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Super Mario 3D World Review

Super Mario 3D World Review

For a while it seemed as though Nintendo had run into a rut when it came to Mario games. Super Mario Sunshine was essentially a prettier version of Super Mario 64, but with a water-gun gimmick and the “New” Super Mario Bros. series has been run into the ground with sequel after sequel. Having said that, Super Mario Galaxy and the Nintendo 3DS’ Super Mario 3D Land entries did a lot to reinvigorate the tired old formula. The former had a focus on spherical planets and the latter’s use of 3D visuals hearkened back to the series’ roots even more than the “New” series did.

When Nintendo announced Super Mario 3D World for the company’s troubled Nintendo Wii U console, many people were concerned about how similar it would be to 3D Land. But just like Super Mario Galaxy 2, 3D World greatly expands on its predecessor with new and old ideas, culminating in a great Mario experience.

For those who haven’t played 3D Land, 3D World plays in a 3D area but with smaller, more confined areas similar to that of the Galaxy series. Since these areas are smaller, there’s a timer that counts down as you progress through the stage similar to the original Mario Bros. games. The two combined help to press the player on through the stage, but the time limits themselves never feel like they stop the player from experimenting. It also allowed the developers the opportunity to include multiple unique areas inside each stage, instead of being forced to stick with a single overall design like in the New Super Mario Bros. series.

These experiences aren’t just a small collection of ideas repeated throughout the game. Like the Galaxy series, no one concept overstays its welcome and most of them tend to exist in a single level or spread across a few levels to prevent things from becoming stale. New to 3D World are clear pipes in lieu of the series’ trademarked green pipes which connect the areas together. They have their functions as gameplay devices like they always have, but their see-through nature allows the game to show off cinematic angles in the stages and it creates situations where you need to time your entry properly to evade enemies which are also moving throughout the pipes.

As far as the stages are concerned, Nintendo reached far back into the series’ history in 3D World. Accompanying the normal stages are race to the end levels, the Captain Toad levels which play like a game of Pushmo by rotating the camera, and even a stage that takes place on a moving train. One of my highlights in the game easily had to be a stage which paid homage to the Super Mario Kart series, having the players play endless runner-style.

Nintendo did a good job of balancing out the difficulty in these stages as the first few worlds will feel simple to veterans, but it’s clear they’re there to teach newcomers. That isn’t to say there’s cheap kills - it’s more that the game rewards carefully and planned out moves instead of trying to bum rush your way through the stage. Still, hardcore fans will find the whole experience relatively easy.

Like New Super Mario Bros. U, 3D World lets 1-4 players play at any given time. This time around, though, the second Toad found in Bros. U is replaced with Princess Peach complete with her mid-air floating power from Super Mario Bros. 2. Unlike the last Wii U title, you can now pick from Mario, Luigi, Toad or Peach in single player instead of being forced with the default Mario choice. You can even have the game choose your character randomly before entering a level if you wish.

Unlike Bros. U, which felt like a single-player game forced into a multiplayer format, the more open worlds in 3D World make multiplayer matches a lot more enjoyable, although when four characters are on screen the camera the experience can diminish due to specific angles that are created. The game also supports an additional fifth player, who can use the gamepad to reveal hidden objects on the field.

3D World includes many of the same power-ups as 3D Land. This means you’ll get to see boomerangs, fire flowers and mega mushrooms, but there’s a number of new additions to the mix this time around. One of these is the new cat suit, which allows players to scale walls, pounce and use an in-air dive attack on enemies. Most Mario games have been a vertical affair with horizontal movement, but the suit opens up platforming opportunities that didn’t exist in the series before. In many ways, it’s similar to what Galaxy 2’s cloud suit did for that game.

This new suit allows for some reasonably complicated manoeuvres like mid-canceling of a jump into a scratch, followed by an expertly aimed dive on a faraway platform which normally would have required a series of mid-air platforms to reach in any other Mario title. It’s easy enough for newcomers to use, but expert players are sure to use this to shave massive amounts of time off the clock when attempting speed runs.

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