+Tons of Power-Ups,
+Loaded With Content,
-Camera is Sometimes Cumbersome in Multiplayer,
-Not As Game-Changing As Previous Mario Games,
Hear ye, hear ye, Nintendo faithful! It’s no secret that Nintendo’s fledgling system has had some trouble in its first year on the market, but that didn’t stop Nintendo from releasing what is easily the best game on the WiiU and arguably one of the best games of the year. Super Mario 3D World is good. It’s very good. In fact, it’s probably the best Super Mario Game since Galaxy in 2007, and while it may not be as revolutionary as that title, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Nintendo knows how to make games. When it comes to their flagship titles like Mario and Zelda, the amount of polish added to the game is staggering. I felt the inner kid in me jump for joy when I played New Super Mario Bros U and got a taste of what an HD Mario looked like, but nothing could have prepared me for how gorgeous this game is. Lava pits bubble and burst off the sides of stages, their glow bouncing off of enemies, smoke trails billow out from behind Mario and his friends as they hit top speed. Clear pipes shoot characters across platforms at breakneck speeds. The sun sets over a wide green plain, shadows dancing playfully – This is a pretty game.
It’s as if Nintendo cherry picked moments from every great Mario game (which is pretty much all of them, right?) and threw them into this game. Eagle eyed gamers will draw comparison to the over world from Super Mario World or tunes from Mario 64. The character selection even references Super Mario Bros 2, with Toad, Luigi and Princess Peach joining the fray, each with their own special abilities: Peach floats in the air, Luigi jumps higher and Toad runs faster while Mario stands in as the all-around character. New power-ups like the cannon block, which makes the player a walking turret, and cat bell, which turns Mario and friends into an adorable feline warrior, are very welcome additions. The usual suspects –Fire Flower and Tanooki Suit – also return
3D world exists in the same vein as 3D land, the very excellent 3DS Mario game from a couple years back. The problem I had with 3D land was that I felt like levels were sort of disconnected. Everything seemed like it was just floating platforms. 3D World alleviates that minor gripe by giving us an over world that we can roam freely, littered with secrets and toad houses and bonus challenges. Collectible stamps are hidden in each level, as well as 3 green stars that need collecting in order to unlock certain stages.
The game also features four player local cooperative play and while it’s not something new, I think this game does it the best. The camera can get a little hectic, and there were plenty of accidental deaths in my playthrough, when one person decides to take the lead and leave the other players in the dust (and off camera.) When playing with a group of fairly skilled Mario players actually working together, this becomes less of an issue. There are rankings at the end of each level, and the winning character will don a crown for the next level. It’s purely cosmetic, but it paints a bulls eye on the leaders back and sparks (mostly) friendly competition.
The game is wonderfully designed, absolutely adorable and extremely playable. The only problem is that, well, it doesn’t really showcase the WiiU gamepad. I realize that’s not super important – I’d rather not have tacked on motion control or something like that – but it doesn’t showcase what the WiiU can really do. As fun as it is, it could’ve existed on any Nintendo console in the last ten years. It’s not revolutionary or as game-changing as Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64 or Galaxy on the Wii which is, in my opinion, something that the WiiU desperately needs.
But I digress: it’s a wonderful game, packed full of content, features excellent multiplayer, and is an incredibly joyful experience. I haven’t had this much fun playing anything in years. If you own a WiiU – it’s a must buy, and if you’ve been on the fence, now’s the time to jump in.