Super Mario 3D World is the newest entry in the long running Mario franchise and the first 3D Mario game to grace the Wii U. Nintendo has stuffed 3D World full of features from past games and more to push the series to its limits. In return, Super Mario 3D World feels like one of the most solid Mario games in recent history. With many recognizable bits and pieces mixed with a ton of new surprises to discover, 3D World is a blast to play all around.
One of the first surprises players are sure to notice is that Princess Peach is not the damsel in distress this time around. In fact, Princess Peach is getting in on the action along with Mario, Luigi, Toad, and a fifth unlockable character, Rosalina. Sprixies, small fairy-like characters, are the ones in need of rescue in Super Mario 3D World. Even though Nintendo has strayed from the Mario saves Peach formula that is commonplace in many Mario titles, 3D World benefits from the change.
Super Mario 3D World supports up to 4 players simultaneously. What makes the multiplayer experience different this time around is rather than all of the characters playing exactly the same; each character has various abilities that other characters don’t have. For instance, Luigi can jump higher than the other playable characters, Peach can float for a short period of time after a jump, and Toad can run faster. So not only can players choose to play as an iconic character from the Mario franchise, but they also get a special ability specific to that character.
There are also a ton of items and power ups used throughout Super Mario 3D World. Many of the items or power ups will be instantly recognizable by Mario fans, new and old. There are way too many power ups and items in 3D World to be discussed here but it would be shocking if players couldn’t find a favorite amongst the entire mass of abilities in the game. The one power up that players will not be familiar with is the Super Bell. The Super Bell transforms characters into their cat forms and allows them to climb up walls or other objects within the game and perform various cat-like attacks. The cat versions of the characters take a little bit of time to get used to but, after some trial and error, the new Super Bell power up is a lot of fun and provides many opportunities to explore the levels throughout 3D World.
There are many new additions to not only the level design but to the over world design itself. Players are now allowed to roam the over world map rather than be forced to follow a pathway which is a very pleasant surprise. Exploring the over world map reveals many little surprises but there are also some very obvious add-ons. Players will now run into the occasional ‘blockade’ featuring a specific type of enemy to progress further in 3D World. They will also have the opportunity to play a new puzzle minigame featuring Toad, which are found in various locations throughout. In several levels, other minigames can be found and typically end up yielding one of the three stars for that level. In addition to the three stars for each level, there are stamps that can be collected. These stamps are used to customize posts on Miiverse. For those completionists out there, 3D world offers a listing of all levels within the worlds that they have visited and provides information on what collectable items, such as stamps and stars, are missing from each level. This comes in handy if players want to revisit particular levels to pick up any missing items.
Small changes such as these are found all around Super Mario 3D World. There are times while playing 3D World where various GamePad features are used in interesting ways that some may not have thought of initially, but then it seems to make perfect sense. These are some of the most remarkable moments in Super Mario 3D World and makes the experience much more immersive than prior Mario games. This type of game design is heaped on top of great visuals and sound design that the series is known for.
The HD visuals in Super Mario 3D World are phenomenal. The cut scenes and even the gameplay are all very crisp and colorful. The only issue encountered visually is in Off-TV Play, which occurs entirely on the GamePad screen. It seems a little more difficult to master a character’s location in 3D space on the GamePad screen because it lacks the depth that the visuals have on a larger television screen. Sound design in 3D World is also very well done and every musical track and sound effect elevate the game experience to a whole new level of quality. There is only one small moment in 3D World when the music for the level cut out entirely but aside from that one isolated incident the sound design is impeccable.
Super Mario 3D World started off as a slow burn and an easy romp through a typical 3D Mario game but as progress was made into later levels, the effort put into this Mario installment really shows. Players are bound to be impressed with all of the little details and small additions in Super Mario 3D World. It is a little on the short side and the difficulty level really doesn’t pick up too much through the game but it is a spectacular game nonetheless. It would be very impressive if Nintendo could top the variety and caliber that Super Mario 3D World provides in a future Mario game on the Wii U.