Should you venture into the Sprixie Kingdom? Would Mario steer you wrong? Find out in the review
First off before I begin, let me apologize for that Cat pun that I’m sure has been done to death for Mario 3D World but I went with it and now we all have to deal with it. Super Mario 3D World launched on the same day as Mario Party: Island Tour and Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and it looks like that was a good move by Nintendo to increase their sale numbers. Anyway, Super Mario 3D World pays tribute to several Mario games of the past but in this age of nostalgia selling, is there anything else expected from the Big N?
The story for Mario 3D World is a simple one, Bowser invades the Sprixie Kingdom and imprisons all the Sprixie people. You weren’t expecting a new villain to make trouble for the Mario gang, were you? The game honors Mario games of the past in different ways, such as music remixes or classic characters returning to the franchise. You can play as one of four characters, like Super Mario Bros 2 and the character lineup is the same as well. You can pick from Mario, who is an all-around character, Luigi, who can jump higher, Toad, who is faster than the rest, or the Princess, who can hover in the air for a few seconds. Each character’s strengths and weaknesses play into how you can beat each level and collect all the green stars. I didn’t know how the character switching would be, but you can switch before start of the level.
The game play is very similar to Mario 3D Land in terms of level lay-outs and map design. A difference between the two games is that you have free control to go wherever you like on the map, you just can’t play a level you don’t have access to yet. In some levels, you can use the Game Pad as binoculars to see like in 3D Land. At the start of the game, some controls take getting used to such as how far Cat Mario can jump and how to dash, things like that.
The game also introduces a couple of new power-ups to the franchise, the already mentioned Cat Suit and the Double Cherry. The Cat Bell allows Mario and co to transform in Cat forms and scratch and claw at their enemies. You can also climb the walls as well as the flag poles at the end of levels. It’s also fun to see Mario run on all fours in the levels as well as the world map. The other new item, the Double Cherry, creates duplicates of our heroes. You start off with two characters and then get an additional one every time you grab another cherry. Old classic items such as the Fire Flower and the Starman are back and each character gets a different look for the costume/item. For example Princess Peach has her hair in a pony tail when she gets a Fire Flower.
The item storage reminds me of Super Mario World, where you can have one item in storage to use for later. The half way point, which was also in Super Mario World, is around as well. Another reminder of Mario World is the random power-up box, which spits out a random item to use. Classic enemies are brought back into the fold as mid-world stages, like Chargin Chuck (Mario World) and Magikoopa. One of my favorite levels was Mount Must Dash, which is basically set in a Mario Kart track with classic remixed music. Stages like the Air Ship and bosses like Boomer (Mario 3) just bring back enough to remind you just in case you forgot you’re playing a Mario game.
Super Mario 3D World isn’t all about bringing back the classics. There are additions to the franchise that make you wonder how you played Mario without. I’ve already mentioned the Cat Suit and Double Cherry, there are Captain Toad levels, that play like Mario and DK. What I mean, if you haven’t had a chance to play Mario and DK, you guide Captain Toad around a small level where you can’t jump. All you can do is move the camera to see what you have to do next. High Definition is one of the selling points for the Wii U and Mario 3D World doesn’t disappoint. You can see the fur on the Cat Suits moving in the wind, if the level has wind, and the backgrounds look amazing. You can see the sun glistening off the water and fire in the Bowser/end of World boss levels looks red hot!
Like I mentioned before, you collect 3 green stars in the levels as well as a stamp. The stamp can be used in Miiverse when you post about each level. The game doesn’t bug you about posting, like New Super Mario Brother U did. You can post to Miiverse whenever you feel like it. Another online interaction is that you can have Mii Ghost data show up on any level you’ve already beaten so you can see how other people have played it. You might be able to pick up some pointers on how to find that last green star. The only issue I had with Ghost data is that they get in the way sometimes but you can just turn them off so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Mario games have always been known for their music and Super Mario 3D World is no different. The game has several remixed versions of iconic themes, like the Mario 2 character select screen and the underground theme. The Mario 3D Land theme has been changed a little to make the 3D World theme. Nintendo has a knack of changing a little bit of the music to make old songs sound brand new. You can also find some 8 bit Easter eggs along the way and you don’t even expect them. You might be hitting a question block and all of a sudden, an 8 bit Luigi pops up.
Now with every good game, there are highlights as well as some low lights. Super Mario 3D World is no exception. These are minor issues but they’re still issues all the same. For starters, the Game Pad control doesn’t do it for me because some of the commands should be assigned to different buttons. In addition, in theory the Ghost data from other players is a good idea but I found them getting in the way more than helping out. It’s an easy fix by just turning them off on the menu screen. A more balanced level of difficulty would have made the game perfect to me but I found some parts to be way too simple and some parts to take a while to beat. I might just be grasping at straws here but I have been a Super Mario fan for years so I expect the best from Nintendo. Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U is getting a 9.5/10 because it’s one of the best games on the system and should start Nintendo on the upswing to bring the Wii U out of the early funk it’s in.
Score: 9.5 / 10