Move over 2020 as 2021 brings back feline fun in the enhanced Super Mario 3D World port for the Nintendo Switch. Since its original release on the Wii U back in 2013, Super Mario 3D World has certainly made a name for itself in Nintendo history. Following the introduction of Cat Mario and co., we’ve seen countless fan-made memes, an educational puppet theatre show for children and several in-game inclusions; either as 8-bit sprites in Super Mario Odyssey, playable characters in Super Mario Maker 2, or as costumes in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Mario Kart Tour. They’ve come a long way since developer testing, where all characters were on all fours without their beautiful fur costumes!
All jokes aside, Super Mario 3D World was the second best-selling Wii U game for Nintendo, totalling 5.86 million sales and accounting for nearly half of the Wii U’s 13.56 million base. So, with the arrival of the enhanced port and the standalone campaign Bowser’s Fury, can it mirror or possibly best those sales on Switch? With a 70m+ install base, it could be a shoe-in. Let’s take a look why that could be the case as we go hands-on with Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.
If you’ve played the original, you’ll remember that online multiplayer was sadly omitted from the game. According to the game’s director Koichi Hayashida in an interview with TIME Magazine, local multiplayer was favoured as a way to play side-by-side with your spouses or children. For Nintendo, it was all about family-time inclusion, which could be enjoyed by people of any age and ability. While the Switch port still features local multiplayer for up to four players, it now features online multiplayer – an absolute must for Switch fans, given the ongoing pandemic.
Thankfully, online multiplayer is just as (if not more!) chaotic as local. Communication and teamwork are crucial in many levels, including Switchboard Falls in World 3 and Beep Block Skyway in World 4, where double cherries deliver both hilarity and absolute pandemonium. Even Plessie’s Plunging Falls in World 1, where everyone must work together to retrieve the green stars and safely traverse the river rapids, will require players to communicate clearly – via a voice chat application – and decide on which course to take. Although it is a feature that arguably should have been in the base game, we are delighted that it can now be utilised to its full potential on the Switch.
There are other changes afoot in the enhanced port too. Super Mario 3D World delivers faster characters with increased running speed, the ability to climb higher as a cat with the Super Bell power-up, and a snapshot mode (directly borrowed from Super Mario Odyssey). And while Miiverse may be gone, stamps return in a beautifully coloured design and can be put to good use in snapshot mode as an extra bonus. It’s also worth noting that the visuals are sharpened, with finer details to textures, as was the case for Super Mario Galaxy in 3D All-Stars. Handheld plays well too with gyro controls and touchscreen effects returning for the port.
Yet when it comes to Bowser’s Fury, players will notice clever differences between the main and spin-off campaigns. Inspired by Super Mario Odyssey, Bowser’s Fury is an open-world adventure with zero loading screens. Perturbed by his father’s relentless fury, Bowser Jr. is adamant that he’ll be able to get his dad back under control if they gather enough Cat Shines (similar to Power Moons) around Lake Lapcat. So, after teaming up with Bowser Jr., Mario heads off towards Scamper Shores, a delightful cat paradise by the beach, to begin retrieving the five Cat Shines required to transform into Giga Cat Mario and ward off Bowser.
Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds. To gather the first five Cat Shines, players will need to solve classic platformer puzzles while avoiding Bowser’s beastly tantrums. You’ll get roughly six minutes of warm sunshine before all hell breaks loose. As the wind picks up and the rain falls, the thunderous roars of Bowser’s fury is felt across Lake Lapcat. With almost nowhere to hide, players will be required to survive Bowser’s fiery breath, the pools of lava and falling rocks for around a minute before he retreats into the shadows once again. During that time, you can use Bowser’s fiery breath to your advantage, getting him to break certain Bowser blocks to retrieve Cat Shines, or by jumping up the temporary rocks to reach previously inaccessible areas. It’s a fun, albeit repetitive, cycle that delivers an intriguing concept.
Although primarily a single-player campaign, Bowser’s Fury allows for couch co-op with the inclusion of Bowser Jr. It’s more of an assist mode than anything, but Bowser Jr does have the ability to attack enemies – as well as being impervious to their attacks – and can use his paintbrush to design funky graffiti that magically transforms into power-ups. He can also fly really far, even across the tainted dark ink, if you so wish. In single-player mode, you can adjust how much or how little Bowser Jr. assists you throughout the game too. We hope Bowser Jr. will come into his own further into the campaign.
Bowser’s Fury seems promising as far as first impressions go, and we’ll discuss much more of its content in our upcoming review. It’s a fun addition to the main campaign for sure, but we’re not convinced it will steal the spotlight from Super Mario 3D World anytime soon. For now, we’ll take a leaf out of Cat Mario’s book and curl up on the sofa to play a little more.
A copy of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury for preview purposes was provided by Nintendo UK. A full review of the game will be published in due course.