There is no shortage of attempts to makes games from decades past playable on today’s hardware, but there is at least one aspect that has failed to get adapted so far. These games were made specifically for the display technology of their period, which mostly meant CRTs with 4:3 aspect ratios. Some purists might prefer playing classic retro games that way, but others would prefer not to see black borders all around. Fortunately, a new mod gives the SNES version of Super Mario World a wider viewport, provided you’re willing to go through hoops to get it working.
You can’t really blame developers of the past for not “future-proofing” their games. No one probably imagined TVs and monitors sporting ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratios that some today still find ridiculous. Fortunately, developers can also get pretty creative and ingenious, leading to mods that no one would have thought possible, let alone necessary, years ago.
This newest mod for Super Mario World works by modifying the game’s internal screen from 256×224 to 352×224 to get a 16:9 aspect ratio. Of course, there’s no screen today with that super low-res density, so the other part of the formula requires applying other mods to support HD resolutions. That’s why this particular mod so far works only with the bsnes-hd emulator and nothing else, at least for now.
It isn’t simple as downloading a ROM and playing it on the emulator, though. You have to apply the mod to an existing ROM, which, for legal reasons, you have to get on your own. You also have to make sure to get the SNES version of Super Mario World, no the more recent Game Boy Advance ports or similar. There are other steps detailed in the wide-snes GitHub page, but it should be simple enough for seasoned emulator users to go through.
Some will probably disagree with playing the original Super Mario World in anything other than its original 4:3 format. This mod at least opens the doors for those who want to fully take advantage of modern hardware. It supports 16:9 and 16:10 monitors but support for 2:1 and 21:9 ratios are also in progress. There’s also ongoing interest in developing a more generic “wide-snes” mod that can be applied to any SNES game that has a ROM that exists somewhere on the Web.