Super Mario 3D World serves up a delightful platformer treat, with gorgeous visuals, ingenious level design and charming new items and modes which brings a wonderful depth to the game not seen since the Galaxy series.
The beauty of Nintendo’s beloved franchise is the warmth and nostalgia it brings to those who have grown from childhood to adulthood with the red-capped plumber, but it’s also a series that appeals to the younger generation – and that’s exactly why local multiplayer is so significant in Super Mario 3D World.
For the first time, you can choose to play with your friends and family in multiplayer mode, where the fastest player to reach the goal gets the top tier of points, or you can work as a team in order to catch those elusive green stars Bowser’s minions keep under lock and key. But there’s no demand to play in a team, single-player mode delivers just as much fun throughout the game with intriguing puzzles and Mystery House dashes to capture additional green stars. Multiplayer mode is, in fact, just another level of fun – an extra tier or layer on an exquisite cake, if you will. And though online multiplayer is missing, it doesn’t detract from the game’s appeal, just its longevity.
For any 3D Mario game, the key to its success resides in the level design – and Super Mario 3D World’s is divine. From an imaginative shadow level such as Shadow-Play Alley, which requires you to think outside the box, to ghostly levels full of pesky Boos and a Zelda-themed dungeon named Switchblack Ruins, where lighting torches with the fire flower power-up is the key to progressing, there are so many areas to discover.
Side-scrolling and timed levels offer up some heart-pumping action, where precision with jumps is absolutely vital, and scales up the difficulty for avid players. But unlike the Galaxy series, progressing through the story only requires you to complete levels, rather than collecting stars. In fact, green stars are only crucial when unlocking additional levels or the final boss level, serving as an achievement for those who wish to capture them all. You can also collect stamps in each level and use them on Miiverse to discuss interesting scenarios in the community.
Yet, the most ingenious and cleverly designed levels are actually those that don’t involve the core cast. Captain Toad’s adventures are a breath of fresh air for the franchise, giving players an extra challenge by collecting green stars without jumping. Turning the camera’s position will allow you to see the level from every angle, and finding the solution is – more often than not – harder than it first seems.
Mystery Houses also serve as a welcome accompaniment to the main game, where using Toad’s agility, or Luigi’s big leaps of faith will often score you five or ten green stars to add to your total. Frantically scrambling up walls using the cat power-up, kicking golf balls into POW blocks, and boldly rushing where no character has dared before in ten seconds flat gives the game such a wild adrenaline rush, and will surely have you climbing the walls in hilarious frustration.
Super Mario 3D World also houses some wonderful additions with its power-ups. Besides being aesthetically gorgeous to look at in yellow, green, pink and blue, the cat suit is also one of the most used items in the game. Swiping those sharp paws at enemies and clutching onto walls to reach hidden coins or stamps brings another dimension to the game, offering new ways of exploring to outwit friends for the best score. And in true cat style, you can even laze around in levels by not moving a muscle – your character will simply sit, tail swishing, cleaning its paws. Other power-ups include an ice boot, item boxes, which feature a torch or grant you the power of flight, and cherries which add a doppelgänger – or three – to your control, all elevate the game to new heights.
Not only is the Wii U game chock-full of hidden references to previous Mario games and Nintendo franchises, but it’s full of vibrant new modes, cleverly designed levels and superb music, which will have you itching to pick up the GamePad again and again. Super Mario 3D World is, quite simply, a joy to play.