
Vanilla Dome 2
- In the GBA version, the ceiling at the end is 2 blocks lower.
Vanilla Ghost House
- Once again, Boo circles' initial orientations are random in SNES, but not in GBA.
- The GBA version has a newly added midway gate, just past the second Big Boo.
Vanilla Secret 1
- The sloping ground just before the secret exit is shaped slightly differently in the GBA version, but the length of the walk to the goal is the same.
- The Reznors' platforms are closer together in GBA. In SNES, when one platform is directly over the other, they're 4 blocks apart; in GBA, they're 3 blocks apart.
#3 Lemmy's Castle
- The row of yellow blocks that you start on is 1 block lower in GBA.
- There are several changes in the moving block room. First, the moving block with an upper alcove is slightly differently shaped in GBA: the alcove is shaped differently, and there's a 1-block-wide lava gap near the end of the block (there's a newly placed dragon coin above it).
- Following that, there's a down-step in the stationary blocks in GBA, so the next part can fit on the screen.
- The following moving block is completely different in SNES and GBA. The GBA version of the block is impassable for a longer time period, so SNES is more likely to have an advantage.
- After that there's an up-step in the stationary blocks in GBA, complementing the previous down-step.
- The following moving block is slightly different on the left side in GBA, for no apparent reason.
- Under that same moving block, there's a plain-sight power-up which is a Mushroom in SNES, but a Feather in GBA.
- The topmost step leading down to the boss door is one block shorter in GBA, though it turns out that its height relative to the last moving block is the same in both versions. Also, the last few moving blocks have the same movement range and movement period (in fact, all the blocks have the same movement period of about 16 ticks).
- In the SNES version, the timer starts at 400 ticks, and doesn't show up during the boss fight. In the GBA version, the timer starts at 800 ticks, and continues to count during the boss fight.