REVIEW – Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
A Game Review by Greg Dabkey
Game – Super Mario 3D World
Version – Wii U
ESRB Rating: ‘E’ – Everyone
Release Date: 11/22/2013
Obtained – Courtesy of Nintendo
Lots of new and familiar content – Peach returns as a playable character, cat suits, green stars, Miiverse stamps, ‘attack of the clones’, a Mariokart themed level, tanooki suit, mega mushroom… all of this and more in Super Mario 3D World! It might just make you say MEOW!
Instead of going with the obvious major plotline of Peach being captured, this game actually introduces a different story. The story begins with Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad taking a stroll through the royal gardens outside of Peach’s castle. They see a broken clear pipe, and being the expert plumbers that they are, Mario and Luigi repair the pipe in seconds. Bowser pops out with the Sprixie princess in his grasp as he imprisons her in a glass bottle. Feeling the need to save the day, Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad jump into the pipe and travel to the Sprixies’ kingdom to defeat Bowser. Overall, I felt the story was pretty weak considering new characters were added to the Mario franchise. The story does not explain why Bowser is there and imprisoning the Sprixies. Given that the story of Mario games has always been on the weak side, it would be appreciated to at least have some back story as to why he was there. Bowser obviously has something for Peach, as the last Mario games show him capturing her and he’s done that a dozen times already. Is it necessary for Mario games to have a back story? Probably not, but perhaps a short cut scene why Bowser was capturing Sprixies would have added that perfect element instead of having Mario and crew jump into action to rescue them all. Mainly it felt a bit out of place that Bowser would suddenly and inexplicably go after a new target.
Gameplay & Controls
Super Mario 3D World follows the standard Mario gameplay – you control a character who goes through many levels and worlds searching for flagpoles. This game closely resembles a mix of New Super Mario Brothers U and Super Mario 3D Land in that it translates the formula for a classic 2D Mario stage into the third dimension and has the inclusion of four players playing simultaneously. The player will go through familiar lands of grass/plains, desert, ice, sky, etc. Each level is covered with coins, breakable blocks, power ups and enemies. The majority of the controls have not changed and players should be familiar with them if they have played prior Mario games. The player can run, wall jump, crouch jump, ground pound, and turn-a-round jump. There are a few new controls for the player with the GamePad. There are certain areas where the player can tap on the screen to interact with the background or blocks. Also certain platforms have fans on them and the player can blow into the mic to make the fanned platform move. These two new controls are a welcome addition to help switch it up, but both can also be a delay of game as the player will need to be focused on the GamePad. The controls also vary a little between characters. Luigi jumps higher, Peach can float for a few seconds, and Toad runs faster than everyone. Each ability comes into play and the player may find it useful to switch characters in between levels. The ability to play as Peach was a nice change of pace. Her character handles well and it is certainly fun to see her use the different abilities as well as her own ability to float.
New to this series, the players can collect green stars and stamps in each level. Typical levels have three green stars and a single stamp and they are hidden in various pipes, within enemies, or can be found by collecting green coins or discovering hidden areas. Certain green stars and stamps can only be acquired with particular characters, as one of their abilities may be needed to pick it up – and some just have a switch that can only be activated by a particular character. The stamps can be used for your Miiverse posts and are unlocked in the second world. The Miiverse posts work in game just as they did for New Super Mario Brothers U and the player can post directly to Miiverse within the game using the stamps. The stamp is a basic outline of a character, power up or just about any element that is in the game and the player can add speech bubbles or even modify the design to customize a particular post. The player positions the stamp within the window (must be a handwritten post) and it will provide a basic outline of the element selected. The green stars are similar to the star coins found in previous Mario games and each world has a level or two that requires a particular number of green stars. Another new feature is the inclusion of ghost Miis. After a course is completed, the player can race the Miis of their friends or random players to compete for a better time. There is no reward for beating the Miis though, but they can help show you where the green stars are in the level if that/those player(s) collected them in that particular run through. Some levels may only provide a single ghost, other levels had three ghosts. I assume there will be always three, but I had a limited number based on how many people have the game currently.
New to this franchise is the 3D world map. The player can walk around the map and collect coins, visit mushroom houses, try their luck at the slot machine game or select a level. The slot machine comes directly from Super Mario Brothers 2 (NES) and there are four boxes that can be stopped. The goal is to have all matching symbols and the reward is coins. If all the players (or player) gets all matching symbols you can easily stock up on extra lives. The coins also just spill out and are not collectible, but it is fun to jump through them. The levels still have to be completed in order, but the player still has the freedom to explore most of the map for each world. Also new to the series is the cat suit. The suit works very well giving the player the ability to climb walls, slash at enemies and do a dive attack. This suit is easily one my favorites for the Mario franchise, and is very powerful. Like the power leaf in Mario 3 or the cape in Super Mario World, it is added to the must have list and usually will last the player a while. Returning in this game is the boomerang suit, propeller block, mega mushroom, fire flower, and tanooki suit (3D Land version).
3D World takes a note from the 3D Land with the specialty levels including a Mariokart themed level, a shooter level, and even a New Super Luigi U level – remember that Super Mario 3D Land gave a nod to Legend of Zelda. The level designs continue to look fantastic, but as with recent Mario games, there is still the lack of any major difficulty in the main story’s worlds. This only applies to the first several worlds as I cannot spoil end-game levels that have the potential to be more challenging. I do note that the difficulty is easy in this game, and makes me consider the constant hand holding that happens. I understand that the first worlds are supposed to be filled with power ups but if the player happens to die in Super Mario 3D World, they are returned to the level as “big”. Meaning that they could get a cat suit or fire flower immediately as oftentimes there is a power up at the halfway flag. If the player does manage to get defeated five times, the golden tanooki suit returns with it’s siren to basically make it possible to die. So while the later levels only have one or two power ups in the level, typically there is not much challenge to hang onto the powerup unless the player makes a bad jump or happens to miss an enemy.
I’m using this section to discuss 2 major parts of the game, the co-op style multiplayer, and the ability to play Luigi bros. I did have a chance to play co-op multiplayer and it plays very similar to NSMB U. If a player falls behind they can go into the bubble to catch up to the lead player. Co-op is the only place where the difficulty is added as the players familiar with Mario games may have to help other players out. Also there is a switch-flipping level set to a jump along with riding Plessie where all players have to help control the path. However, with that difficulty comes a bit of fun and enjoyment as you can work together, or you can simply play against your friend(s) and push them off the course, steal all the power ups or simply make those jumps harder by leaving the enemies. Luigi Bros is simply the arcade port of Mario Bros, but with Luigi only. The game plays the same as Mario Bros, but just uses Luigi only.
Visuals & Sound
The graphics definitely do not disappoint in 3D World. Mario is in full HD and the level of detail is incredible along with a wide range of colors. The specifics of all the power ups and the level design certainly looks incredible. The music and sound on one hand is following the standards of recent games where the new music is mostly safe and not as memorable as the classic Mario games. There are some classic tunes that have been remixed and I feel those are the ones that really stand out. The Mariokart level uses the main theme from the Mario circuit levels from the SNES game and the slot machine bonus game remixed the SMB 2 slot music. Finally the slide music from Mario 64 was also remixed and sounds incredible as well. To me, I really enjoyed those remixed themes much more than the newer music on the majority of the levels.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
While being a headlining game for the holidays, Super Mario 3D World is still a safer entry into the Mario franchise. The game has excessive hand holding with the return of the golden tanooki suit, restarting levels with “mushroom” status and that the levels are full of power ups. Those looking to complete the game will see that adds some additional difficulty, but the game felt the most difficult when adding at least one additional player. If you were looking for difficulty this game can be safely skipped, but if you really enjoy a fun experience then this game will feel right at home. Many laughs and competitions can be had while playing with friends and family and does add that little extra difficulty to complete the levels. I would recommend this game to those that enjoy the standard and basic Mario games, as this one does deliver an excellent experience. If you seek a more challenging Mario game, I would invest in Super Luigi U or perhaps one of Mario’s classic adventures.
+ Remixed classic themes
+ incredibly fun multiplayer experience
+ new unique levels (Mariokart, etc)
+ Peach and Rosalina as playable characters
+ plenty of classic power ups along with the killer cat suit
– excessive hand holding
– easy bosses
– not very challenging single player mode
And now… some preview footage (SPOILERS!):