Super Mario 3D World: Review
Good to see you guys again!
Well, it's been months since I picked up my writing software, and wrote about any games. What's my excuse? Don't really have one, just going to take my failure with aplomb. It's the holidays, a time of merriment and joy. With that out of the way, the shopping days are upon us! Or behind us...I'll let you be the judge. And while you do all that judging of yours, I'm going to talk. Specifically, I'm going to talk about one of the newest Mario titles to hit the WiiU, Super Mario 3D World!
Let's not fool ourselves, the WiiU has suffered over its launch. Suffered from poor sales, poor marketing, and even poor titles here and there. Nintendo has made some valiant efforts with the year that the system has had to surpass their recently-released competitors. Valiant, but unfortunately unsuccessful. I, however, am honestly doubting that the system will fail. Though I'm seriously wondering why they didn't make this game a launch title. I can't vouch for the quality, or lack thereof, of New Super Mario bros. U as I still have yet to play it. I can however, surmise and be willing to bet that 3D World would have made the sales of the WiiU much brighter. I could also bet the same thing of many of the hyped releases that Nintendo fans are waiting for, but for different reasons as opposed to this one.
Now, let's get back on track!
Despite my uncertainty of New Super Mario Bros. U, I think many gamers young and old have come to expect a certain degree of quality in Mario titles. 3D World here manages to raise the bar, something that hasn't been done since the Super Mario Galaxy series. I'd argue it may be one of the best 3d Mario games to this day, but I haven't experienced every 3d Mario title just yet. The WiiU really showcases what it can do with 3D World. The visuals really compliment the aesthetics. They're about as hyper-realistic as you'd expect with the portly plumber (probably not much) and you easily forget that you have the WiiU Gamepad in your hands, or pro controller, or whatever else you use. This is something I absolutely LOVE to see in a game. That moment when you forget that you have a peripheral in your hands, and you simply “become the character”. This kind of immersion pops out at you in every little drop of experience the game has to offer.
As far as worlds go, it's mostly the same. I do want to mention something without giving out too many spoilers, though. There's a nice change in the formula with worlds when you get to the last level of the main game. This does remind me of the overworld, though, which feels different, despite not actually being different upon further analysis. Your first is grassland, then desert, ice, mountain or beach (usually that's the only one I see that isn't always the same throughout Mario titles). The fact that they managed to make them feel unique here is the real feat, though. The beach world doesn't feel like the same kind of beach as if you'd played the New Super Mario games, and the levels don't adhere to the trend either, which lends itself to some really nice ideas. I could go on with it, but you'd best find out for yourself.
Lots of uniqueness, surprisingly well placed.
The gameplay pulls a particular element from Mario 2 (the 'murican one) where you have your choice of four characters: Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad. Each of these characters has a different running speed and jump height. Mario is the most balanced of the four, Toad runs the fastest, Luigi jumps the highest, and Peach has her little floating ability. Unlike Mario 2 (the 'murican one) however, it has powerups galore: Fire flower, Tanooki suit, boomerang flower, the list goes on. You can even ride in the koopa shells instead of just kicking them around. I forgot that outfit on the cover, didn't I? That there is the cat suit, easily one of the most useful powerups to come out of the game. A little bit too useful, honestly. In that outfit, you are given several different swiping attacks, including a diving attack from the air, and you can climb up walls for a short time, allowing you a nice recovery, or even a little shortcut to some of the harder to reach collectibles.
In fact, that's another thing in abundance here: collectibles. Throughout the levels, you'll find 3 green stars, and a stamp to use in Miiverse amongst the Mario 3D World community. But be wary, as Nintendo has placed them well. While you're scouring each section for stuff to stick in the stash, be on the lookout for other classic Mario based secrets such as warp pipes to other worlds, toad houses scattered across the overworld, as well as Bowser's golden money train. I'd count certain 1-ups scattered in the levels as secrets (including one in front of the final boss which I still haven't figured out how to get to...) but honestly, lives haven't mattered for so long in Mario games that it's curious why they don't just ditch the idea of lives altogether.
Other than just finding collectibles, you may just want to explore some of the levels anyway. They're all surprisingly well designed, and many have creative implications. I remember a level where you have to press buttons and switches to manipulate light and shadow to see your prize. In one case, you were literally just a shadow on the wall, as well as the enemies. I'd love to see them utilize some of these ideas in the future. There's this asian sort of dojo-inspired level where you can interact with things like sliding doors and gongs using the gamepad to find secrets aside from these, there are small ten second challenges which will offer green stars as reward. You can also find these “Captain Toad” levels. These levels are one of the biggest highlights of the game. You play as Captain Toad, and you have to traverse the 3d puzzle/maze to acquire all 5 green stars. The trick with captain toad is that unlike his blue-spotted friend helping Mario, Captain Toad can't jump. If you try, he simply struggles to lift himself off the ground in vain.
The story is also surprisingly different. As you could tell by my earlier mention of playing as peach, the goal here isn't to save the princess. Mario and company are walking down a road during a fireworks festival when they come across a broken clear pipe. For the first time in decades, the Mario brothers actually plumb something, fixing the pipe with nothing more than hammers, and freeze frames. Suddenly, a little green fairy, known as a “Sprixie” pops out of the pipe, calling out to whichever of the group she can for help. She explains that Bowser kidnapped her sisters in jars, and that she barely escaped. Soon after, lo and behold, Bowser pops out of the pipe, and traps our sprixie friend in a jar. I like in this moment how peach is the first to react, leaning into the pipe, reaching downward as if to grab the Sprixie in a jar before Bowser escapes. She then falls fully into the pipe, and are soon followed by the rest of the gang, and your adventure begins from there.
It's nice to see a Mario game that breaks the formula and experiments with it to see what will work, and what won't. 3D world left me with a good feeling after I had put it down, and I'm far from done with it, even after beating the game and unlocking the secret character. Already guessed it? Then go treat yourself to a cookie. Who did you guess it was? Yoshi? Daisy? Nope, neither of them. Wario? That would be interesting, actually. Nintendo, hear me out here. (after numerous distractions) nope, none of those characters. It's Rosalina, our fair haired princess from Galaxy. While I'm not very saddened about this at all, I'm honestly curious as to why they chose her of all characters. She is very nice to play as, though. She doesn't run very fast, but she jumps as high as Luigi, and has a special attack to beat up baddies when she doesn't have a powerup equipped. When used in the air, this also gives her a psuedo-double jump that can help her reach even further than Luigi. Speaking of, don't forget to keep your eye out for the numerous 8-bit Luigi's scattered throughout the levels. It is still the Year of Luigi, after all!
Alright, I think that about does it here. I can almost guarantee if nintendo would have sold this game with the WiiU instead of New Super Mario Bros U, the WiiU would definitely be selling better than it is now. The WiiU is loaded with hidden potential, as is evidenced by a few of the games recently released on it, including this one. Well, next time, I'm going to write about either Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, a game I've REALLY been looking forward to playing and writing about even before I stopped writing here, or perhaps a title from the Rune Factory series? Actually, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze is coming out soon, and my talk about Donkey Kong 64 sparked some nice conversation and discussion. Maybe I could play one of those in the meantime. The future is never clear. Ah, well. Stay beautiful, readers. Controllers and all!