Review by Luke_the_Duke15
"Great game, yet something about it feels off."
Super Mario 3D Land is the first Mario game on the 3DS, and it is also the most interesting handheld Mario I have ever played. It plays like a mix between New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Galaxy, with some Super Mario Bros. 3 in there. It's a great game, but playing it, something about it feels strange. Maybe it's the short levels, I really don't know. It's a fun game though, and that's what matters.
Story: I'm going to refrain from rating this since Mario games are almost never about the story. Basically, it's another save the princess story. Bowser has Tanooki Leaves from some tree that grows them. That's about the only deviation, nothing fancy. Nothing fancy is needed because, again, Mario games are almost never about the story.
Gameplay 8/10: Playing the game is fun. It plays like 2D side-scrollers in a 3D world. You run through worlds, jump on enemies, collect power-ups, and reach the flag, all in a time limit. At the end of the worlds there's an Air Ship or a Castle, usually with a boss. Power-ups include the standard Super Mushroom, the Fire Flower, the Boomerang Flower, and the return of the Tanooki Leaf. There are a few things that are different from the other Mario games, however. For one, as you're going through the worlds, you'll see clocks, and collecting these will add time to your limit. Sometimes you'll need it, sometimes you won't, it doesn't really greatly affect the game until the later worlds. Also, returning from the New Super Mario Bros. titles are Star Coins in the levels. There are three in each level, and collecting them will allow you to open up later levels. It's something nice added to the game to lengthen its life. A small challenge (not even really a challenge) is to grab the top of the flag pole when you land on it. You get a gold flag, and it's just something extra to strive for. There are also mystery boxes you'll find on the level select screen. These are ten second mini-levels that feature enemies to defeat. When they're all defeated you get some coins and a star coin or two. This also plays a hand in the StreetPass functionality. When you pass someone else who has Super Mario 3D Land, you will trade mystery boxes.
If you're looking for a challenge, this will disappoint you for the first half of the game. The game is really easy and the difficulty does not start to ramp up until you get to the Special Worlds. Speaking of that, after the first eight worlds are beaten, eight other worlds will unlock. Most of the levels in these worlds are just harder versions of the levels in the first eight worlds, with some new levels. Either way, the difficulty is welcome, as this is where the game starts to get even mildly difficult, up until the last two worlds where it does get genuinely tough, but never frustrating. You'll always have enough lives to make it through since it doesn't cap until above 1,000. The Tanooki Leaf also serves as a crutch for when you need help. If you do find the first eight worlds tough, there is help for you. After dying 5 times in one level, a box will appear which will grant you an Invincible Tanooki Leaf to get through the level.
Graphics 10/10 No complaints here, seriously. The graphics are great, looking like a downgraded version of Super Mario Galaxy. Can't really say much about this, except that the game is really pretty. It really shows off what the 3DS can do as opposed to the DS.
3D Effect 7/10: The 3D effect is alright. There are two settings, Normal and Extended Depth. For me, Normal mode wasn't very deep, and it still looked very flat in some areas, and in Extended Depth mode there was too much ghosting. The 3D is put to good use with some of the platforming, as the developers took advantage of the size and depth of blocks to make it seem they are where they aren't. It uses the 3D well, but the effect itself didn't impress me.
Sound/Music 6/10: The music's alright. It's nothing special, but it's good. Don't expect anything like the Galaxy games. There is no epic orchestra, and no choir. And that's not a bad thing, but it also doesn't help it. Nothing in the game really surprised me, and I can't really remember anything beyond the main theme, since it was played so much in the game. There aren't many different tracks, and there are only a few good ones. Sound effects are the usual thing. The classic 1-up tune and the ding whenever you get a coin.
Length 8/10: The game isn't very long. One can complete the first eight worlds in about 4 hours, and the Special Worlds in 4 or 5 more. It's a good length for a Mario game, and let's be honest, I doubt anyone went in expecting the game to last for over twenty hours. The length's fine, it'll last you a small while, just don't expect to sink hour upon hour into this game.
Replayability 6/10: Like I said before, after the first eight worlds you get eight more worlds. You also get to play as Luigi after you get far enough and in order to unlock the final, super-hard level, you need to go through every level as both Mario and Luigi, and pretty much do everything the game has to offer. Beyond that, there isn't really much that will keep you coming back. There's no multiplayer, and no minigames.
Overall, I would recommend the game. Whether you buy it or rent it, it won't really matter since you'll be able to complete the game. I bought it, and I don't regret it, but that's me. You aren't hurting yourself if you rent it. However, I definitely recommend playing it.
Final Score: 8/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 04/19/12
Game Release: Super Mario 3D Land (US, 11/13/11)
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