Hello everybody, SlimKirby here, and welcome to my website’s very first game review!
Today I will be taking a look at Mario’s latest adventure in the platforming realm, Super Mario 3D World. The game came out at the tail-end of last year and was first introduced not long before at E3 2013. When the game was first shown, I was excited because I was a big fan of Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS and I was happy to see the formula being continued. It was also interesting to see the implementation of a brand-new and highly-unique power-up in the form of Cat Mario. Combine all of those elements with multiplayer that has made the New Super Mario Bros. series famous, and you have a very nice package.
Now, this game has actually been out for a few months now, but I finally got a chance to play it at the start of this month for my 24-hour Mario stream. Although my first experience was kind of weird, due to the effects of playing nonstop video games for almost 24-hours, for the rest of the week, I got to sit down and enjoy the game the way the game was meant to be enjoyed. I consider myself a very big Mario gamer, so I was really interested in seeing how this game would stack up to the rest. Remember, everything being said in this review is based off of my own personal opinions and experiences, and there is a very big spoiler warning in regards to some of the content I will be discussing. These are things you should keep in mind before reading on.
The story is a typical Mario plot that you’ve come to expect with any Mario game; the only thing worth noting is that this is one of the few games where Princess Peach does not get kidnapped. While watching fireworks outside of Peach’s Castle, our heroes meet the princess of the Sprixie Kingdom. She informs them that Bowser has kidnapped her people, but before she can give any details, the koopa king snatches her as well and takes her captive in her own kingdom, which has also been taken over by Bowser. Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach follow Bowser and must now rescue all of the kidnapped sprixies and save the kingdom once and for all.
Super Mario 3D World is a platforming game through and through. You make your way through various worlds consisting of multiple levels that you must navigate through and grab the flagpole at the very end of each stage. Unlike the 2D platforming we’ve come to know from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World though, this game focuses on using 3D linear maps much like in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D Land. Mario will not be going alone in this adventure though. The full cast of playable characters from Super Mario Bros. 2 has returned and you are now able to use them at your leisure.
Much like in Super Mario Bros. 2, each character has their unique advantages and disadvantages to their gameplay. Mario is the all-around average character that we all know him as; he can jump and far and is pretty quick on his feet, but he doesn’t excel in any one attribute. Luigi can jump the highest and even has a small bit of floatiness to his jump, but aside from that, his jumps don’t get very much distance, he is kind of slow, and his traction is actually pretty bad. Princess Peach is the slowest character around and doesn’t jump incredibly high either, but with her dress, she can float in the air and keep the same altitude for a short period of time. Because of this, she is actually in my opinion the easiest character to use in a lot of the most difficult platforming stages. Toad is not a great jumper at all, but what he lacks in jumping, he makes for in pure speed. In a jump-heavy game like this one, you would think Toad would be the hardest character to use, but you would be surprised to see how beneficial that speed of his can be. Despite their differences though, I wouldn’t say that any character is that much better than the other. There are some situations where some characters would be more beneficial than others, but you never feel like it’s an impossibility with any character…at least when you are just playing straight through the game. During my first playthrough, I just selected a random character for every level and let that character be the only one I used. Then if I had to go back through and unlock something, I would use a different one, just to get a little variety.
The levels in this game are very well-designed and feature classic Mario obstacles, enemies and platforming elements. You feel like you are playing a Mario game when you go through this adventure, but there are plenty of new experiences and implementations that make this experience fresh and unique. It does have a lot of similarities to other games of the franchise, but with the new power-ups and challenges, it doesn’t feel entirely repetitious either. Going through the levels to complete them is just one of the few challenges you will be offered in this game. Throughout the levels, there are also a variety of collectables to find and obtain that will unlock bonus features and awards during the game. Most levels will feature 3 green stars (replacing the star coins from the New Super Mario Bros. series) and a stamp to collect. Some of these objects can be found by just being observant and paying attention to how certain structures of a level are set up. If there is a platform that appears off the beaten path, chances are there is a green star or stamp in that location. Sometimes you may need a power-up to find what you are looking for as well. In fact, a vast majority of the green stars and stamps can be found by climbing up walls with the cat power-up. Like in Super Mario 3D Land, the challenge of grabbing the top of each flagpole in every level has also returned, but with Princess Peach (who can just float to the top) and the cat power (which will allow you to quite literally climb to the top), this challenge is very easy to master.
As for the power-ups you can collect, a vast majority of the power-ups we’ve seen in other games are here. You have the Fire Flower, the Super Leaf, and the invincibility Starman. The Boomerang Flower from Super Mario 3D Land also returns as well. New to the list though is the the Super Bell which is what allows Mario and his friends to wear the newly-introduced cat suits. While wearing the cat suit, you can directly attack enemies right in front of your face with a deadly scratch attack. You can also dash and run at a much quicker pace and when you jump, you can do a diagonal-dive attack which can also be used as a means for finishing long jumps across a wide chasm. The most useful feature of this new suit though is the ability to grab and climb up walls. This is very helpful for finding hidden goodies throughout the levels in the game and also as a means for recovering from mistimed jumps. As mentioned earlier, there is also no excuse for not grabbing the top of the flagpole with the cat suit because any normal jump onto the flagpole will allow you to quite easily climb to the top. Along with the Super Bell, there is also a cherry power-up that will allow you to duplicate yourself into a clone and control yourself and the clone at the same time. This power-up also stacks up so you can have up to five or six (at least) clones on the field at once. Keep in mind though, every clone is controlled through the same button inputs, so there may be scenarios where a clone may get off sync and die. It doesn’t matter which clone dies though, as whatever clone remains, after the death of the other ones, is the real deal. There are also a few other power-ups that exist, but they are very situational and level-specific, so you will not see them very often.
When playing this game, you can control your characters using the Wii U gamepad, a Wiimote, the Wiimote and Nunchuck, or the classic/pro controllers. I personally like using the Wii U gamepad as it allows, in my opinion, the best control of your characters and has a screen on the controller that allows you to look down and still see everything that is going on. Controlling your characters is definitely not bad or difficult, but I did have some issues in contrast to some other Mario games. One of my biggest problems was using the “dash” move. I feel like there is too big of a window for the dash move to start working and feel like it should be more instantaneous. Although I understand the reasoning for not doing it this way, it does make some sections kind of awkward; for example, when you are on a very small platform trying to make a big jump to another platform…there isn’t a lot of room to run on the platform, so you will often come up short on some of your jumps. This is especially true when trying to reach the the top of the flagpole without Peach or the cat suit. Although it can be managed and will take some practice on your part, some of these scenarios are very hit-and-miss, so if you fail, you will either have to do the entire level over again, or just a small part of the level again, which is kind of annoying.
Despite those problems though, I wouldn’t say the game is really that difficult or challenging. Although, the further you get into the game, the difficulty will certainly ramp up, and to be honest, some of the later levels can pose a bit of a challenge. Most of it though comes from the added goals of collecting all of the green stars and stamps, or getting to a certain point in the level with a particular power-up. However, the levels are quite short and there really is no penalty or disadvantage to losing all of your lives, so it’s the kind of challenge that you can attempt constantly with no cost to failing. It does feel rewarding though when you finally collect all the green stars or beat a level that took you over 10 or 20 tries to get right, and that is something I can really appreciate from this game.
When you beat the main game, you can be assured that your quest will not end there, because there are at least 3 more full-length worlds you will need to complete for the postgame. The main game features six worlds and two finale worlds. Afterwards, you have the 3 bonus worlds and a world that features the three most challenging levels of the game. The bonus worlds feature the toughest levels in the game, and a large majority of those leves are revisitations of older stages with a new feature or greater challenge, like doing the level on a shorter time limit or having platforms and spike traps moving at a much faster speed. You need to be ready for these challenges because they are quite literally the toughest parts of the game. These levels actually reminded me of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, where in some cases, the hardest levels were repeats of earlier levels with stricter contraints and tougher obstacles to overcome. To unlock the pennultimate world, you need to collect everything you are able to get at that point in the game, so you better have started collecting all the green stars, stamps, and flags. There are only three levels in this world, but they are quite literally the hardest challenges that the game has to offer and is well worth the amount of collecting you need to do to make it to this point. I should also mention that when you get to a certain point in the bonus world, you will also unlock a fifth character you choose in addition to your four heroes. This character has come from “galaxies” away to leave their footprint on the platforming world and has unique attributes like the other four characters.
If you want to be able to tell people that you’ve completed everything that Super Mario 3D World has to offer, you better get ready to play your heart out and collect everything like mad, because there is a lot to do if you want to complete the game in full. In addition to beating every level, collecting every green star and stamp, and touching the top of the flagpole of every level, you need to simply complete every level with all 5 characters. If you don’t have people to play with, this feat can take up to five full-length playthroughs of the entire game, which is kind of a pain. Now, if you have others you can play with, this can easily be done by using multiple characters at once because completing a stage with four players will count each character that each person is playing as for completing that stage, meaing you will only have to complete 2 playthroughs. A simple way to do this is to basically play the whole game with 4 people, and then come back later as the single person, play as the character that wasn’t used, and collect everything that wasn’t gotten in the multiplayer playthrough. Another reassuring point is that once you have collected all of the green stars, stamps and flags, you don’t need to worry about getting them again, so you can easily just zoom through the stages without having to worry about any of that extra stuff.
The final thing I will be taking a look at is the game’s presentation. For the most part, there’s not a lot that needs to be said about this game; itt’s another good quality Mario game. The environments look colorful and nice and are fun to explore. The music is great and catchy. The gameplay is easy enough for anybody to pick up and play without difficulty, yet still encourages them to want to get better to take on the later challenges of the game. Plus, with all of the collectables and five different characters to experience, it offers a lot of gameplay time and replayability to boot. I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest Mario game, and probably not the greatest 3D iteration of the series, but you get a good bang for your buck and a very memorable experience. The only things that hold back this game from getting a perfect score are minor control issues and the fact that a large number of levels/worlds feature miniscule repeat levels when I would have much rather seen unique and original content. In a way, this almost made the game seem a little unfinished, but that’s not to say the game is unpolished either. For what it offers; Super Mario 3D World is quite literally “the cat’s meow” when it comes to Wii U platforming games.