Super Mario 3D World - Review
To call Super Mario 3D World a platformer is something of a misnomer. This is a game that refers to levels as courses and has a constant timer running down on every level. By rights, this is a racing game, with its levels swapping your traditional chicanes and speed ramps for death-defying platform jumps and blasting through pipes like a crazy, moustachioed bullet.
And like all good racing games it boasts a solid multiplayer. Jamming three extra players onto the screen will result in chaos, but there's no denying it makes for a good time. Are all four of you attempting to synchronise jumps on moving platformers? Good luck with that.
People going alone aren't left out either. This is classic Mario, which manages to be both a blessing and a curse to a game that's, to a certain degree at least, holding the fate of the Wii U in its hands.
Provided you've played at least one of Mario's previous outings, this latest one doesn't need an introduction. You jump, you hover and you squash Goombas until you finally reach that satisfying end-of-level flag and hoped you picked up enough green stars along the way.
Rather than force you into the boots of Mario, the game offers you the chance to play as Luigi, Toad, or Peach (and one other character...) instead. Each comes with slightly different abilities. For example, Toad is fastest but has the worst jump, while Luigi can jump higher but has terrible acceleration and Peach has the benefit of a nifty little hovering ability to save her from the odd misfired leap.
It's a simple way of adding a little variety to each character and does actually have an impact on certain levels, with Luigi and Peach in particular being capable of reaching areas that the others can't. Nintendo have also thrown in a bunch of special power-ups as well, much like in Super Mario 3D Land. The Tanooki suit provides you with a few seconds of hovering whilst others grant abilities such as being able to fire out boomerangs or clamber up walls. By giving the player the ability to store an additional power-up, it adds another little layer of strategy as you work out which power-up is best to tackle each situation.
And there's plenty of different situations. Nintendo still show why they're one of the best at producing smart, well-crafted, levels. The first few worlds or so start off easy but then begin to get considerably more difficult around the half-way mark. The genius of it though is how Nintendo imparts knowledge to the player without ever stopping to bring up a tutorial; the game itself is the teacher, and any mistakes you make is almost always because you weren't paying attention.
There's a few breaks from the traditional levels to mix up the pace. The major addition being levels where you play as Captain Toad and have to navigate around a 3D level block where you're unable to jump. They operate more like puzzles than platforming levels, and whilst they're enjoyable they feel like they'd be better suited to the 3DS and its 3D function rather than the Wii U.
Speaking of the Wii U, there's very little here than makes use of the consoles unique design. A few levels have platforms that can be tapped, which raises and lowers them, and blowing on the mic provides a gust of wind to power propeller blades, but the actual instances where the gamepad comes into play are few and far between.
In one sense, this wouldn't be a problem. After all, Super Mario Galaxy, made surprisingly little use of the motion controls of the Wii and still crafted what is arguably the console's best game. However, as you continue playing 3D World, there's that nagging feeling that this is a very vanilla Mario game. Super Mario 64 brought platforming titles crashing into the 3D era, whilst both the GameCube's Super Mario Sunshine and Galaxy on the Wii managed to further mould the classic Mario format for their respective consoles.
In contrast, Super Mario 3D World, is well...just Mario. It's even worse when you consider this is essentially the same experience you've played on the 3DS with 3D Land two years ago. It seems churlish to complain that a game isn't all that interesting when it's so well crafted, but that's the problem, those other Mario titles took some risks, switched up the mechanics and were still great games. 3D World is incredibly pedestrian in comparison.
Obviously, the Wii U still remains somewhat starved of unique games and, in that sense at least, Super Mario 3D World is an absolute godsend. It manages to cater to any kind of player; whether you're there for the party aspect, with three other players running around, or just wanting a genuinely challenging platformer. If you're looking for something a little different from Mario though, you'd perhaps be better off looking elsewhere.
Super Mario 3D World was released in November, exclusively for the Wii U.
© 2014 LudoLogic