Post Game Wrap-up: Super Mario 3D World

Posted: February 7, 2014 in Current Gaming, Post Game Wrap-up
Tags: , , ,

3D World
This is the game man. The one that was going to turn around the WiiU sales and quiet some of the dissenting and mocking voices from social media. If Mario can’t do it, then who can? Am I right? So, let’s leap into the first non-sidescrolling Mario game for the WiiU.

The Set-up:
Bowser has kidnapped some little fairy women from the Sprixie Kingdom because Bowser. Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach take chase and find themselves journeying through the Sprixie Kingdom in order to free the Sprixies. Much like Peach’s kidnappings, I have no clue what Bowser is hoping to accomplish at this point. I’m thinking he’s just in it for the attention.

The Story:
Oh, yeah. Right.

The Gameplay:
Well, this is a 3D Mario game. Full of clever platforming and level design. I’m not trying to sound underwhelming about it, it’s all very well done, but that really is what you’re getting.

3D World is not in the same family as NSMB or the Galaxy games. 3D World sets firmly in the same family as 3D Land for the 3DS. It could easily just be an expansion of that game. The biggest differences to the game being that you can pick between Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach as a playable character. Each retain their specialties from Super Mario Brothers 2 for the NES (Mario = Average, Luigi = High Jumper, Toad = Fastest, Peach = Slowest, but can Float). Rarely is there a requirement to vary whom you pick, but there are levels that just seem more approachable with one character over another. For levels with tricky jumps, Peach is a great asset. If the level has a strict time limit, Toad or Mario may be the ones to use. And Luigi is in the game too! It is a nice feature and allows you to find your own play style with your preferred character, while also adding some challenge should you attempt a level with a character you don’t normally use (for me, this would be Luigi). The action will get more hectic if you have a friend or friends nearby to play along, as this game allows up to four players at one time. I know it’s not Nintendo’s way, but I do wish with games like this that online multiplayer was available, though playing with my seven year old was a ton of fun.

Extremely hectic.

Extremely hectic.

Of course, no Mario game is complete without powerups, and 3D World has it’s share of old and new in this area. Returning is the dependable Fire Flower, the Boomerang Flower and Tanooki Leaf from 3D Land, and the Giant Mushroom from the NSMB series. New to the game is the Cat Bell Mushroom, which transforms your character into a feline, allowing you to run on all fours while scratching enemies or jumping and dive-bombing them with an aerial attack. The Cat Suit also allows wall climbing, though it is not unlimited, meaning you can only climb a set height before sliding back down. The Cherry power-up is also present, which will add a clone beside you that will mimic your every move. There are times in the game where certain collectables can only be reached by having multiple characters, and keeping them all alive for these is quite the challenge. 3D World also introduces the Cannon Block and the Light Block. These are blocks that sit on Mario’s head, much like the propeller or coin blocks from previous games. The Cannon Block continuously fires cannon balls, or can be charged up to fire a longer and faster shot. The Light Block works as a flash light that can actually destroy Boos and other ghosts. Neither are able to be taken out of the level they are found in.

I still prefer the idea of Ninja Mario.

I still prefer the idea of Ninja Mario.

3D World also shares the collecting nature of more recent Mario games, as this time you’ll be tracking down three green stars and a stamp per level. The green stars act as barriers for a few levels, meaning they won’t open up until the requisite number of green stars are obtained. The number isn’t very high and you will generally just stumble upon the number needed, though if you’re after all of them, there are some that are very well hidden. The stamps you find can be used on posts in Miiverse, which is at least a little interesting. The game also notes when you’ve finished the level at the top of the flagpole with a golden flag. Avoiding spoilers, it just may be that these collectables are all needed to open up a couple of final, challenging levels. Just saying…

3D World does innovate a bit by adding in Captain Toad levels. In these levels, you are tasked with collecting five green stars while controlling Captain Toad who is unable to jump or use special powers. These levels are puzzle levels and could easily make up a game all by themselves. They are not required to finish the game or move on, instead sitting by themselves on the free-roam world map.

Something about a new Mario over-world map always makes me excited.

Something about a new Mario over-world map always makes me excited.

So, that leaves us with the main meat of the game, the main levels. While they are very similar to 3D Land, Nintendo has thrown in some ingenious design to make them feel unique. These include platforms that won’t extend unless touched on the game pad, avoid the spotlight stealth type levels, a chase the flagpole level, levels in which you ride a dinosaur like creature, and much more than I can mention here. The levels start off easy enough, but do become very challenging as you advance in the game. Fortunately, the designers avoided making them frustrating, toeing the line between that and hard very well. At no point did I ever feel that the game had cheated me, which is key in a game such as this that depends so heavily on increasing challenge. I’ll also say that the final battle against Bowser is extremely entertaining and well thought out. Even better than what was achieved in 3D Land.

Yoshi's more prehistoric cousin.

Yoshi’s more prehistoric cousin.

Conclusions:
If I’m being honest here, I did like this game, and there are some very creative choices made in it, but saying all that, it still felt tired to me. I suspect that’s because I put quite a bit of time into 3D Land which 3D World is based upon. There’s no one thing I can point at to explain this feeling, it was just an overall “I’ve done this before” vibe. It also doesn’t help that I far prefer the more open level feel of Super Mario 64 and, to a lesser extent, the Galaxy games. In each of those, you are plopped down in a level and expected to explore a bit to discover what you’re after. In 3D Land and 3D World, it’s much more straight-forward. It truly is a 2D Mario game created in a 3D World.

So, while I was definitely left with a familiar taste after playing 3D World, it is still an extremely well made game, and quite a bit of fun. As I stated earlier, the challenge ramps up well, there are many levels that do shake up what you expect or have seen in previous Mario games, and the boss battles, even outside of Bowser, are well done and entertaining. Also, there may be some post game content that will push the challenge even further, including a possible fifth playable character to add even more variety to an already good game. My bottom line on this game, if you own a WiiU, then this game should be in your library. Even if, like me, this isn’t your preferred style of Mario, you’ll still get immense joy out of playing through it.

Hmmmmmm...

Hmmmmmm…

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