In Mario 2 the first thing that happens is you coming through a door and falling down into Subcon, just like how in the manual Mario and his friends find the door to Subcon. When beat a level the next level starts in a similar environment, i. e. if it was a cave you start outin a cave and climb out.
Mario 3 had the world map, which allowed it to present the game like a board game where you pick your path. There was a clear continuity in the world map. Before you were up in the sky you started at the groud and saw a mysterious tower (the Tower of Babel?) and when you climbed it you were up in the sky (definitely the Tower of Babel). After beating desert world you arrived at water world, which is basically a shore near the ocean. When you beat water world you arrive at giant world, which is an island (from Gulliver’s Travels?).The point is that the concept of worlds was just there to give the illusion of the game being larger than it actually was, Nintendo tried to make up for the limitations in technology. In Mario World we finally got one cohesive word, you could even press Start and move the camera around. First you were on Yoshi’s island, but once you beat the boss you would properly enter Dinosaur Land. You could even get an early glimpse by climbing the mountain with the yellow Switch Palace. It would have been easier to make the mountain top part of the island, but it made more sense to be able to see the surrounding areas from the top of a mountain. You could see the mountain which was housing Vanilla Dome, you could see the Cheese bridge and Chocolate Island (BTW, even when I was little I found these food names stupid, it’s Dinosaur Land, not Candy Land).
In the “New” games worlds are nothing more than theme sets. How on earth does it make sense that ice world comes after desert world? Why does the tropical water world come after ice world? At least it makes sense why Mario ends up in sky world (he fell off the air ship), but that’s only on the Wii, not on DS where you just appear in the sky for no aparrent reason. But then you get to lava world from sky world, that’s like the total opposite. At least in Mario 3 it was possible tha Mario used a warp pipe at the end of pipe world. We liked the worlds in Mario 3 not because they were themes, but because of what they represented.
I’d like to see a more flashed out world again instead of tropes. Let’s say there is a mountain. The first level or two would be grassy but with steep slopes and hills. The next levels would have a clear rock theme. Some levels might have a forst theme, not a jungle but a northern style forest. Somewhere along the mountain the path would fork, one path would lead through the mountain into a cave area while another path would lead to the top. What’s on top of the mountain? Some abandoned ruins? Like a Himalayan monastery? Or maybe a glacier whith frozen prehistoric enemies? What lies beyon the mountain? How about hidden valley with dinosaurs where you find living versions of the previously frozen enemies? Or a volcano making for an abrupt contrast with the glacier? What would you find along the underground path? The domain of the mole enemies? Or Bowser’s secret weapon factories? Prehistoric plants and animals like on The Journey to the Center of the Earth? Would the tunnel lead back to the other side of the mountain or take you along a different path? Maybe the exit from the undergroudn would lead right into the volcano (just like in the novel).
I’d like to see Nintendo try to make Mario feel like an advanture again, not a series of theme parks with enemies happily dancing and marching towards you to get stomped. The separate worlds were fine when the hardware was limited but now that we can have one proper world there is no reason not to. It would also allow more variety, because the level design wouldn’t have to follow a straight pattern without break. Desert world gets really boring when all you see around you is just desert. it would also allow for one-shot levels, if you want a mine cart level you wouldn’t need to create an entire mine cart world. I think a crystal theme would be great to explore but I wouldn’t want an entire world just devoted to crystals.
Of course we won’t see anything like that as long as Mario is seen as just a series of tropes always in the same order.
Super Mario World only existed on one world: Dinosaur Land. That was why everything was interconnected. Super Mario Brothers 3 was also interconnected within each world.
The reason why there are worlds is because the Mushroom Kingdom is Eight Worlds, not eight continents. The entire definition of the Mushroom Kingdom is the multiple worlds.