When I first picked up a NES pad, many years ago (more than I care to realise!), the addictiveness of running from left to right and jumping on the enemies as I went, didn’t seem like much at first. However, it was enough to keep me going through the next, nigh-on, thirty years. I watched as the gameplay evolved from 8 bit home consoles, through portable consoles, to the latest generation’s brightly coloured, HD version, Super Mario 3D World. The great thing though, is that everything I learned throughout my “Mario career” is applicable – even in this most recent interpretation. Everything from the triple jump and back flip to the wall kicks, all of it helps to make your crusade around the beautifully designed levels so much fun.
Super Mario 3D World is a new adventure set in the similar style to that of Super Mario 3D Land on the Nintendo 3DS, but using the Wii U’s amazing HD graphics. Mario and the gorgeous worlds in which his adventures take place, have never looked more stunning. Vibrant and bold colours help to carve the landscape and the stunning, high detailed enemies help populate the worlds. It’s filled with the eye opening beauty and ludicrous amounts of charm that only Nintendo know how to deliver.
It’s incredible to think just how much Nintendo have managed to fit in, and add to, this latest outing of their much loved Italian plumber and his friends. The focal point of Mario 3D World has been that of the new power up – Cat Mario.
The new suit was used in the majority of the marketing in the build up to the release and with such a cool new addition – who can blame Nintendo for doing so?! The Cat Mario suit can be found in the usual Question mark blocks, it can also be found by climbing trees (Cat’s in trees…get it?…. ahem) or by defeating Cat Goombas, who have the same ability of being able to pounce upon you!
Wearing the Cat Mario suit grants you various new abilities such as the ability to do a forward claw attack, a much quicker sprint, a pouncing attack and the ability to climb walls – which come in handy to find hidden power ups, Green Stars and stamps for your collection (which we will come to soon).
Overall, the new addition to the Mario power ups is a welcome one. However, one cannot help but feel that once you have the power up, you are somewhat unstoppable and nothing is out of reach. That said, the power never gets old and still makes for a great experience.
Another addition is a new take on the World maps. Traversing between worlds and levels has been popular since its introduction in Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES in 1991 (or 1988 in Japan!). With Super Mario 3D World, the map is back but allows you free roam of the area rather than the on rails switching between levels.
This means that you can wander to wherever you wish within the world to find hidden power ups, collect coins from blocks or go to Toad houses for mini games. The mini games can reward you with more coins, power ups or even Green Stars.
The new map system is a great new addition and helps to give the game a more continual feel. The game does warrant exploration of levels and rewards such pursuits. Each level contains three hidden green stars (an addition made during Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2) and the majority of levels hiding a stamp, a small collectible of a classic cartoon stencil of Mario characters (Stamps of course being introduced in the Paper Mario series). All of which will keep you returning to previous levels to attain those that you have missed.
The stamps only really purpose are to customize your posts and messages to fellow gamers around the world during the use of Miiverse on the Wii U. Although it is something that I have never felt compelled to use myself, it has never stopped me from wanting to complete the collection and has not hindered my desire to return to levels to hunt out missing stamps.
Green Stars have a greater importance however. As is the case with various titles since Super Mario 64 – Green Stars and how many you have of them, will allow you to play and advance through certain levels that are locked within the world map. The majority of these are boss levels and nothing beats giving Bowser a good old fashioned harrumphing for his diabolical deeds!
As with the Wii and Wii U outings of New Super Mario Bros. Mario 3D World is four-player cooperative. This means you can choose to play as any of the usual roster: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad. All of these characters have their own perks and benefits and enduring fans of the series will be familiar with many of them such as Princess Peach’s ability to hover briefly and Luigi’s ability to Jump higher.
These differences help to make the game fresh and interesting if you feel you would like to try a new character and challenge on some of the worlds you have perhaps already conquered in single player. The four characters all come in to their own during four player cooperative play. You soon find yourself leaping over one another, or reaching places others can’t, due to your character’s unique benefits.
Fun as this is, there are downsides. An awkward camera, incapable of accommodating all players leaping around at once, especially during levels that are on rails and move you along beyond your control, can make for a frustrating experience at times.
As is the case with most Nintendo and Mario games, the fun factor usually overthrows this frustration and manages to alleviate a possibly hostile situation amongst friends. This helps to turn the situation into light, competitive fun; the ability to stay mad with such a charming game passes fairly quickly.
Super Mario 3D World is an incredible addition to a series that surely should have run out of ideas. But with beautifully colourful and detailed worlds, another fantastic catchy soundtrack by Koji Kondo and Mahito Yokota, collectibles and different characters offering armfuls of replayability, all bundled in with a tremendously fun multiplayer mode – Super Mario 3D World isn’t merely Super. It’s Outstanding.
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