It’s me, Mario, IN THE 3RD DIMENSION!
Written by Super User
Published Thursday, 17 November 2011 19:00
Let’s face it. The 3DS has been waiting for a premiere exclusive title since its launch earlier this year. Nothing injects life into a Nintendo console like the company’s mascot, Mario. You put those two ideas together in the same equation, and you not only end up getting a true reason to own a Nintendo 3DS, but you also get a fresh new take on one of gaming’s most storied franchises. Super Mario 3D Land infuses modern day technology with concepts and ideas more than two decades old to great effect. It’s just the game Nintendo stalwarts and 3DS owners alike have been waiting for, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Super Mario 3D Land plays a bit like a hybrid of the classic 8-bit formula mixed with a little Super Mario 64. Every single one of the game’s worlds ends with you making a leap onto a flagpole, but the obstacles you’ll have to overcome are as varied as they’ve ever been. The game also hearkens back to the classic control style many of you might remember from the Super Nintendo era, and it doesn’t take very long to get a grasp on how to play. The ease with which SM3D is able to get you back into the swing of things allows you to focus all your energy on the worlds and levels in front of you. Though they are extremely linear (unlike recent three-dimensional entries Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2), they are anything but boring.
It might be obvious to state that this game was built for 3D, but many of the others trying to lay claim to that moniker have failed miserably. The moment you first step foot into world 1-1, any doubts you ever had about the handheld are immediately assuaged. Despite each level being a rather brief affair (most last only a few minutes), they are extremely focused, and no single pixel is wasted. Every element of the level exists for a purpose, and whether or not that purpose is to provide depth or challenge, the aesthetic is amazingly easy on the eyes, and leads the player’s eye and brain in the direction of the goal.
It could be said that the early levels are a bit too easy, but you won’t mind that much at all because of how well designed they are. Despite the quickness of the stages, which makes sense for a mobile platform like the 3DS, there is quite a bit of content in the game, including a whole second - and more challenging - universe to play through once you complete the regular game. Also, even though there’s no multiplayer proper, the game does compare your completion times to other users on the same handheld. I frequently am finding my times beaten by my significant other, and find plenty of replay value in going back to try and top her time over and over again. It would have been nice to include back and forth multiplayer like the older console versions, but playing alone doesn’t detract from the overall experience one bit.
"It’s easily the best 3D title that’s graced the 3DS to date, and shows that there is so much potential in the handheld."
Even though you can play with the 3D turned off, which I often do for 3DS games after less than an hour of play, Mario 3D land thrives with the setting turned on. Having a fixed camera determine where you’re allowed to look not only makes the 3D in the game easy on the eyes, but it also allows Nintendo to really dictate the way a level’s design is influenced by the 3D. Most areas move left to right, but there are occasions where the camera will follow behind Mario as he moves further into the background. This is especially true when trying to find each level’s three hidden coins, which often take a little bit of exploration on different axises to find. The way in which Nintendo is able to create a vastly different experience than we’re used to just by moving the camera position says a lot about how well they know their own console, and just how much other developers have to learn.
In addition to providing new ways to complete a level, the various suits and power-ups in the game present unique visual opportunities. If you’ve played a Mario game before, you know the combat formula. Jump on an enemy’s head, or hit them with a fireball, and they die. The boomerang and Tanooki suits operate in the same fashion, allowing you take down foes with the curved projectile, or by whipping your tail. The Tanooki suit, a fan favorite for reasons beyond my comprehension, also gives you the ability to float in the air for a bit, which makes hunting down those hidden coins a bit easier. There’s also a special Tanooki suit awarded to people struggling to complete a given level. In addition to the regular abilities the suit endows upon the wearer, you’ll also be invincible. The option to wear it is completely up to you, and while more hardcore players will scoff at the game’s willingness to help less savvy players, it’s an interesting idea that allows people to still get some satisfaction out of completing the game’s more challenging levels. As someone who dies a lot of stupid deaths in platformers, the Super Tanooki suit is awful tempting to wear just for the satisfaction of blasting through a level with no consequence. That said, it was awful hard for me to ditch the boomerang suit because I never got tired of throwing the boomerang at the screen, and watching it fly towards me. What can I say? I like simple pleasures.
There’s a lot to like about Super Mario 3D Land. It’s easily the best 3D title that’s graced the 3DS to date, and shows that there is so much potential in the handheld. The visuals literally pop off the screen, and even when not in 3D mode, it looks amazing. Despite blowing through the first eight worlds in just a few hours, I’m still playing today. Hunting down all the coins and trying to top other people’s completion times gives it a little bit more length, and the quickness at which you can jump in and out of playing makes Super Mario 3D Land one of the most accessible Mario titles to date. If Super Mario 3D Land is merely and indication of what Nintendo has in store for 3DS owners, I look forward to the future, and hopefully, a sequel to this game very soon.
Release date : 2011-11-13
Publisher : Nintendo
Developer : Nintendo
Gameplay : Platformer
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