REVIEW: Super Mario 3D World

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One of the hotly anticipated titles for the Wii U console, Super Mario 3D World brings an exciting refresh to the long-running series. While it follows a similar story line we have come to know and love, this series just oozes with creativity – from its level design and power ups, and excellent music, just to name a few.

But what makes any Super Mario game is its multiplayer gameplay – and it’s just brilliant.

Story

As you probably have guessed by now, Mario games follow a similar story. Someone is kidnapped and Mario sets out on an adventure to rescue them.

Traditionally, the kidnapped character has been played by Peach. However in Super Mario 3D World, she is not the one in danger. Instead, a group of fairy like Sprixie Princesses are taken hostage by Bowser and it is up to Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad to save the day. I agree it is not the most riveting story, unlike the painstakingly sad tale within Super Mario Galaxy, but it does set the scene for some of the most creative Mario gameplay ever.

Graphics & Gameplay

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This is truly a next generation game in terms of graphics. From the tranquil, shimmering water, to the glorious sunsets, or even the starry night sky, it is impossible to deny the fact that Super Mario 3D World is a beautiful game, and Nintendo deserves credit for their hard work.

Fortunately, the game is not just a pretty face. It is backed up by excellent platforming and the finesse of controls you come to expect from a 3D Mario game. Each of the four characters have their own abilities, with Mario being the all-rounder, Luigi having extra speed and jumping ability, Peach having a brief hover when jumping and Toad being the fastest of them all. These subtle differences add another layer of depth to the game as you may require at times Luigi’s extra jumping height or Peach’s hover in order to collect everything in each level.

it is impossible to deny the fact that Super Mario 3D World is a beautiful game

There is an abundance of different power ups and abilities in this game, from the adorable Cat suit, which allows players to climb up walls and swipe at enemies, to the Double Cherry, which creates a clone of your character, or even the Boomerang suit which allows you to attack enemies from afar with boomerangs. Some classic power ups return, like the Tanooki suit from Super Mario 3D Land and the Mega mushroom from New Super Mario Bros, and the new Goomba mask which turns you into a Goomba, and the Cannon box, which allows you to shoot Bullet Bills from your head, make the game feel fresh and exciting.

The game also features brief Captain Toad levels where you have to collect all of the green stars without jumping but by using the Game Pad to adjust your view to navigate the intricate mazes. The variety within the levels is abundant and the same idea is never repeated twice.

Mii Verse is also integrated within the game, with pictures and comments from others being displayed at the end of each level and also scattered around the World Map with random Miis. Each of the levels contain a degree of replay ability, with three green stars and stamps to collect each level. Furthermore, once you replay a finished level, you are given the option of racing against ghost Miis, and seeing how you compare with others around the world.

The only minor negative that I feel exists is the fact that the levels are timed. I have fond memories of exploring the enormous worlds in Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 with no time restrictions and enjoyed discovering its secrets. Whilst Super Mario 3D World never feels rushed, even with the time limits, I feel as though the levels could be lengthier since the game is on a home console and not on a handheld where it is easier to pick up and play for short durations of time. Overall, it is not too significant, and gamers will still enjoy the vast levels within the game. [On the side, Shigeru Miyamoto has recently explained that Super Mario Galaxy 3 is still a possibility so we may still venture around the planets in the years to come!]

Super Mario 3D World also makes feature of the Wii U Game Pad with its touch screen and built in microphone. Hidden blocks that can only be revealed on the gamepad, platforms that require being slid out on the touch screen or blowing into the microphone to move platforms utilises the Game Pad to the fullest, and are not included too often to become tacky, but strike the right balance.  Of course, being on the Wii U, the game features Off TV play, which means when someone insists that they watch TV, you can continue playing to your heart’s content on the Game Pad.

Music and Sound

One of my favourite features in past 3D Mario games has been the music, and Super Mario 3D World with its full orchestrated soundtrack is excellent. From the familiar Mario sounds, like collecting a coin or powering up with a mushroom, to the background music, you will never feel disappointed.   As fans of the Super Mario Galaxy series will remember, each level in Super Mario 3D World has an entirely different theme and melody, and I found myself singing along with some of the tunes. I do feel as though this soundtrack will remain one of my favourites for years to come.

Multiplayer

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when I was playing with four others, it became more frantic and energetic

This is another area where the game shines. Super Mario 3D World is the first four player 3D Mario game and its multiplayer is insanely enjoyable. The game actually feels different with several players, as the whole dynamic changes. In single player mode, I feel that I took my time to explore the level and discover its secrets whereas when I was playing with four others, it became more frantic and energetic. Relatively simple sections in single player became quite complicated when you had to cooperate with four different people with very different playing styles.

One particular example of this was in World 1-4 “Plessies’s Plunging Falls”, where all of the players have to ride Plessie, a type of water dinosaur, and work together to steer and jump. In single player it is quite easy as you are the only person controlling, but once four players are in control, laughter and zaniness is bound to occur! In this one level, we managed to game over several times and use up all of our 20 lives since we were not working well as a team. Eventually, when we steered and jumped in unison, we managed to get to the end of the level and collect each of the green stars. The is type of gameplay where you have to work together is one of the game’s strengths.

However, if cooperation is not on your mind, you can cause chaos to the other players. Whether by sprinting ahead so the other players die, or by throwing them off the side of the level, the game is truly competitive and addictive! Unfortunately, as the number of players increase, the camera does tend to struggle with keeping them all on screen. One example was when two of us where trying to climb a tall platform to collect a green star whilst another kept running ahead. The camera focused on the player advancing forward, which resulted in the two of us dying. This is not too severe an issue but can be an occasional occurrence. When playing by yourself there is no problem as you have full control over the camera, and can even use the accelerometer and gyro meter within the gamepad to change the camera’s direction.

Conclusions

  • Score:

    9.5/ 10

  • The Good:

    Fantastic level design; amazing multiplayer; great music

  • The Bad:

    Irritating camera angles with four players

  • Bottom Line:

    An excellent Wii U game, and a great refresh to the Super Mario series

Super Mario 3D World has been my favourite Wii U game to date. It features a lengthy story, crazy multiplayer, interesting power ups and diverse levels. The graphics and music are beautiful, and the game play mechanics are great. It’s a shame that the camera can be unwieldy at times, and that the levels are not as long as the Super Mario Galaxy series. Nonetheless, it is still a highly enjoyable game that must be tried by all Wii U owners!

Note: the following review was done on a purchased copy.