Initially, when Nintendo announced Super Mario 3D World, many gamers were quick to label the game as a rehash of Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS. Of course, this is due to Nintendo’s recent tendency to create subseries out of the newer Mario titles. Examples include Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, and the New Super Mario Bros. games. While these games were not necessarily bad, both critically and commercially they did leave certain fans wanting more, or even turning off fans who were looking for a completely new Mario experience. I am happy to say that, despite having a similar title, Super Mario 3D World is a completely different experience, and is Mario and company’s finest and most enjoyable adventure yet.
Following in the footsteps of Super Mario Bros 2.(Western edition), you can choose to play as Mario, Luigi, Toad or Princess Peach! That’s right, for once, you don’t have to rescue the princess. Instead, Bowser is after fairies, and has trapped them inside these little bottles Zelda-style. It is up to Mario and his friends to traverse the game’s seven worlds, free the fairies and put a stop to Bowser’s evil plans. Ever since Super Mario 64, a new style of Mario games was created. This one puts more of an emphasis on exploring the levels and completing side quests to collect a star, as opposed to the simple reach the end of the course while avoiding the many obstacles presented to you. Super Mario 3D World actually blends both styles together surprisingly well. The goal of each level is to reach the flagpole at the end of the level. However, each level has three green stars for the players to collect. These green stars are necessary in order to unlock levels or that world’s castle. Players will need to explore the levels and solve certain puzzles in order to be rewarded with one. These include defeating all enemies in a given area, finding the star within a time limit or collecting all of the green coins. As a result, you have an experience that can satisfy fans of both the old and newer Mario games. You can also collect a hidden stamp in each level, and get bonus points for reaching the top of the flagpole at the end of the level.
The levels are not terribly long, but there is a lot happening in them. Like previous games, you can find Mushrooms and Mega Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, Boomerangs and Tanooki Suits. New to the series is the Super Bell. This adorable power up gives players a cat suit, allowing them to scratch enemies and climb walls. It is an incredibly effective and useful power up, but not quite as game-breaking as you may initially think. Another new power up is the Double Cherry, which creates a clone of your character. You can have up to four clones of your character, and any power up your character already had when he/she obtains the double cherry is carried over into the clones. So, you can have four Marios running around launching fireballs at enemies! The game can get quite chaotic with all of this happening at the same time, but is able to maintain a consistent frame rate. Also, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous! This is the true HD Mario game we have all been waiting for. The game is so bright and colorful! Just wait until you see Bowser’s Castle in this game.
Mario controls as you would expect him to, and is the most well-rounded character. Luigi has slightly looser control (but not as bad as other games), and can do his signature flutter jump. Toad can run the fastest, and, while Peach is the slowest of the four, she can float in the air for a couple seconds. Before you think the game does not have some sort of balance, I will say that the levels are designed in such a way that EACH character can complete them. In fact, in order to 100% this game you have to complete every level with each character. However, certain levels will require you to use a specific character in order to find some of the hidden stamps. One thing that I noticed about the level design, particularly during levels where you encounter a boss, is that there is a clock power up on your way to the flagpole. The clocks can add time to the level timer, in this case it will give you an additional 100 seconds. This has to be one of the most clever ideas in a Mario game, because it prevents you from running out of time on your way to the flagpole and losing a life for a silly reason, forcing you to fight the boss again. It is little things like that that truly show that the developers really cared, and tried to make this game as polished as possible.
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