Mario is not only the face of Nintendo; he is probably the most recognizable video game character to date. And can you believe its been over three years since Super Mario Galaxy 2 hit the Wii? Sadly since that point things haven’t been going well for Nintendo and their consoles but they hope that tide changes with their release of Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U.
A few months back I got to check out most of Nintendo’s holiday 2013 lineup, and the star of the show was definitely Super Mario 3D World. The game had a very familiar Mario feel while pushing the franchise forward both visually and technically. However nothing about that quick demo prepared me for just how great the game was going to be. For both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 I enjoyed them but they never kept me engaged from start to finish. However with Super Mario 3D World that last little piece that was missing for me from the Galaxy games was there. It’s not that Galaxy 1 & 2 are anything to scoff at, but there is a little piece of magic in Super Mario 3D World that hooked me for the entire game.
If you’ve played any Mario game dating back to the original Nintendo, you’re going to understand the core mechanics of Super Mario 3D World. Nintendo has been very careful to deliver a game that is both familiar and fresh.
You have the ability to play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess and can alternate between them at any time through the game. Each character controls slightly different and there are specific areas of levels that can only be accessed by certain characters. Each level has two different main collectables. First there are three stars per level and you will need to collect those in order to get past certain points on the map. If you’re not careful and just blaze through levels in the game you will end up having to backtrack and collect the stars in order to proceed. Most of the time two out of the three stars are pretty easy but there is always one per level that requires you scour all nooks and crannies. The second collectible in each map are stamps. These are usually super challenging to find and give yet another reason to replay levels and find new areas.
On paper that formula for replay value might not sound like much but in actuality it’s one of the games greatest strengths. Unlike the 2D Mario games there is a lot more to explore in these 3D levels. Often times the new power-ups like the cat suit allow you to access areas that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to. In fact both the cat suit which allows you to climb on walls and the cherry which clones you, are both fantastic new power-ups. Out of the two I definitely prefer the catsuit as it allows for more manipulation of levels and just is easier to maneuver. The cherry will clone you up to five times which means by moving the left analog stick your now controlling all of your clones at once. This can cause serious havoc on levels but also turns on an extra layer of strategy.
You want to know the best part? Super Mario 3D World is a crazy amount of fun. Controls are solid, and the level design continues the high bar set by the Galaxy franchise. What’s incredible is that even though the setting for this game will be familiar it still manages to feel new and fresh. This is thanks to interesting level design and a ton of variety. Each subsequent level has new surprises and new challenges that keep you guessing from start to finish. The games difficulty ramps up quickly through the different worlds and becomes a really tough game to complete. Super Mario 3D World increases its difficulty even more when playing multiplayer. The added element of extra human characters puts even more challenge on timing and getting through levels. And when you play multiplayer with levels where cherries are available just forget about it, it’s some of the most insane video game experiences I’ve ever had.
Super Mario 3D World is both gorgeous and about as enjoyable as a video game can be. There is an immense amount of depth that kept me coming back for more, time and time again. This is the rare type of game that I believe ten years down the road we will be coming back and playing again and again. It’s that good. For all those worried that the Wii U was going to fall into some dark oblivion, fret not, your savior is here and its Super Mario 3D World one of the best platformers ever made.