Super Mario 3D World comes at a time when the Wii U needs some system sellers to really give it the boost it needs in the face of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It’s incredibly fun, and supports up to four players simultaneously, so it’s a no-brainer if you have a Wii U, and if you don’t then 3D World is the best reason to get one.
What You Need to Know
Super Mario 3D World follows the same idea as Super Mario 3D Land did on the 3DS, with 3D levels and gameplay but a 2D-like design philosophy – the levels are kept narrow and linear. This works well, with the camera always able to follow perfectly and players seldom losing a sense of direction.
This time Peach is not in trouble, but instead is playable! The Mushroom Kingdom is not the target of Bowser this time, either, and is instead capturing the little ‘Sprixies’ of ‘Sprixie Land’ in glass jars. When Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach learn of Bowser’s nefarious deeds they all set off for Sprixie Land, and so the game begins.
As usual, there are many new concepts used but there are a few core ones – the Bell power-up, for example, gives your character a cat suit which enables you to clamber up walls for a short distance, allowing you to reach places you can’t reach with other suits. You can also attack with your claws and do a dive while jumping to attack diagonally down.
Also included as core power-ups are the Fire Flower, the Tanooki Suit and the Boomerang Suit and levels are designed to be possible with any one, but the collectible Green Stars are often only retrievable if you have the right suit on (always provided by power-up in that level).
The world map is not just a connected sequence of levels now, either, and you can actually walk around it and explore a bit. There’s not a lot going on there, but it does have some secrets and it’s much more satisfying to run around the world map and dive into a level rather than simply press right to move to the next level.
The other very noticeable addition is four players, and with different characters who control differently this time. You can change your character on the fly as you start a level, and players can drop in and out. This is the first 3D Mario to include multi-player and it makes for some crazy events. Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach are all playable from the start and they each control somewhat differently, which is a great touch for replayability.
What’s the Same?
3D World is highly influenced and inspired by 3D Land on the 3DS and the overall concept is the same: Tight levels that are narrow in size and scope but big on platforming and ideas. The quality of the levels is consistently higher than 3D Land, with every level offering something new and interesting.
You’ll Enjoy Super Mario 3D World If You Liked…
… Super Mario 3D Land – if you like the style of 3D platforming introduced in 3D Land you’re guaranteed to enjoy 3D World.
… New Super Mario Bros Wii/Wii U – if you liked the multiplayer platforming of those games you will enjoy it again here.
… Fans of Rayman Origins and Legends need to try out this Mario game, you’re guaranteed to enjoy it.
What I Liked
- 5.) Great new enemies – the return of the Bullies, the Galoombas and the ants marching in the savannah are just some of the brilliant and hilarious enemies you face.
- 4.) Mount Must Dash, the Mario Kart inspired level, is fantastic! A number of other levels are highly memorable too, especially one with a Savannah theme and one that plays on shadows.
- 3.) The Captain Toad bonus levels are little respites from manic jumping with Captain Toad only able to walk at a leisurely pace, but they involve platforming and puzzle-solving all the same. I would enjoy a whole game full of these on the 3DS.
- 2.) The Purple Question Mark bonus levels are even better. These have a sequence of ten mini-stages that have a ten second time limit to complete, each one more difficult than the last. They require some nimble platforming skills and sometimes some ingenious puzzle-solving.
- 1.) The Double Cherry Power-up. Eat it and Mario becomes two Marios. Eat it again and he becomes three. I once had five Marios running around in a swarm. The boss fights that use this mechanic are crazy – especially with multiple players each running around in a swarm!
- Bonus.) The integration of the Miiverse into the game. At the end of each level you will see what other people have said about it, and as you play you collect stamps that you can use in Miiverse posts to make your creation a little more artistic. Little Miis appear all over the world map too and you can run up to them to see their post. The sense of community this adds is palpable, and the enjoyment of others is infectious.
Your arrival at Bowser World, when the lights come on and it’s this huge carnival of a place! Another few moments to do with Bowser had me laughing but I won’t spoil them for you.
What I Didn’t Like
- 4.) There’s a little too much shine in the graphics overall – I think shiny bricks and shiny grass is taking things a bit too far with the shine. It works in motion, it’s only when I stop to look (or on the level complete screen) and it bugs me every now and then.
- 3.) I have become used to the 3DS’s sense of depth, and found myself once in a while not realising what plane I was on, depth-wise, and fell off the level because of it.
- 2.) After each castle in each world there is a sequence that is exactly the same each time, which is a little repetitive considering every other end-of-level flag is unique.
- 1.) It still takes a little long to post something to Miiverse, which makes me hesitate each time I think about drawing or writing a little something after a level.
Least Favourite Moment
You can tell from my points above that there is very little not to like in this game. I don’t have a least favourite moment to speak of… Perhaps the little pop-up that says ‘Save Complete’ every time it auto-saves – they could get rid of that and have it show up as a toast message instead.
Score actually matters for once and your score for each level is recorded, although it would be even better with online leaderboards. Your time for each level is also recorded and ghost Miis join you as you play through a level already completed.
There is lots of content. Over sixty regular levels, each unique in their own way, as well as the special Captain Toad and Purple Question Mark Challenges. It took me nearly ten hours to get to one star on my save file and see the credits, and there are more stars to acquire by collecting all the Green Stars, collecting all the Stamps and completing every level with a gold flag (jump to the top of the flag at the end of the level).
The Bottom Line
Super Mario 3D World is a top-tier Mario game with multiplayer jumping crazy fun.