I still remember to this day the first time I played Super Mario Bros. on the NES. I was a little under 4 years old and I was eager to pick up the controller and play. Like many of us, I had no idea what I was doing and I ran into that first goomba and my long gaming career began. Super Mario 3D World puts me right back into my childhood shoes with excellent gameplay and stellar art direction.
It’s A Me, Mario!
Mario and company are enjoying a firework show in the Mushroom Kingdom. While strolling to music of whimsy and wonder, Toad spots a clear broken warp pipe. Being excellent Italian plumbers. Mario and Luigi fix that broken pipe in no time. To the gangs surprise, a menagerie of items comes flying out of the pipe ranging from baseballs, cherries, and green stars. A worried little fairy is the last thing to rocket out of the pipe. She is a Sprixie, and she quickly explains that the maniacal Bowser is kidnapping all of the Sprixies and bottling them up. Before she can finish her tale, Bowser shows up, captures her and quickly disappears. Mario and company race down the warp pipe and end up in the Sprixie Kingdom.
This is what’s great, no long winded intro to tell you the whole backstory of the Sprixie Kingdom or the Sprixies. Quick and straight to the point, Bowser is up to no good and it is up to Mario to save the day, classic Nintendo storytelling at its finest.
Like classic Super Mario Bros. 2 you can select from a multitude of characters. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Mario newcomer Rosalina. Each of these characters offers slightly different mechanics. Mario is your all arounder, he’s the perfect character to get yourself acclimated to the physics of the world. Luigi, everyone’s favorite lanky italian can jump really high and reach places other characters normally wouldn’t be able to on their own. Peach runs the slowest but has a hover ability that lasts several seconds before you touch the ground.
|Release dates:||November 22nd, 2013|
Toad is the overall all fastest character. If your reactions aren’t quick enough you just might end up running off the stage with his speed. Finally, Rosalina is unlocked after completing the second level in the Star World. She is slightly faster than Peach, and she has a spin attack that allows you to either hover for a half second longer or hit enemies without having to jump on them. Every character each has its own strengths and weakness. Experiment with every character and figure out which suits your play style.
Upon entering the Sprixie Kingdom you are plopped onto the map screen. This is where 3D World changes up the formula. Instead of following linear paths of old, you are free to roam around the map discovering tiny nooks and crannies with 1ups, coins, various secret stages, and giant green warp pipes. This adds more whimsy to the Mario world and always keeps you playing. After unlocking multiple worlds you can easily fast travel between different worlds.
Each world offers you more variety than the last. First you might be exploring a subterranean stage complete with a remix of the classic Mario underground theme. Then you’ll be dropped into a winter wonder land complete with ice skating goombas, frantic spiky snowmen, and a sleigh bell jingle tune. I never saw the same thing twice when running through the game. When I finished main campaign, the post game worlds, still didn’t repeat anything. Super Mario 3D World’s level design is some the best in any platformers to date and that makes hitting the top of the flagpole all the sweeter. Mario and the crew will need to use all the items at their disposal to complete their quest.
Super Mario 3D World has two new power-ups that will even surprise the most seasoned Mario veteran. A bell that will turn your character into a furry feline complete with claws that will leave a nasty scratch and give you the ability to climb. The cat suit adds a level of verticality that Mario has never seen before. Sometimes that precious green star is hidden all the way in the clouds and you’ll have to climb your way to the top of a level to retrieve it. The cat suit also gives you a downward angle dive taking out all enemies in your path, watch when you use this though as you can sometimes fly clear off the stage.
Perhaps the most wacky power-up in Mario to date is the cherries. When picking up these cherries it will add a clone of you and will mirror the actions you take. I was able to have 5 fire Mario clones running with me creating a death wall of flame thrower destruction. Clearing tons of enemies never felt this good. If you are skillful enough to keep your clones together they are needed throughout levels to access secret elevators that could not normally be reached.
Once you complete the main campaign it will unlock the Star World. This is where the difficulty really ramps up. These post game worlds will test your speed, dexterity, and your Mario knowledge. Be prepared for a challenge and hold onto your controller tight since most of these levels are incredibly tough and will take multiple tries to complete, and will induce controller throwing syndrome.
Super Mario 3D World just oozes wonderful art direction and atmosphere
With all of the good there are still some minor gripes I had with the game. After completing a level, there is an annoying save prompt that you have to acknowledge every time. The perspective was a little tough to get used to. I would often have a tough time jumping on the enemies when first playing, but over time you will get used to it and everything will be smooth sailing. Adding some kind of punch or jump kick a la Mario 64, would have helped with trying to eliminate enemies. For the first 5 worlds, I found the game to be quite easy and barely ever died. The difficulty curve doesn’t seem to line up with most of the game.
Super Mario 3D World just oozes wonderful art direction and atmosphere. Nintendo always has some of the best art direction in games. Running at a crisp 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second, the game is breathtaking to look at. Every enemy is detailed and expresses themselves in comical ways, making them feel alive. Every level is also designed in a similar way, the trees are covered with mounds of snow, dust storms kick up in desert lands, and there are even levels made entirely out of cookies. This is easily one of the best games to look at this year and reignites your childhood sense of wonder and imagination.
Super Mario 3D World offers up simple pick up and play controls coupled with excellent visuals, and is a must own for any Wii U owner. If you want to relive your favorite childhood memories, look no further than Super Mario 3D World.