Super Mario 3D World Review
Super Mario 3D World Review
As first impressions go – Super Mario 3D World had a horrid one. Making its first appearance at E3 2013 – the debut trailer was uninspired and lacked the typical Mario magic we have come to expect for each upcoming entry. I learned many years that you should not underestimate Nintendo – especially when it comes to Mario. Now that Super Mario 3D World is out, we can safely say that many people are eating crows; including myself. Without a doubt Super Mario 3D World turned out to be better than what we initially expected – in fact – it will be forever remembered as one of the best games of this generation – perhaps even as one of the greatest Mario games ever.
You will be happy to hear that Super Mario 3D World does break away from Mario conventions. I have not been playing Mario games for that long – to be honest the first Mario game I’ve finished is Super Mario Galaxy – so my knowledge of the series is limited. With this said, it was exciting to discover that you will not be saving Princess Peach this time around. I hate tired tropes, especially reused ones that involve saving a certain princess – so it is a refreshing take on a Mario narrative. However, don’t expect great feats in storytelling as the story is very much a throwaway. In simplistic terms, Mario and Co will venture off to save a group fairies from Bowser, it isn’t exactly great storytelling, but it does provide context for the gameplay.
Super Mario 3D World follows the same gameplay style as its predecessor – Super Mario 3D Land – as oppose to the adventure orientated style of the Galaxy branch. The gameplay is a mesh of old school and new ideas with a strong emphasis on tight platforming that is typical of 2D Mario’s and modern game design. In each and every level – the goal is to get to the flag pole at the end of the stage. While on paper, it does sound like the 2D Mario game,s but the design follows more in line with 3D platforming principles. Essentially, 3D World is a bridge between two Mario styles.
The most impressive aspect of Super Mario 3D World is the level design. Nintendo’s mastery over game design is once again in show in Super Mario 3D World. Levels are crafted with precision and care – so much so – that every platform is positioned perfectly – that every enemy is placed deliberately – that every coin is panned out to correspond with a jump – it is a game thought has so much thought invested into its heart. Most laudable is how much originality and creativity is used in the level design. Not once did I have a feeling of déjà vu while playing Super Mario 3D World. By that I mean, the levels always have their own unique twist and design level. Ultimately, the gameplay offers unrelenting variety and freshness – a feat that very games achieve. One moment you will be jumping around in a cat suit, the next you will be sidescrolling 2D style behind the shadows, the next you could be on the back of a Dino sliding down waterfalls, the next you could be following the beat of the music – the imagination and creativity that goes into the level design is truly impressive. Best of all is that towards the second half of the game the game notches up the difficulty level up with some truly devious courses.
To compliment the level design – Nintendo has included a few new power ups into the Mario universe – the most noticeable being the cat suit. When in cat form Mario can swipe at enemies, but more importantly the cat abilities allow you to climb on walls making long vertical stretches easier to traverse. The second new power up is the double cherry which upon use creates a clone of your character. The joy of using the double cherry is juggling your clones simultaneously, especially in tight platforming sections.
However, in my opinion the biggest selling point of Super Mario 3D World is the multiplayer. In multiplayer, you can select one of four characters: Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad. Each characters has their own perks, for example, Luigi can jump higher, Toad runs faster and Peach can float. The beauty of multiplayer is that you can compete by attempting to earn the highest score. During my playthrough, I found my group scrambling to get that one coin or stomp on that Goomba just for the chance to get top honors. Admittedly, I was quite skeptical about multiplayer, especially after playing NSMBU, however, after playing with a few buddies sitting on the couch to play the game, any skepticism I had was soon gone. In fact, the best experience can only be had in multiplayer.
Furthermore, unlike NSMBU, I had the impression that the stages have been designed specifically in mind for multiplayer. At the moment I am having difficulty explaining how, but the game is much more accommodating for multiplayer. Perhaps it is because of the 3D plain allowing players to traverse in open spaces giving multiple players more room to play with. Perhaps it is because, novice players can bubble themselves towards other players, allowing the most adept person to tackle on the difficult parts. I implore you, if possible, that you play Super Mario 3D World with friends as this is where the game shine at a whole new level. It is unfortunate Nintendo did not attempt to incorporate online play.
This is a 3D Mario game, so you would expect excellent production values from Nintendo. From a visual standpoint, Super Mario 3D World is by far the best looking Wii U game, ahead of Wind Waker HD and Pikmin 3 at this point. While it does not have the same artistic vibrance of the galaxy games, SM3DW does sport a clean crisp look with moments of absolute beauty. Think of 3D Land, but in HD with better shaders and visual effects. I found the lighting in certain stages simply beautiful that sometimes I would stop playing for a moment’s time just to eat up the eye candy. Furthermore, I found the music equally impressive. The tunes are consistently catchy with the 3D World theme being the highlight. Unfortunately – similarly to 3D Land – SM3dW does recycle the same tracks again and again, by that I mean you will hear the same tune from other stages – so the novelty can wear thin.
I find it very hard to fault Super Mario 3D World as it is the complete package. The game is packed to the rafters with content even after you finished the game. At the time of writing this review – I am attempting to complete the game 100% – this requires collecting all green stars and stamps in each stage plus the additional optional bonus stages. You know what Super Mario 3D World is well worth your money and definitely a good reason to buy a Wii U.
This would not be a fair review if it did not criticize the game. Unfortunately, for a game that is touted to be a system seller for the Wii U – Super Mario 3D World does not utilize the gamepad well. As expected with all Wii U games – offscreen play is available – that is all well and good. However, I felt that Nintendo tacked on some gamepad implementation for sake of it which ultimately felt out of place in the game. For example, some stages forced you to blow into the gamepad or use the touchscreen to activate platforms, however performing the actions whilst attempting to play the game felt incredibly awkward.
While it might not be the ideal game to showcase of the consoles unique capabilities, Super Mario 3D World is a very good reason to pick up the Wii U. It is a game that sports superb level design, visual candy and an insanely fun local multiplayer. With Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo has once again reaffirmed their position as masters of game design.