Super Mario 3D World Review: A Cat-tastic Platforming Spectacle

by David Sanchez November 29, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

Super Mario 3D World - Wii U - Feature

Super Mario 3D World is the greatest Mario game to come along in quite some time. It’s important that you understand that right from the get-go, because there’s really no understating the sheer significance of this new game. After maybe giving us too many “new” Super Mario Bros. games, Nintendo is back with a 3D platformer, and the results are absolutely, undeniably, and unequivocally brilliant. No amount of positive adjectives really does justice in describing just how wonderfully memorable and incredibly captivating Mario 3D World is.

In true archetypal fashion, Bowser has returned, and it’s up to you to save the day. This time around, though, you’re not rescuing Princess Peach. No, in Mario 3D World, the royal damsel is one of four initial playable characters alongside the predictable Mario, tag-along Luigi, and quirky Toad. For those who remember, this is a throwback to the awesome Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES, which also let you select from these four protagonists.

That little wrinkle is actually one of the biggest elements of the game, because Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad all control noticeably different from one another. Mario is well-rounded and a tad boring to use due to how familiar he controls. Luigi can jump really high but suffers from a bit of traction. Peach can glide for a short while after jumping. And Toad can scurry around quite rapidly, though his jumps aren’t the highest. After using each character, I found myself drawn more toward Peach and Toad due to how much different they feel compared to the brothers Mario.

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Admittedly, this isn’t the huge leap that Super Mario Galaxy was back on the Wii, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the platforming gameplay on hand here is so sharp and slick that it’ll keep you glued to the TV for hours on end. The level layouts constantly keep you movingn forward, and there are numerous hidden trinkets to encourage exploration. There’s this intense sense of catharsis to be found within each of the game’s levels, and it’s impossible to clear a stage and refrain from immediately moving on to the next, and then the next, and then the next. The feeling of satisfaction is truly incredible.

Mario 3D World isn’t the most challenging game in the series, but that doesn’t derail its sheer entertainment value. The game is just fun to play, and it’s so inviting that you can’t help but fall in love with it multiple times throughout your playthrough. Of course, that’s not to say that the game is completely devoid of challenge. Certain levels are quite tricky, and later stages get especially daunting. Additionally, seeking out Stars and stamps will require plenty of patience and determination.

You can’t have a Mario game without power-ups, and Mario 3D Land offers a nice collection of pick-ups to enhance the gameplay substantially. The new power-up is the Cat Suit, which is as mind-blowingly awesome as it sounds. Aside from the fact that your characters can turn into adorable felines, they can also climb up walls and pounce baddies. In addition to the Cat Suit, Mario 3D World also marks the return of the Tanooki Suit, Fire Suit, and Boomerang Suit, among others. These power-ups help enhance and invigorate the action, and they’re also often useful for uncovering secrets and items.

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Another major feature in Mario 3D World is the co-op multiplayer for up to four players. Unlike the co-op components found in the 2D Mario titles, which just felt tedious and weren’t a lot of fun, the multiplayer here provides a ton of entertainment. This is likely due to the 3D environments, which allow for more freedom and exploration, so you’re not always bumping into your buddies and jumping all over each other. The combination of cohesion and competitiveness is rampant throughout, and it’s almost like you’re racing your pals while simultaneously working together toward a common goal.

Honestly, it’s hard for me to find anything inherently wrong with Mario 3D World, but if I had to pick out one minor gripe, it would be the boss battles. Aside from the fact that a lot of these are too similar to each other, a lot of them occur multiple times. The game isn’t weaker as a result of their inclusion, but I can’t help but feel that some better bouts would have definitely added to the experience. Even then, this is just a slight nitpick that has no real bearing on the quality of everything else that this pleasant adventure has to offer.

If you played Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS, the layout and style of Mario 3D World will be instantly familiar. While that previous effort from Nintendo was a perfect fit on the dual screen handheld, this follow-up manages to feel equally appropriate as a big screen experience. The sheer depth of the worlds, the beauty of the environments, and the enjoyable multiplayer all combine to create an experience that’s best suited for your HD TV gaming needs. That said, if you’ve got someone using up the TV, you can always switch over to the Wii U GamePad’s screen, which is a nice alternative.

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In addition to being the most wholly entertaining Mario game to come to a Nintendo home console in some time, Mario 3D World is also the most visually stunning game in the series. It’s impossible to deny that many Wii U owners were waiting for a gorgeous HD Mario game, and while New Super Mario Bros. U wasn’t bad to look at, the graphics and art of Mario 3D World surpass it on every conceivable level. Each stage within every world is a sight to see, and it’s impossible to ignore just how lush, rich, and bold the use of color is in this platforming adventure.

But Mario 3D World doesn’t just look great. The soundtrack is also massively splendid, and it’s filled with enjoyable track after enjoyable track. You’ve got typical Mario-esque themes, pleasantly lighthearted tunes, joyously goofy tracks, and beautifully orchestrated songs. The level of variety in the music is astounding, and you’ll no doubt be amazed every time you hear a new song for the first time. The soundtrack as a whole leaves a great impression, and it’s built using unique themes that come together fluidly and flawlessly.

If you were beginning to feel burnt out on the typical Mario formula like I was, Mario 3D World will wipe away those jaded feelings. This is a nearly flawless experience that’s amazing, engaging, beautiful, and mesmerizing from beginning to end. This is the type of game that makes you realize that buying a Wii U wasn’t a mistake. It’s the type of game that reminds you why you love Mario. Ultimately, Mario 3D World is the type of game that puts an entire genre on notice, because it’s just that darn good and that darn impressive.

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