Review by papery0shi2

"Mario does it again!"

Mario is on a mission. It's not to protect Princess Peach or go karting with a dozen of his closest friends (and, strangely, several of his enemies) or have an epic, smashing throw-down with a bunch of other characters in the gaming universe. No, his mission is simple. Make sure his Japanese creators in Kyoto have a smashing holiday and foreseeably good future by selling lots of shinny new Wii Us.

Upon initial reveal, consumers weren't too thrilled with what they saw: a sequel to an (admittedly superb) handheld title, “Super Mario 3D Land”. While “3D Land” is without a doubt a key highlight in the 3DS library, gamers were concerned “3D World” wouldn't have the same expansive gameplay as the Galaxy games. However, the more gamers saw in the ensuing months, the more delighted they became, and for good reason. Like its predecessor, “Super Mario 3D World” aims at capturing both the ever ravenous 2D Mario fanbase with the lesser (but equally devoted) 3D fanbase. 2D Marios simply outsell 3D Mario games by vast margins, and by combining the play elements of both styles, Nintendo wants to expand Mario's already dominant marketshare. For the first time we get to see Mario multiplayer in a 3D title.

The Wii U has, admittedly, had a very difficult first year. The console has not moved unites like its elder brother, the Wii, and there have been complaints and confusion by consumers who were unsure if it was an updated Wii or an entirely new console. Despite such a long headstart on the Playstation 4 and XBOX One, the Wii U has failed to connect to a larger audience. There have also been an dearth of games, especially in the first couple of quarters. Former exclusives have been delayed and ported to other consoles (notably “Raymand Legends”) and Nintendo has had a hard time drumming up third party support due to low install base.

Saturo Iwata (Nintendo's President) and Reggie Fils Aime (President of the North American division) have repeatedly said the key to the Wii U's future is Nintendo's first party games, with “Super Mario 3D World” being a central title in that strategy. As always, Nintendo will unlock a lot of the Wii U's potential with this particular Mario key!

For starters, “Super Mario 3D World” is brilliant, first class, on the same playing field as the critically adored “Super Mario Galaxy” games. Games like “Super Mario 3D World” are why Nintendo is still relevant in the marketplace after all these years. Like all Mario games, “Super Mario 3D World” represent the best of simple “pick up and play” gaming. With very few exceptions (such as the dinosaur navigating down the river), there is no need for in-depth tutorials or in-game text, just simple, platforming fun.

PLOT: Nothing to see here, move along, move along! Oh, well, if you must. Bowser kidnaps someone other than Princess Peach who are NOT Subcons (drat!). Mario and company must rescue them. Same abduction story for the last three decades, with the only reason Peach evading capture this time around is so she can be a playable character in the game. Rosalina is an unlockable fifth player. For the first time in, oh say thirty years, we also see the Mario bros. do some actual PLUMBING WORK in the intro. I'd be surprised if Mario still has his plumbing license, given his proclivity for all this extracurricular activities that consume his time!

VISUALS: While developers will be figuring out how to best develop for the PS4 and XBox One, "Super Mario 3D World" proves the Wii U is no slouch. Without a doubt, this is the PRETTIEST, most stunning Mario game to date, all running at 60 FPS.

LEVELS: There is a wide variety of levels that go far outside the standard Mario level tropes. Like its predecessors before it, “Super Mario 3D World” effortlessly tosses off brilliant platforming challenges and unique game design ingenuities before rapidly moving on to other glories. Often times developers would build entire games around stand-alone ideas that Nintendo only uses for a level or two before swiftly moving onto yet another platforming miracle. While there are the standard levels (grassy, fire and water, etc), Nintendo has fit in so much creativity and so many ideas that, paired with the HD visuals, the results are breathtaking. There's even a brief homage to “Super Mario Kart”. There is a shooter stage (which Miyamoto wanted in the orignal “Super Mario Bros” and which the cloud sections are left-over remnants of that idea). For the first time in Mario history the World Map is free roaming rather than stringent paths and holds the promises of many secrets! We have a top down Zelda-type stage. The levels have a lot of replayability, as sometimes only certain characters are unable to unlock all the secrets of a certain level.

POWER UPS: The Cat Suit is getting the most digital type and most marketing, but for my money, the Double Cherry is one of the most inventive new game ideas I've seen yet in a series that seemingly holds the patent on inventiveness and ingenuity. By touching the double cherry, you make a clone of yourself. By touching another one, you make yet another clone, with up to four clones for each player. Five Marios at once is atonishing; when you incorporate multiplayer and have five Marios and five Princess Toadstools running around at the same time the effect is amazing. The Boomerang Suit and Racoon Suit are also avaialble. Finally, twenty eight years after we first rescured Princess Peach, we get to see her use a Fire Flower!

MULTI PLAYER: First introduced in "New Super Mario Bros Wii" in 2009 and continued in "New Super Mario Bros. U", multiplayer has been hectic at best and chaotic at worst for Super Mario. The 2D courses of the those two games are largely built for one player, and adding three more moving sprite models is frantic to say the least and often very difficult. While there are still some very minor camera issues in four player, for the first time multi-player feels like a natural extension of a Super Mario game, rather than a much touted “new” feature.

The most marked difference this time around is rather than feature co-op play, instead each player is directly competing against the others, and whoever scores the most gets to wear a crown on the next level. This competitive game play adds a whole other dimension otherwise lacking to the Mario series, and would have served the two “New” titles well. Multiplayer in Mario really needed the three dimensional space and competitive play to realise its full potential. Likewise, when lives are running low (which they can, amazingly), sometimes it is better to collaborate with your fellow players, with each person finding the player that best suits their skill and helping the others as well to get through the level.

MULTIPLE CHARACTERS: For the first time since “Super Mario Bros. 2" in 1988 (Doki Doki Panci decriers be damned!), you are able to choose between four playable characters: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad. Rather than be gameplay clones like in the “New” games, each have their own unique flavor, modelled after “SMB2", which creates interesting situations in multiplayer.

CHALLENGE: The first four or five worlds do not present anything terribly difficult, but like “3D Land” the extensive post-game content provides plenty of in-depth challenge to make platforming buffons out of even the so called “Mario” master players.

EXTRA CONTENT: There is lots of post game content just like 3D Land. There are three green stars hidden per level, and also stamps which you can share in Mii-verse (and the closet thing we've seen to achievements yet in a Nintendo title).

SOUNDTRACK AND CAPTAIN TOAD: The soundtrack perfectly blends new music with revisited classics from the series. The music is fully orchestrated, a la the Galaxy titles. Throughout the world map there are Captain Toad levels, which are puzzle worlds where you control a Toad that cannot jump. Nice bonus content and reminds me of Pushmo.

Mario is no stranger to the task set before him by his Japanese masters. Mario has always sold systems. With such brilliant design as afforded to Mario, how could he not? Without a doubt, this is easily one of the key games to pick up for a Wii U. For the “Super Mario 3D Land” detractors. “Super Mario 3D World” proves to be a defining moment in Mario's storied career, perfectly bridging the 2D games and “Super Mario 64" and the “Galaxy” titles. When the eight generation is drawing to a close, “Super Mario 3D Land” will be held up as one of the defining, must-play games of its era.

Don't miss it!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/25/13

Game Release: Super Mario 3D World (US, 11/22/13)

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