Review by pikachupwnage
"Nostalgia and tanooki madness IN 3D!"
(Please note there will be two types of 3D talked about in this review. Stereoscopic 3D, which is the 3D without glasses tech the 3DS uses and 3D as in three-dimensional space)
The story is simple and charming. One day there's a huge storm that blows all the leaves off of the super leaf tree and many of them have been used to power up Bowsers minions. Mario and 3 toads go to investigate and discover a letter. Peach has been kidnapped (again) and once again Mario must save her.
The game has great graphics with good lighting and runs at a solid 30 FPS (frames per second). The audio is superb and many old tunes are brought back and remixed. These remixes are fantastic and add to the games nostalgia. Also included in the soundtrack are a few tunes from super Mario galaxy and some new tunes as well. The right music is always put in the right level. For example ghost levels have creepy music and a level based on musical instruments has jazzy music.
Now generally with 3DS games (especially third party games) the 3D is cool but adds little to the experience. However with this game its different. This game proves 3D can truly make a game better. The 3D not only makes it easier to judge distances for jumps but also is used in many creative and unique ways. For example there's an enemy that shoots goop that obscures the screen and if you have the 3D on it looks like the goop is actually on the screen. There are many obstacles and enemies that do things that are amazing in 3D. Even without the 3D though the game is very fun.
Sometimes you will encounter rooms where the perspective switches to an isometric view (think Super Mario RPG for the SNES) and will use that viewpoint to trick you. A block may look like its right next to another but its actually floating a little ways off. If you have the 3D on you will be able to see that. Now if you don't want to use the 3D there will be a switch in the room that changes the perspective while you stand on it. Once again the game proves that 3D enhances the experience though is still very good even without the 3D.
Speaking of perspective this game likes to play around with it. Besides the aforementioned isometric viewpoint some levels (or parts of levels) adopt a top down viewpoint (think of early Zelda games) the 3D once again shines in these levels. For example there could be a fire geyser and with the 3D on it seems to shoot up out of the screen. These top down levels are a good change of pace though most the game takes place in the usual 3D viewpoint.
The camera is fixed and only adjusts when the game requires it and you have no control over it. However the games camera does not need to be controlled as it does a great job of controlling itself. I have only died once from the camera being in a bad position.
3D land often draws on older games for inspiration. Many ideas come from super Mario bros 3 and super Mario bros, though there's a bit of super Mario 64 in there as well. The game also gives of a bit of a galaxy vibe but that's just a result of being developed by the same team as the galaxy games were. The ideas from the old 2D games are expertly updated and refined for use in a 3D game and mixed in with plenty of new ideas.
For example Note blocks return and rainbow colored ones will send you up to a coin heaven. Time limits also reappear but not once have I died because time ran out and I tend to explore levels thoroughly.
The level design is superb though feels slightly lacking compared to Super Mario galaxy 2 though and only because that game had some of the greatest level designs of all time. Many levels are highly linear though going off the beaten track often leads to hidden areas that generally contain a 1up or a star coin (every level contains 3 star coins star coins are used to unlock certain levels) though occasionally you will find levels that are similar to super Mario 64 with lots of exploring and secrets.
Like always you will find traditional types of levels such as grasslands, caves, fire areas etc. but like the galaxy games this game has many levels that are extremely creative and deviate from tradition. You will find levels that change in coordination with a beat, levels that have you log rolling on metal platforms over lava, exploring a level made out of giant 8 bit models of Mario characters and tightrope walking over bottomless pits while giant swinging spike balls try to knock you off and much more. There is even a level made entirely out of mattresses!
Also a neat inclusion is sometimes you find a pair of binoculars. You use the gyroscope to look around with them and find secrets and its pretty cool. The gyroscope is also used for aiming cannons.
One thing many older Mario fans will be pleased to know is for the first time the flagpole appears in a 3D Mario game and is at the end of every level. You still get a 1up for landing on the very top and its fun trying to do so on every level.
And of course no Mario game would be a Mario game without enemies, power ups, and bosses and this game has plenty of those. Bosses are fun though seem slightly lackluster compared to galaxy 2's creative bosses though this game still has good bosses though not quite enough variety. Personally I love the bosses though they may disappoint some. However the final boss is extremely well done.
The power ups have great variety and there are a lot of them. First and foremost is the tanooki suit originally featured in super Mario bros 3 and finally makes its return. The tanooki suit is the games most common power up and allows you to tail whip enemies to defeat them and fall slower after jumping. The fire flower, which is the second most common power up, makes its first non timed appearance in a 3D game, which is much appreciated. The mushroom and starman also appear.
There are also 2 new power ups. First up is the propeller block. This uncommon power up is found in only certain levels and cannot be taken out of the level it is obtained in. The propeller block is a very fun power up though and a great edition to ranks of Mario's abilities.
The second is the boomerang suit. This semi common power up allows Mario to throw boomerangs. At first it seems useless compared to the fire flower but then you realize how useful it really is. It can pick up coins 1ups and even star coins from a distance making it very useful and if you jump before you catch it will go behind you. So you could take out enemies behind and in front of you with ease using your boomerang. Find creative ways to use the boomerang and it will be an invaluable power up.
Even after you beat the final boss there's a lot let to do, as there is a massive amount of post game content. If earlier levels where to easy for veterans they will be pleased to know that the post game is quite difficult and should present a satisfying challenge.
In each world you will find a mystery box. You goal in these mystery boxes is to defeat all enemies within a short time limit and then collect all the goodies that appear. If you streepass with someone you get new mystery boxes! This adds a bit more replay value to the game and is a good use of streetpass.
So much is packed in one little cart and it is more then worth the 40$ price tag.
The round up
3D effect 10/10
Replay value 9/10
Proves 3D is not just a gimmick and that it can truly enhance gameplay
Expertly blends 2D and 3D style Mario together
Return of the flagpole and tanooki suit
Massive amounts of nostalgia
First half is easy so anyone can play but the post game content is difficult so both casuals and veterans will be satisfied
Lots of post-game content
Makes good use of many 3DS features such as streetpass
Fun creative levels
May come of as a tad uninspired compared to super Mario galaxy and super Mario galaxy 2
Bosses may disappoint some (though the final boss battle defiantly won't disappoint)
Many of the post game levels are more difficult and highly altered versions of older levels. Usually they change enough and do a great job with it but a few of them fall flat on their face.
Super Mario 3D land is an amazing game. Not only is it full of nostalgia, but it also proves that 3D can truly enhance a game and uses it in many creative ways. It also acts as a fantastic pick up and play game, which is perfect for a handheld game. Super Mario 3D land is a worthy edition to the Mario series and is a must own game for any 3DS owner as no 3DS collection is complete without this fantastic game.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/14/11, Updated 03/26/12
Game Release: Super Mario 3D Land (JP, 11/03/11)
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