Super Mario 3D World is out and looks great. Unfortunately the editorial team is neck-deep in holiday guides and next-gen reviews and haven't been able to get its review yet! However, I was able to sit down with Neoseeker community member and good friend @Invidia and play for a good four or five hours. While I'll be waiting to finish the game for our review, he was able to put his thoughts to paper for some initial impressions. I may just ask to write our review, afterwards!
Huge thanks to @Invidia, Greg Gin, for taking the time to help us out!
With the official start of next generation gaming, early bird Nintendo releases their second Mario offering for the Wii U system. Drawing upon its vast franchise history, Super Mario 3D World delivers the bits and pieces that have made Super Mario a household name. Mushroom power-ups? Check. A couple of mustachioed plumber brothers? Double check! Bowser sowing chaos and despair? Giggity!
As a gamer who first tested his mettle with the original Super Mario Bros, I'm always curious as to how the fireball-wielding plumber evolves into the next generation. From the smashing success that was Super Mario 64 to the stars of Super Mario Galaxy, Nintendo sets the bar higher for each new installment in the franchise.
So grab your plumber's hat and jump down the warp pipe to explore Super Mario 3D World.
Back to Basics
Our story starts with Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad happening across a broken clear warp pipe. With a bit of blue collar magic, the brothers fix the gateway to the mysterious Sprixie Kingdom. It seems Bowser has been taking lessons from Link and has captured the fairy-like creatures in glass bottles. Nothing our heroes can't take care of.
Speaking of heroes, Super Mario 3D World echoes Super Mario Brothers 2, where players can choose which character to play. Each one has their own advantages, such as Toad who runs the fastest or Luigi who seems to jump just a bit higher. Then of course there's Peach, the superior choice with her floating ability -- I call dibs!
Level design is similar to early Mario titles with fairly linear courses and a timer so you can't stop and smell the roses for too long. Rather than a 2D side scroller, the world is truly 3D as each zone has unique camera angles and a Z-axis to take advantage of. But don't think that hitting the top of the flag pole finishes the course. Invisible platforms, power-up activated zones, and, of course, warp pipes open up new areas ripe for exploration. Collectible green stars and stamps round out the courses, bringing out the inner perfectionist. Unfortunately, many of the courses are fairly short, and upon 100% completion lack reason to revisit.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
I'll be honest, I was nostalgia tripping HARD. There were so many moments where I'd stop and get where-have-I-seen-this-before and how-do-I-know-this-tune revelations. With dozens of games in the Mario vault, I found myself overwhelmed by the classic sounds and returning experiences from past titles. There might be nothing more satisfying than the delightful jingle as your jump underneath a waterfall of coins and earn additional 1-ups.
Inside each stage, you'll find familiar faces and items. Mario's standard gallery of rogues impedes your progress. Luckily, the army of goombas, koopa troopas, and Bowser's own progeny are no match for the arsenal of items at your disposal. Classics such as the tanooki leaf and fire flower make a comeback, but the real show stealers are the new items, namely the double cherry and super bell. With double cherry, you gain a clone of your character with seemingly no limits on multiplication. Peach 2 and 4 may have plummeted to their fiery deaths, but it's ok as long as Peach Prime survived. Lastly, I must mention the cat transformation upon picking up a super bell. It's so damn cute; pouncing on enemies and climbing up walls is amazing. It honestly broke my cute-o-meter as I bashed in goomba face.
To those who played the original Mario Brothers, the Sprixie Kingdom over-world has some familiar buildings. Mushroom shaped houses are filled with power-ups ripe for the plundering. Can't decide whether to scratch enemies in cat form or rain fiery doom with the classic fire flower? No problem, as the game let's you bank power ups for a rainy day. Occasionally, Nintendo drops little slot machines around the map. Matching symbols to a familiar tune gives bonus lives so you can continue your conquest of the occupied Sprixie Kingdom.
This Fire... Seems Friendly
Perhaps one of the greatest features of Super Mario 3D World is the co-op experience, though I use the word "cooperative" loosely. The multiplayer feature encourages teamwork, until the first stage completion screen. Those damn, meaningless points actually have a use this time - a golden crown. And no, it's not a faux-pas to wear double crowns.
The golden crown signifies your superiority over your couch buddy and an extra 5000 points upon finishing a level. But your reign is not absolute, as it's very easy to lose the crown to both enemy and ally. Getting hit by any damaging ability or running into an enemy turns the stage into a race for the toppled crown. Don't think you must have the crown to win the point war. Nintendo put in several ways to sabotage the efforts of the other players.
Some of the most fun I had in the game was gaining the cannon power-up, which doesn't distinguish between friend or foe. Imagine pink cannonballs of love and justice laying waste to the Koopa Kingdom. If a certain backstabbing plumber gets in the way, well, he always has a brother to pick up the slack. Murder without the pizazz is also possible; just pick up your ally and throw them off the stage if they get too uppity.
Nintendo continues to delight audiences young and old with their own brand of whimsy and gameplay. What pleases me most is the continual proof that you don't need hyperrealistic graphics or overly complex systems to have a solid, fun game. Perhaps the only complaint is the longevity of the game, as there's not much to do upon 100% completion of the many, but short stages. Rest assured, Super Mario 3D Land will entertain players 1 through 4 for hours to come.
P.S. Screw you Rory, you murderous, regicidal psychopath. I'll have you know that Princess Peach has sentenced Mario to death for his crimes against the Crown. May ye rot beneath a toadstool.