3D Mario games have always been an event for a new Nintendo system, and now, a year after the Wii U’s release, we have our newest entry in the series with Super Mario 3D World. Following all the Mario staples and adding several new features, it’s within the realm of quality and polish that you would expect from the top Nintendo dev teams, creating a game that’s a hit in nearly every way.
Super Mario 3D World begins with a brief intro that sets up our main story. Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad are on a stroll enjoying a fireworks show until they find a transparent, suspicious-looking pipe, from where a fairy-like creature pops out. Turns out this pipe leads to Sprixie World, where Bowser (of course) is up to no good once again and is kidnapping all the Sprixies for their power. It’s up to Mario and friends to save the day! And by “And friends”, I don’t mean Luigi and two Toads. In a great callback to Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES, you can now choose between Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach as playable characters.
Not only does the game let you choose between four characters to play as, but each one of those characters also have their own running and jumping skills. Mario is the average everyman, Luigi is the high-jumper. Peach is the slowest and jumps lower but can hover briefly to go over longer pits, while Toad jumps the lowest but is the fastest runner. The varied traits of each character can make multiplayer a truly chaotic yet very fun experience, so if you have a few other people to play with, definitely give the multiplayer a shot. While it may make the game easier or harder depending on the level and the players’ experience, it adds a lot of value to the game given how it stands out. This is the first 3D Mario with simultaneous multiplayer, after all (excluding the “Helper” mode in the Galaxy games). Oh, and no Mario game is complete without power-ups. The most prominent new one is the Cat Suit, which quickly became one of my all-time favorites. I love how it controls and what they did with it, letting you attack with paws and climb up walls, and it adds lots of possibilities for hidden rooms and collectibles. There’s also the Cherry which lets you clone yourself, which also enables some interesting level design. This, combined with some returning power-ups like the classic Fire Flower, adds for a lot of variety and gives you lots of ways to play the levels.
Going back to the game’s premise, the game is clearly a love letter to longtime fans of the Mario series. Sprixie World is clearly inspired by Subcon, the dream world from Super Mario Bros. 2, all the way to the similar-looking fairy creatures. There are numerous references to past games in the form of stage designs, returning enemies, power-ups, and remixed music tracks. There’s a beautiful feel of nostalgia all the way through, but amazingly, it doesn’t detract from the game itself, as it’s still good on its own merits. The story, as simple as it is, is told entirely through pantomime and the characters’ actions, without a single line of dialogue. This actually works in the game’s favor, because while I do think they could have done a bit more with it, what we get is executed quite nicely and keeps the game on track. Both characters old and new have plenty of charm to them, and speaking with a bit of bias here, the Sprixies quickly become favorites of mine, as I’ve always been a fan of fairy creatures in cartoons and video games.
Visually, the game is absolutely gorgeous. All the colorful, varied designs you would expect from a 3D Mario game are there, but this time we get to experience them for the first time in HD, and the jump is quite stunning. The level design is amazing and poses a challenging platforming experience; beating the levels is not so hard, but clearing them 100% very much is. Not only that, but this is also coupled with gorgeous backgrounds and an incredibly artistic look. The game’s eye candy is everywhere, and it gets better with every world as you progress. The intro to the final world in particular is visually impressive, the most beautiful sight ever in a Mario game. This is all put together with a great soundtrack that’s right on par with the Super Mario Galaxy games, never disappointing with its combination of new songs and remixes of old ones.
Super Mario 3D World is an absolutely amazing game, showing the very best of what Nintendo is capable of. You certainly never get bored with it, and it works great whether you want to do some quick play on your own or spend a whole afternoon playing with friends. It has a huge array of content, and it gets progressively more challenging as you advance through the various worlds. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say the final Boss Battle is my new favorite in the entire Mario series, and definitely in the top 5 boss battles ever, and once you’re done with that the post-game content that gets unlocked is something you won’t expect. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of this game for sure, and if you still don’t own a Wii U Super Mario 3D World is easily the best excuse to get one.