Nintendo are masters of their craft. Even with a series that has seemingly been around since the dawn of time, they still manage to amaze, astound, and create a sense of wonder that takes you back to your childhood years. All of these feelings come thick and fast with Super Mario 3D World. The time to own a Wii U is now.
Following the Super Mario Bros 2 rules, the playable characters are Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad, each having a different feel to their jumping. Following the initial character selection you’re treated to a charming little cut scene showing Bowser once again cause havoc and kidnap a bunch of fairy-like creatures called Sprixies. It’s nothing if not predictable, but then you don’t exactly play Mario games for their intricate plot.
Starting off as very reminiscent of Super Mario 3D Land, the best Mario game on the 3DS, levels are fully 3D, but still have that element of 2D about them. Able to walk around in a full 3D space, the majority of levels do still have a clear beginning and end, as opposed to the more exploration focus of a Mario 64 or Galaxy. The levels themselves are nothing but a joy, with not a single blemish in the many worlds you’ll explore. They may follow the familiar pattern of old (Ice, desert, fire etc.), but they do enough different with each level that you won’t care. From the short, but sweet Mario Kart throwback to the water slide dinosaur ride, each one will produce a smile on even the most jaded gamer’s face. It also helps that the game looks absolutely gorgeous. Who needs next-gen?
Mario and co do have a new suit to add to their already impressive arsenal, in the form of the cat suit. A lot has already been said about it, as it’s really hard to miss with cat Mario adorning the box and, for some reason, being one of the things pushed by Nintendo. Despite its weird and a little disturbing aesthetic, it does add to the experience. Giving the player the ability to climb up walls for a short time and a couple of new attacks, the wall climbing being the most important element, as it will be needed a lot when it comes to finding the hidden items across each level. It is a little disturbing though as while wearing the suit Mario will be running around on all fours and making cat noises. The fact that somewhere there was a 58 year old man in a recording booth making cat sounds into a microphone is a little disconcerting.
Aside from creepy cat suits there is also the addition of a cherry power up that clones the character. The more cherry power ups collected, the more clones created. Much like the cat suit there are levels built well around this feature, and that’s really what sets Mario 3D World apart from other games. Everything has a purpose, it’s a master-class in design that few companies are able to create. While, much like Nintendo’s other recent offering A Link Between Worlds, 3D World has one foot firmly rooted in the past while still exploring new ideas and gameplay tricks. There is a definite nostalgia in each world, with levels inspired by other games in the series, while classic themes are played and enemies re-appear.
The features of the Wii U are utilised, albeit sparingly. Firstly, after each level you’re able to post messages to the Mii-verse, it can be anything from helpful advice to your general opinion on the level, or maybe a terrible joke which was seen all too often. There are even stamps that can be found in each level depicting characters in the Mario universe that can be used in each message. It’s a simple system that has its charm. On top of this there also a few areas where the touch screen comes into play. Just simple pressing the block to make It move situations that thankfully don’t get too complex, as anyone whose held a Wii-U gamepad will attest, multi-tasking can be a challenging thing, especially when pinpoint jumping precision will be required.
What starts off as almost a walk in the park soon becomes a surprising challenge, with the latter worlds costing many a life. The challenge mostly coming from collecting the three stars hidden across each level, most being in hard to reach places that require platforming finesse. And once the final boss is defeated, it’s certainly not over yet as a further challenge rears its head.
A mastery of games design, Super Mario 3D World shows that Nintendo are still on top of their game. Blending the old and the new into platforming gold, this is everything we could’ve wanted and more. The reason to own a Wii U has arrived.