If there is one thing the internet has taught Western society, it’s that Japan loves two things; Mario and cats. Super Mario 3D World uses this knowledge to provide one of the most solid entries the Mario franchise has ever seen. Doing what Nintendo does best, taking the most ridiculous ideas and transforming them into a norm.
Super Mario 3D World (SM3DW) can be seen as the spiritual successor to Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS. Many of the navigation and level dynamics draw inspiration, as the title would have you believe. This however isn’t SM3DW’s only inspiration. Contrary to what many may say, the Mario franchise continues to evolve not only from game to game but in turn within Mario’s very franchise. In SM3DW you’ll often find yourself looking back at previous titles and notice that Nintendo seem to be paying homage to previous installments, whether popular or not. Sure, in the past Mario has teamed up with Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad but one can’t help but feel and uncontrollable reference to Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES. The same applies to the various new and conventional items to be found in the beautifully designed 3D Mushroom Kingdom. The Super Bell provides Mario & Co with the trademark suit for SM3DW world and transforms any of the four characters into cat versions of themselves. This allows players to swipe at enemies and climb frantically along walls before tiring and slinging down the platform. The Double Cherry Power Up creates a mirror image of the player and is cleverly applied to unlock secret areas. This power up is especially fun in single player mode where you single-handedly have to navigate various characters simultaneously through some tough and nippy sections. In addition to these new power ups there are an abundance of additional unconventional items and fan-favourite power ups from previous games are there to keep you busy.
Tackling SM3DW with friends is what you’d probably expect. Pure unadulterated chaos. The co-op multiplayer will provide frustration, screaming, plenty of laughs and possibly a few black eyes. I mean this is what we’ve come to expect from Mario titles, haven’t we? Throughout some levels you’ll find that tackling the stage as a team works out far better and with some co-operation from your team mates you should cruise through the Goomba-infested playing fields. On the other hand, especially later on in the game, you’ll experience some seriously challenging sections which you should rather take to task as a single player experience… for the safety of others. You understand? Overall though the point remains. SM3DW is fun for all.
One of the especially clever uses of “3D” are non-mandatory Toad levels found throughout the various worlds. In these levels you navigate Toad through a maze-like level in order to collect stars. Essentially each star can be collected by sorting out some type of puzzle. The controls that are used are conventional, touch screen and the Wii U Gamepads gyro mechanics, so these puzzles can become pretty tough… and by tough I mean downright ridiculous at times. As mentioned earlier, these levels aren’t compulsory but they do provide you with a fun alternative to the regular gameplay. It could also provide you with much-needed stars that will help you progress later in the main story of the game. Those of you more familiar to other Nintendo titles might think of these levels as a “HD Mario & Donkey Kong with Toad as the main protagonist” title.
People often say that Nintendo doesn’t need to invest in better hardware as Mario can “only look that good” and that an HD offering is lost because of the conventional Mario art style. SM3DW proves these points null and void as the Mario realm has never looked better. Say what you want but Mario has moved from strength to strength and, while keeping many of the same ‘Nintendo formula’s’ we’ve come to expect, it manages to innovate and keep things fresh. This does not only apply to the visual aspect of the game but the soundtrack as well. It’s a perfect, harmonius blend of old and new. If you currently own a Wii U and for some bizarre reason have yet to pick up SM3DW go out and do so right meow!