When it comes to creating a successful franchise, Nintendo knows best. Despite the cries of repetition, lack of originality, and a childish attitude, that Nintendo naysayers level at the Japanese developer, it always manages to release a successful game. And, Super Mario 3D World is no different. Fans bemoaned how it wasn’t a Super Mario Galaxy sequel, and others were puzzled at how you could have a four-player 3D Mario game and still make it feel like it wasn’t just another way to play New Super Mario Bros. Well, Nintendo has proved them all wrong as this is one of the finest Mario outings around, and quite possibly the best title on Wii U.
Starting out with Mario and Luigi actually practicing their trade as plumbers, by fixing a faulty pipe they stumble across, the duo open up a doorway of chaos. At least, that’s how it seems when Bowser bursts through and captures a green fairy known as (insert name in edit). So, doing what the righteous duo always do, they jump in to save the day – with Toad and Peach coming along for the journey.
Yes, that’s right, you’re on a big 3D adventure where you aren’t off rescuing Peach or any other princess of sorts. Heck, the weight of saving the world isn’t solely left on Mario’s shoulders either. If anything, this entry is as bare bones as you’d imagine it to be when it comes to storytelling as the focus has all been put into the gameplay itself.
Following on from the somewhat isometric view given to the 3DS title Super Mario 3D Land, this entry has some restrictions on the camera work but brings in interactivity through use of the GamePad screen and microphone. You’ll still primarily be jumping through levels and stomping on heads, but now you can blow small goombas away or poke and prod platforms. Think of this as a meeting of minds between Super Mario 3D Land and New Super Mario Bros. U.
There’s more to it than that as well, as the joining the lineup of silly power suits for Mario and co. is the Catsuit. No, this isn’t our stout plumber in a lycra leotard – don’t even make me thibk of such a sight. Instead, it’s a bell that imbues the wearer with the power of a cat, allowing you to sctach foes or climb walls momentarily. It’s certainly a fun addition that initially seems very silly, just like the bumblebee suit from Super Mario Galaxy, but it quickly proves itself invaluable once obtained.
It’s more amusing when you have an army of cats roaming the level thanks to the power of a cherry pickup, which creates a clone of your character to help you through a level. Multiply this by four players, and you could end up with utter chaos on your hands.
And it’s this that Super Mario 3D World does best, create utter chaos. Fot all of it’s well designed levels, glorious puzzles and crazy ways to attain level stars, the real highlight is playing it with others.
Very quickly levels turn into moments of competition. Ultimately you want to help the score rise and get all the stars, which means fighting off your cohorts and sniping points from them in the last second. Be this through stealing a star they’ve worked hard to unlock or pushing them out of the way so you can land at the top of the finishing post – bagging a cool 10,000 points in the process. This is all signified by a post-level summary of points, showing who really contributed the most. It even awards the winner with a crown they have to keep hold of to bag an extra 5,000 points in the next level. It’s just genius.
There are other touches too, such as the predictable world progression is broken up by amusing ways to attain stars. One level places you in control of a mining Toad. Unable to jump, you must rotate the level to see the best route for Toad to take to grab all the stars. It’s simple, but incredible fun. Other stages see you completing hectic, Mario Party-esque levels with short countdown timers for the glory of stars. Once again, these levels masquerade as cooperative, but only breed competition.
The Wii U has really been in need of a stellar title. Sure there was the rather excellent The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, but that isn’t original. Here we have a Mario game that feels familiar but is really unlike any other entry into that little plumber’s series. Do yourself a favour this year, go pick up a Wii U and a copy Super Mario 3D World. You won’t be disappointed.
Audio/Visual – 5/5: Easily one of the best looking Wii U games around, also has a rather brilliant soundtrack to boot.
Gameplay – 5/5: Incredible fun, especially with friends. Feels fresh, if not familiar.
Innovation – 4/5: Riffs on old ideas from other entries, but combines them in a way that doesn’t feel trite.
Value – 5/5: Plenty of reason to keep coming back for more, and if you bring friends along, the fun won’t ever tire.