Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury Review
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is the tale of two very different Mario games that happen to look a lot like each other. Super Mario 3D World is the more traditional Mario game that happens to be playable with friends. Bowser’s Fury is a smaller game but has its own fresh ideas and layout – and you’ll probably want to play it just by yourself.
We’ve had many Wii U ports on the Switch before, most of them labelled deluxe or with new additional modes. Super Mario 3D World doesn’t have any new content itself but instead has many tweaks to the game and online play to bring an excellent game up to modern Mario standards. Then there’s Bowser’s Fury which until a couple of weeks ago we had no idea what it was about. This meaty separate game might look like 3D World, but it’s some new and could be a glimpse into Mario’s future.
Since there’s no overlap between the two games in terms of mechanics, I will discuss each game separately.
Super Mario 3D World was one of the best reasons to own a Wii U, but that was a different time when we were gagging for games. So all these years later can 3D World stand out amongst the vast lineup of the Switch? Yes, it can.
3D World on the surface looks like a bog-standard Mario game, but looks can be deceiving as there’s so much that sets it apart from other Mario games. It’s your traditional world to world, level to level Mario game with an overworld to get around. Each level is also on a timer like the 2D games.
It’s also the best way to play Mario Bros multiplayer as the game is truly designed for it and isn’t shoe-horned into it like with New Super Mario Bros. Players can drop in and out at any time, and pick one of the four playable characters. Each different character also has their own abilities – Mario is the all-rounder, Luigi has his flutter jump, Peach can hover momentarily, and Toad is the fast one. He’s even faster now with the game bumping the character speed up, which while not “slow” in the Wii U version, the increase in speed feels more natural. The game’s camera has also been tweaked slightly, but you’ll still have laggards fall off the screen and become bubbles if they can’t keep up.
The only new mechanic that sticks around for more than one or two levels is the catsuit. With it, Mario and friends can traverse levels more vertically, meaning power-ups are hidden in harder to find places. You’ll need to climb and fly through the air to find a lot of them.
The visual variety of levels here is outstanding. While familiar Mario tropes appear, 3D World’s levels are varied and pull inspiration from other Mario games in unfamiliar ways. None of the new ideas outwears their welcome here; a new power-up or level is introduced, used once again and then maybe never seen again. The majority of the game is also reasonably easy by Mario standards and made even easier by having more people play it. But that doesn’t mean there’s not something here for veterans; the post-game content is some of the hardest Mario I’ve ever played. Completing this game with all the Green Stars and all the Golden Flagposts will take some time.
Online is accessible real quickly and easily. From the world map, you can join or start an online session with up to four players. You’ll end up using the save file of whichever player is the host, so if you want to play a whole game, one person will have to host the entire time. The game’s we played experienced very little lag even with people from the other side of the country. It’s simple but it works, and it’s a welcome addition to the package.
Super Mario 3D World was a beautiful game on the Wii U, and still impresses even today. It’s clean with intricate details in all the levels which show up even more with the game now running at 1080p. The game’s lighting is the real highlight, adding a bunch of atmosphere to some otherwise bland levels.
The jazz band phase that Nintendo went through returns with the same upbeat soundtrack that similarly brightens each level. Be prepared for many of the tunes to be stuck in your head once again.
Even though I fully completed the Wii U game, I was surprised how much I had forgotten about this game and how great it was to still be delighted playing it. It all came flooding back – oh I remember this, I remember this, and it’s just as fun the second time around. For those trying it out for the first time – I’m jealous.
Nintendo could have just dropped Super Mario 3D World on the Switch with its improvements, and that would have probably been enough for most people. Instead, we’ve got the bonus addition of Bowser’s Fury, a completely different game from 3D World which happens to use pretty much all the assets from 3D World. It’s like when your favourite sci-fi TV show eventually does the alternative universe thing, and everything is just a little bit different.
Bowser’s Fury starts with Mario getting sucked into the World of Lake Lapcat by Bowser Jr. This world has been consumed with black goop and it’s made Bowser very angry – so angry he’s upset Bowser Jr who asks Mario for help to get this dad back.
Lake Lapcat is relatively large. You can also see from one end to the other, which means there are no load times once you’re in there. You can get around most islands overland with Mario, or you can take Plessie to drop you off wherever you want. Plessie isn’t just a fun way to get around either, as you’ll unlock different challenges when you’re riding her. Most of the game opens up organically like this; where there was nothing before, a task or character might appear who needs your help.
You’re not alone on this quest. Aside from Plessie, Bowser Jr. doesn’t just want your help – he’s here to land a hand as well. You can choose to have him help you a little, a lot or not at all. There’s also a two-player mode where Bowser Jr. can be commandeered by a second player who can lend a hand too. It’s a little more advanced than Galaxy’s Co-Star mode, and while you can control Bowser Jr. and have him help out, it’s not quite the full two-player mode of 3D World.
You don’t just go around collecting Shines and having a good old time in Lake Lapcat. Bowser’s Fury isn’t just the name of the game but one of the game’s key mechanics. As you potter around the world, eventually the rain will begin to fall. The sky turns black, and Bowser will appear from his goop somewhere on the map several times his usual size in Fury mode – far too big and too angry for Mario to take on himself. Early on you’ll have to hide, run away and find a Shine to push him back but later on, you’ll get something to help you out.
As you collect Cat Shines more and more islands with Giga Bells will awaken, and you can start to take Bowser on. These bells transform Mario into Giga Cat Mario, making him the same size as Bowser. The world scales down, and the entire Lake Lapcap becomes the arena. Bowser will throw pylons which you can pick up and throw back at him and then you can jump on him when he’s upturned. Fury Bowser doesn’t stay around forever. – once he’s taken enough damage his life bar will decrease and he’ll disappear until next time. The game doesn’t end when you beat Fury Bowser either, and you won’t be able to do so until a certain point anyway.
Bowser’s Fury took me around 7 hours to complete all the way but you’ll hit the credits way before that. After that, however, the more challenging tasks appear. Once the shines slow down, Fury Bowser becomes more annoying and more challenging to fight off.
Bowser’s Fury is the biggest in “scale” that a Mario game has even been; the whole “world” becomes the Fury Bowser battle arena. Combine that with the open-world nature it means Bowser’s Fury doesn’t always run as well as a typical Mario game. While it sticks to 60FPS in the docked mode most of the time, it’s not still perfect – especially when taking on Bowser. In handheld mode, the game runs at 30FPS or less, and there’s a hit to the resolution. However, Super Mario 3D World is full resolution and 60FPS no matter where and how you play it.
The one new thing that both games do share is the new Snapshot mode. Like the one in Odyssey, this pauses the action and you can move the camera around to take photos, apply filters and more. The stamps you collect in 3D World that used to be for Miiverse are now utilised in here. It works well, but the camera isn’t entirely free to move around so you still might not be able to get the best shot you wanted.
When Super Mario 3D World released on the Wii U, I said in my review that you’d play the game with a grin on your face and that the changes and ideas that it bought to the series were amazing. The same is true now of 3D World even seven years later. While you might have played the game before you’ll still be surprised just how fresh it is, and with the small tweaks to the game this is the definitive way to play it. Bowser’s Fury, like 3D World seven years ago, is a joy to play, and again full of fresh ideas and a new way to play Mario. This is an excellent Mario package for new Switch players and returning ones just the same.
+ 3D World hasn't aged a day
+ Bowser's Fury is meatier than expected
+ The soundtrack for both slap
- Snapshot mode doesn't allow full creative freedom
- Bowser's Fury shows Nintendo's vision for Mario is outgrowing the hardware
- Bowser's Fury runs out of steam late in the game