Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Release Date: November 22, 2013 (NA)
Mario is back, and he’s better than ever
Nintendo has attempted to reinvent Mario in various ways with previous titles that have been released but has been unable to fully accomplish their goal. The status quo can only go so far in the franchise, and Nintendo has finally come to realize a slight change was needed to reinvigorate Mario and friends on the console. They have now accomplished that goal, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Super Mario Bros. and Mario 64. New elements are finally on the Wii U that not only feel natural to the gameplay, but rather, make you wonder how we ever played Mario without them. Super Mario 3D World brings the open world, limited free-roaming mechanics combined with 2D elements to the Wii U for the first time.
As soon as you’re dropped into the Sprixie Kingdom to help save the Sprixie fairies from Bowser, you are immersed in a fun, new world. Mario, Princess Peach, Luigi, and Toad are all playable characters with unique abilities that can help you progress through the levels. The characters can be swapped at any time prior to the start of the level with a simple press of a button. For example, Mario has his normal jump and float that has been seen in the past, Luigi can jump higher than the others but falls slower, Princess Peach runs quite slow but has the ability to float for longer periods, and Toad runs fast but lacks a decent jumping height. Use them accordingly because collecting stars is a must as you can only progress through the worlds if you’ve collected enough!
The sequential stages are back but with a twist. The new abilities that are in the Sprixie Kingdom are phenomenal and fun! Mario and friends can meow change into various outfits such as the cat transformation. This ability allows you to run faster and climb throughout the level to new heights. Double cherries create a duplicate of the player, and yes they can be stacked! Many different characters running around at the same time, being controlled by one controller is brilliant and challenging. Some levels are even designed to have multiples of your character running with you to help reach heights that, alone, you’re unable to reach. Goomba outfits help you blend in with other Goombas, allowing you to take a stealthy approach to getting past those swift mushrooms! The ability to free roam throughout the world brings new aspects that haven’t been seen in the past. Objects such as baseballs and bombs are spread throughout, allowing you to solve puzzles and obtain items that are unobtainable otherwise. Keep in mind, secrets are everywhere, and a keen eye will help you spot them.
Super Mario 3D World nails what it lacked in Super Mario Wii U in regards to visuals and audio. The HD graphics are stunning and one can catch themselves just staring at how beautiful the scenery is in the levels. Not only are the visuals phenomenal, so is the audio. The music is well composed and redefines the audio that other past Mario’s have done so well. As you progress through the worlds, the music becomes more and more upbeat, creating the “on the edge of your seat” effect as you perform various dangerous tasks throughout the levels. The levels are challenging and sprinting through is definitely ill-advised. Careful planning can decide life or death in the worlds, as new Wii U Gamepad elements are introduced. Blowing into your gamepad now creates a wind effect that “shakes” things up throughout the level, and helps show things that weren’t visible before. Platforms that are moveable by wind, now require a simple blow into the gamepad to help you float across to safety.
Super Mario 3D World does have a couple of flaws unfortunately. Minor frame rate issues are present at various times throughout the game. The issues in no way distract as some games do, but are noticeable, nonetheless. The four player co-op is fun but lacks the ability to create a sense of working together to accomplish a goal. The game rewards for finishing first, so jeopardizing other players rather than working together is likely to occur. The camera definitely doesn’t help in this situation. As the players progress at their own pace, the one person who wants to deviate from the team causes the camera to zoom out, hindering your ability to realize what you’re actually doing.
While it would have been nice to have a smooth, perfect play experience and better multiplayer, Super Mario 3D World is one of the best in the franchise. Mario is reinvented with the new gameplay style, and Nintendo’s approach couldn’t be more spot on.