It finally happened, it took a nearly a year but there’s a game that you have to own a Wii U for. Super Mario 3D World finally gives everyone an excuse to pick up a Wii U. Forget that next gen hype, those pirates, the ghosts, you’ll be watching no dogs – Super Mario 3D World is where your attention as a self respecting gamer should be right now.
There’s always been a divide between 2D devotees and 3D fans, some people just prefer one or the other – now there’s a happy medium. Super Mario 3D World exists in a perfect middle ground for both 3D and 2D fans. The geniuses at EAD Tokyo are responsible for this one, just as they were responsible for Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario Galaxy 2 before that.
The story for Super Mario 3D World is much like every Mario game before, it’s just along for the ride. It’s not that same old story though of Peach getting kidnapped yet again; this time, she’s on the team and adventuring alongside Mario, Luigi and Toad. Bowser is up to his old tricks and has captured a group of a Sprixies, a new addition to the series. They’ve arrived in the Mushroom Kingdom from a clear warp pipe the crew find on a walk after which they promptly jump down and into adventure. That’s it, you’re on your way – no tutorials, no nothing – just go.
3D World sees the return of the ability to switch between all of the team, but this time the different characters have different and distinct abilities some of which we haven’t seen since Super Mario Bros 2. Mario the portly all-rounder doesn’t excel anywhere, Luigi has his long flutter jump, Peach and her magical skirt can hover and Toad is the quickest one of the lot. I played most of the game with Luigi as his longer jump came in handy, he however is harder to control. These changes also make the game’s multiapler much more interesting but we’ll get to that later.
The overworld in the game has been enhanced, while in screens you’ll think it’s the same, you now have the freedom to walk anywhere. This adds just that little bit more exploration to the game and while traditionally it has the ‘lines’ to traverse, this new change feels fresh. The game has been adjusted for the added capacity of players in multiplayer; levels, pathways and platforms are larger to be able to handle anything from one to four players. The game in multiplayer, now because of these changes, is much less cut throat than before; there’s more room for everyone and it means you can get on with the show. Nintendo will be using all of its marketing power to get you to play this game’s multiplayer however it works perfectly as a single player experience – and you could have two distinct adventures depending on the amount of players you play with.
The game’s levels are the star of the game. There are influences here from every Mario game but there’s many new and interesting ideas that are brought to the table. There’s green rolling hill levels, levels that are like cakes, desert levels, ice levels but every so often you’re thrown something completely different. There’s the level where you ride a dinosaur called Plessie, the obligatory silhouette or shadow we now get in every platformer as well. The level though that pays homage to Super Mario Kart is just genius. It’s the variety on show here though that’s truly amazing, nearly every level has something to show off and then the most brilliant ones are never used again. You’ll be able to blast through most of the easier levels in one go quite quickly, but to explore, see and collect everything in this game you’ll be here a while.
Boss Battles are somewhat a weak point of the game, while they’re not entirely all the same like New Super Mario Bros. the new ideas displayed still come at a cost – they’re all easy as hell. It would be great to see some of the new ideas they’ve revealed in the game to be elaborated on. The special stages, at least the ones we can talk about, are more difficult. The Captain Toad levels where you can’t jump and have to collect green stars could have an entire game made out of them. You play as Captain Toad and use the rotating camera to spot the hidden green stars out of plain sight. For the rest of the game you’ll barely have to touch the camera, I can’t think of any time I actually needed to.
The Cat Suit, the new star here, makes exploring the levels easier and oh so cute. Levels which look small now are larger thanks to the vertical climb the cat suit offers, you don’t just have to look down and around. Green Stars, stamps and 1-Ups are now hidden above you and out of view. The stamps you collect can be used in your Miiverse posts at the end of each stage, there’s one on each level. Plus the little cat walking animation Nintendo has done here is adorable, just look at the little guys walking around – awwww.
Climbing the flag pole at the end of the level is much easier too when you can climb right up it. There’s other new suits and powerups in the game but none quite as well used as the cat suit. The Goomba Head allows you to sneak past enemies, there’s a couple of Cannon Blocks to wear and classics like the Boomerang Suit and Fire Flower are back. Another new addition, the Double Cherry, is interesting but again is only used a couple of times.
The Wii U GamePad is used minimally here, the entire game runs in ‘Off-TV’ mode just like New Super Mario Bros U did. You can’t ‘turn off’ the second screen it’ll always show what the main screen shows. The touch screen can be used to slow down enemies and is required in some levels but don’t ever try palming that off as ‘second player’ mode – tell them to grab a Wii Remote and join the fun. Better yet, a Pro Controller because playing with the Wii Remote’s D-Pad isn’t all that fun.
I mentioned the game’s beautiful graphics before but it bears repeating, this game is gorgeous to look at. No, it’s not the most technically advanced game in the world, but it’s not trying to recreate a large scale New York or a Jungle; this is the Mushroom Kingdom and it looks damn good. Mario, his friends and enemies have never looked better and the addition of HD just makes the game look like silky smooth. That near perfect framerate helps a lot, don’t be fooled by video – see it for yourself at full speed.
The game’s soundtrack too perfectly matches the game’s visual aesthetics. Big brass bands pump out adorable tones and the meow-ing. It’s so perfect. The game is also filled with trinkets, little things Nintendo add to games. Blowing in the microphone caused secrets to reveal, leaves to fly off flowers, cat paw prints on the ground and the soundtrack deepens when underwater.
Super Mario 3D World doesn’t reinvent the wheel it does however take hold of the wheel and take you for the drive of your life. Mario getting stale? Hardly.
I haven’t enjoyed a Mario game this much since Super Mario Galaxy 2 and that’s one of my favourite games of all time. Super Mario 3D World is a game you’ll play with a cheery grin the entire time, the fresh changes and abundance of ideas it brings to the series is amazing.
A download code was provided by Nintendo Australia for this review.