when super mario 3D world for wii u was first announced i, like many others, wasn’t particularly excited by it based on the trailer, which aside from the new cat power-up, multiplayer, and character selection (in the form of the return of the quartet from NES’s super mario bros. 2 with the same unique abilities), looked way too much like 3DS’s mario 3D land, a game i had enjoyed but which hadn’t made much of an impression. even after trying the game at the best buy E3 event i was skeptical that this game would be the system-seller that nintendo needs to revive interest in wii u, a console that by all metrics has been off to a slow start.
oddly enough, however, the trailer released months later, in october, just a couple of months before the game’s release, was the one that really got me (and others) hyped for the game. the trailer revealed more all-new power-ups that turned out to be real highlights of the game, and although subsequent trailers went too far in the opposite direction, revealing even more of the game’s secrets, i managed to avoid watching too much more, although the game’s 5th secret character wasn’t much of a secret to anyone by the time it was released.
the game came out to universal acclaim, and the game feels like a culmination of many different areas nintendo has been working on with the mario series. the multi-player is more successful than new super mario bros. wii and new super mario bros. u since players have more room to roam around and not get in each other’s way, and having character-specific abilities again makes the gameplay feel refreshing and makes revisiting stages to track down green stars much less of a chore. peach’s hovering ability makes the game much easier for newbies to get into, and the multi-player is so successful overall that my partner has actually said this is his favorite mario game to date, which has been clearly evidenced by the amount of time he’s spent playing it with me.
like 3d land levels are linear, but they feel more substantial here with more galaxy-like levels of variety. there’s still plenty of exploration with incentive to do so, in the form of the aforementioned green stars plus miiverse stamps. although there’s a wide range of power-ups, the cat power-up is thoroughly explored without overstaying its welcome, and unlike many of the more-recent games in the series i didn’t feel bothered that some of them are only confined to a few levels since those were clearly designed to be more novelties than integrated to the scale of the cat suit. i did find myself missing the glasses-free 3-D of 3d land, though, since that would have helped with some of the hard-to-judge jumps, and i don’t think i’m the only one. the game also evolves 3d land‘s mystery boxes, which were single rooms full of enemies, into more-interesting challenges, including various enemy-defeating marathons.
as for all-new elements, the adventures of captain toad stages are a nice diversion, and i’m not the only one who would grab an eshop-only release of new stages if it were ever created. the plessie (i.e. boat) stages were fairly boring to me and same-y, however, and boss battles tended to be a low point for me (with the sole exception of the battles against pom pom which were entertaining).
i haven’t written about miiverse on this blog yet, but when i first i heard about it i wasn’t that excited about it. but after experiencing how it was integrated with launch titles like NSMB U and nintendo land i understood how brilliant it is. having a chorus of comments from others who have experienced what you’re experiencing pop up within the game has been a fantastic way of feeling that even when you’re playing alone you’re still part of a huge community of nintendo fans, so much so that turning it off makes you aware of the huge wall of silence that results. the miiverse integration in mario 3d world is even better than NSMB U since you can collect stamps, which are more fun to get than the green stars, although it does crowd miiverse with a lot of useless posts. also, i feel like nintendo should do a better job of refining what posts get shown to you. clearly stamps related to the final battle are going to be spoilers (and anyone who’s played the game with the miiverse features enabled must have known what the final battle was going to be based on others’ posts about it) and should be automatically marked as such.
re: the extra character, i think it’s fantastic that a new character (with new unique abilities!) has been added to the series, although i’m still a bit disappointed that that character has been getting so much attention lately and not daisy who has been around a lot longer. the remixed stages featured in two of the post-game bonus worlds are more worthwhile than the challenges that stuffed the post-game of 3d land, although too many of them are just switched to a nighttime setting which was more annoying than fun. i also feel like it’s a missed opportunity to continue to make games that are supposedly set in other locales (in this case the “sprixie” kingdom) but use all the same elements from the main series, usually set in the mushroom kingdom. much as i love the mushroom kingdom, i’m still waiting for the day the series makes a return to super mario land‘s sarasaland or super mario 2‘s subcon.
all in all this was an enjoyable experience, and although it easily surpasses its closest relative, mario 3d land, and the majority of the more-recent mario titles, overall i would have to put it behind mario galaxy. the game is a worthy successor to that game, but much as i appreciate the refinement of the multi-player, as a primarily single-player person galaxy gets the edge for pioneering the mostly-linear-but-with-exploration level structure and the variety of the levels and new elements introduced to the series. if i were anyone else but me the game would have earned a place on my list of all-time greats and the game is certainly impressive on all fronts, but much as i enjoyed it, it just didn’t give me enough “tingly” moments to join the pantheon. it’s been 6 years since galaxy was released, but it looks like i’ll have to wait a bit longer for a mario game that truly astounds me.
cat-tastic super mario 3D world links:
– the official site has some wallpapers and cute “i can has cheezburger”-like character images (the one for peach is particularly cute), along with a set of cat mario ears you can print out and wear
– thorough entry at mariowiki.com, including details on new enemies. for requirements for a 5-star file, see the entry at mario.wikia.com.
– nintendo minute posted a video highlighting two of their favorite levels from the game
– iwata asks feature
– playing the game i was reminded that no one really knows what the ‘P’ in P-switches stands for. looks like people’s best guess is still that it stands for “power”.
– entry at howlongtobeat.com