Review by ChronoCactaur
The move to handheld did not diminish the quality of Super Mario
Super Mario 3D Land is the first true Mario game for the 3DS system. As such, one may expect it to bring new ideas and concepts to the table. What you may neglect to notice is the back of the box which states: "Classic Mario with a modern twist!". I found that to be one of the most honest statements one could read on the back of a game box, because Super Mario 3D Land is not only the definitive handheld Mario experience, but also a perfect blend of classic and modern systematics and sensibilities.
Upon starting up you'll be asked if you'd like to turn on streetpass, which enables you to trade Mystery Boxes with other SM3DL players. Speaking of Mystery Boxes, they are extra mini-levels that last 10 seconds wherein you can grab more Star Medals at your own disgression for use in the game's post-game content, which I won't be spoiling. Once you begin the first level you'll immediately notice Mario is slower than he was in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Try holding down the Y or X button and you'll find that SM3DL took a page out of classic Mario by implementing the run button into 3D gameplay, which may take some getting used to even for skilled players. In addition to classic moves such as the run button, newer moves such as the long jump and side flip are also present, but harder to pull off due to the button layout of the 3DS. This is not a huge detriment, as those advanced techniques are rarely required to move on and are best used to simplify the process as opposed to being a substitute.
Power-Ups went the minimalist route in SM3DL; Mario always starts out as Super Mario but can be reduced to Small Mario with just one hit. Mario can also become Tanooki Mario, Boomerang Mario, and Fire Mario. In addition to these Power-Ups, Mario can find blocks that serve as helpful gadgets. One such gadget is the Propellor Block, which takes a page out of New Super Mario Bros. Wii's Propellor Suit, and functions much in the same way, as well as a Coin Block that Mario wears on his head that accumilates coins while walking.
In terms of bosses one may find it disappointing that only 3 world feature a castle with a Bowser boss. As one may have caught on, Super Mario 3D Land tries to emulate Super Mario Bros. 3 in many ways, and as such has an abundance of Airship levels. Within the Airship levels are two types of boss: The Boom-Boom, and the Pun-Pun. Boom-Boom merely spins around the room and pauses after a few seconds, making him the easier boss. Pun-Pun is much more cumbersome as she tosses multiple boomerangs at Mario, and has a stronger counter attack than Boom-Boom. The most difficult Airship boss is in World 7, but I shant spoil it. Both Pun-Pun and Boom-Boom are encountered at least twice each in the main game, while Bowser is encountered thrice. Personally I think Pun-Pun could have been in a tower as opposed to an Airship or Castle to add more variety to the final levels, but I digress.
Super Mario 3D Land is a smashing success and the first real 3DS experience. If you were burned out by the low quality of 3DS releases this year, your wait is finally over. Wahoo! Itsa me, Mario!
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Super Mario 3D Land (US, 11/13/11)
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