Review by paleselan

"As Super As Always"

What happens when a 3D and 2D Mario game make love in the back of your 3DS? You get to play Super Mario 3D Land. Mario is still moving towards a goal on a 2D plane, but there is depth added, so you can go in and out, in addition to left and right. This mechanic, bundled in with 3D viewing experience, makes this game unlike any others, but is the change for the better?

If you live under a rock and aren't familiar with Mario, he's an Italian plumber out to save his princess. She's been abducted hundreds of times in the last 25 years and Bowser has not plans on stopping. You see, Bowser is a giant dinosaur who's obsessed with Princess Peach. When Mario comes to save Peach she's in chains and tied to a pole. I don't know about you, but this seems like a rape scene to me. The only good thing about 3D Land's story is now we know where Bowser Jr. came from.

But, don't worry yourself about the story; the gameplay is what really matters. The new 2D slapped on 3D view works well and introduces new gameplay mechanics not yet seen in a Mario game. Now, when a bullet bill is sent out to hit Mario, a player can do more than just jump over it, he can move in or out of the screen to avoid it. It's hard to understand in writing, but 3D Land isn't a full out 3D game like Galaxy or Sunshine, it's still more of a 2D game, it just has depth now.

There are suits both new and old in 3D Land, but there aren't very many. Fire Mario is in the game, as always and there is a new boomerang suit that allows Mario to throw boomerangs. The real highlight of the game is the re-introduced tanooki suit. Originally is Super Mario 3, this suit allows Mario to use his tail to take out enemies, and flap his wings when jumping to add air time. I loved using the tanooki suit and it was available for most of the game. The problem is that there aren't enough suits. This game only has three, two of which are barely used. Come on Nintendo, I want a larger variety.

Many elements from the 2D games are in 3D Land as well. A time limit is now placed in the levels. Although it is not straining or hard to keep up with, the time limit will not allow a player to explore like in Galaxy. The levels are shorter than in 3D Mario game as well. Each level takes about five to seven minutes to beat, which is about the middle between a 3D and 2D Mario game. This length allows 3D Land to be a portable experience, where it will be possible to beat levels on the bus and subway without having to stop in the middle. Another 2D aspect that the game includes is a flagpole at the end of the level, as opposed to a star in the 3D Mario games.

The game displays 3D brilliantly. The depth is probably the best I've seen on a 3DS screen and it helps judge distances when jumping. My only complaint is that it isn't essential to the gameplay. For a game that has 3D in its name I would expect the 3D to be required, but it's not. 3D is nice, of course, but the game will play in 2D just as well. The music isn't spectacular either. Yes, it's about as good as New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii and DS, but I was looking forward to music rivaling Galaxy. I'm sad to say that I was disappointed.

There are SpotPass, or multiplayer, options in the game. If you pass someone else that has played 3D Land, then the completion times of levels will be exchanged. Whenever you scroll over a level it will display the best time of everyone you have SpotPassed with, which provides incentive to come back and do better. That is only a small part of the replayability, though. There are three Comet Coins in each level to collect. Multiply that by 40 main levels and 40 bonus levels and that makes 240 comet coins to collect. It is also possible to hit the top of the flagpole at the end of each level, so players may want to come back and do that. Furthermore, if the player plays as both Luigi and Mario through all 80 levels, collects all the Comet Coins, and reaches the top of the flagpole on every level, then a secret level will be unlocked. Since levels usually don't get boring when you replay them, this provides plenty of incentive to come back.

Overall, Super Mario 3D Land is a great game. It mixes 3D and 2D together really well. Although I would have preferred an experience more like Galaxy, 3D Land succeeds in what it tries to accomplish. The music, suits, story, and 3D integration may not meet my expectations, but the gameplay does, which is the most important thing. Every 3DS owner owes it to himself to buy Super Mario 3D Land.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/06/12

Game Release: Super Mario 3D Land (US, 11/13/11)

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