Review by Jerrynsteph4eva

"Finally! A game worth buying a Wii U over!"

I'd like to dedicate this review to Danny Wells and his family, who died shortly after this game was released. Your portrayal of Luigi was iconic and you will live on in the memories of the lives you touched.

A lot of people were skeptical when Nintendo announced Super Mario 3D World. Instead of bringing over a new Mario Galaxy game to their struggling system, Nintendo instead decided to make a sequel to Super Mario 3D Land, a game that had average reviews around the board. But like Wind Waker, Nintendo sought to disprove those people and stood behind their decision. I immediately knew that my fiancee and I were going to be getting the game, as we're huge Mario fans (my fiancee even went so far as to purchase me a Wii U on release day to play New Super Mario Bros U on it with her). But now that the game is out, how does it fare against Galaxy and how does it stand up on its own? Read on.

Super Mario 3D World is a successor to Super Mario 3D Land, a game which blends the 3D exploration of the 3D series (64, Sunshine, Galaxy) with the traditional Mario elements of the 2D series (Super Mario Bros, New Super Mario Bros). So while you get the freedom of exploring levels in 3D like Galaxy, you also have collectables, a time limit and a goal flag to hit like New Super Mario Bros U. It's an interesting blend that takes a bit of getting used to but is a blast once you've done so.

Super Mario 3D World also changes up the formula a bit by allowing you to choose from four characters, each with their own unique abilities (with a fifth unlockable post game) and it's the first time since Super Mario Bros USA that this team of characters has worked together in this way. You have Mario, who naturally is the most well rounded. Then you have Luigi, who continues his trademark "jump higher at cost of traction" that most recent 3D Mario games have given him. Toad returns from New Super Mario Bros U and can run faster than everyone else at the cost of jump height. Then, for the first time since Super Mario USA in a mainstream game, you can play as Peach, who retains her trademark glide ability (though it's a bit shorter) at the cost of running speed. Each character offers a tactical reason to choose them and are different enough that you'll want to constantly switch characters around to try new abilities or grab collectables that are just out of reach for other characters. This also marks the first Mario game since the NES era that you didn't have to play as Mario AT ALL if you don't want to (in every game you're either forced to play as Mario at least until you unlock another character).

Of course, with Peach being a playable character, they couldn't return to their ususal "Peach is in trouble save her" routine. This time, Bowser's captured seven fairy-like beings called Sprixies and it's up to our heroes to rescue them from his clutches. While it's still not an award winning storyline, when was the last time you played a Mario game to see how events unfolded?

Since there are numerous characters to play as, the developers decided to throw in four player multiplayer this time around and honestly I feel as though it works much better than in the 2D series, since you have copious amounts of room to move around in, rather than bonk off of each others heads due to the tight spaces. Multiplayer is drop in, drop out as well so you can be halfway through a stage when your friend walks in and still toss him a controller and have him join you in your search for the end level goal pole. However, be careful as everyone shares the same life pool in this game, meaning throwing your friends off of a cliff isn't as funny as it was in NSMBU since you'll lose a life yourself. While the bubble returns as well, you can only use it on solid ground, which makes it much more tactical than it was (also meaning you can't bubble to save yourself anymore).

The game also supports practically every controller the Wii U supports as well. While some stages require you to use the Gamepad (for things like touch platforms and platforms you have to blow to move), gamers can use a Wii U Pro Controller, Wiimote, Wiimote and nunchuck and even a Wiimote and Classic Controller in order to play. It's a great touch, especially for those of you out there who haven't bought Wii U Pro Controllers (shame on you!) or have a specific control scheme you enjoy.

A Mario game wouldn't be quite the same without numerous Power-ups and Mario 3D World is brim full of them. Fan favorites such as the Mushroom, Star and Fire Flower return while 3D Land favorites like the Boomerang Bros and Propeller head return. However, the biggest inclusion is Cat Mario, a spiffy new Power-up that changes you into a feline version of yourself. This may seem silly at first but when you find yourself able to climb walls (and the goal post) as well as utilize diving attacks, you'll see it's an amazing new Power-up that you'll thoroughly enjoy. Super Guide also returns in the form of a White Tanooki leaf, allowing you to invincibly rush past monsters and float around as you please, though doing so will remove the glimmer of your stars later in your file's life.

Levels are accessed through a world map, a la 3D Land, though this time you're free to explore the map as you please which is an awesome new feature. Roam around the space behind the level you're stuck on and hit blocks for coins, search for hidden pipes and exits, whatever the act it brings a new level of interactivity to the world map that is refreshing and fits well with the exploration theme of the 3D games.

The levels themselves are designed extremely well and go from easy levels you won't break a sweat with to monstrous levels you'll be glad you beat. They vary from snowy, ice worlds to sandy desert worlds to even spacey Galaxy style worlds so there's no shortage of backdrops to visit!

Inside each level are hidden collectables, similarly to Mario 3D Land and NSMBU. While most normal levels have 3 hidden green stars, some contain anywhere from one to thirty hidden Green Stars and they help unlock later levels as well as add replayability to the levels, as you'll want to hop back and see if you can find the stars you missed. Certain levels also contain Stamps, hidden collectables that seem to be useless but can be brought into Miiverse to use in your posts. They range from various activities (Mario stopping on a dime, Luigi jumping) to objects (Coins, Pipes) to even characters (Bowser, Cat Toad). They're a cool addition, especially if you like to share your ideas on Miiverse.

Miiverse ghosts is another new feature, should you enable it, that downloads the ghosts of your friends and Miiverse patrons to compare and race against. It's a minor feature but a cool one as you can try to best your friends records or see where a collectable might be.

One thing gamers might not like is the game's shift from 3D gameplay to a mix. While I feel it's a perfect blend of old and new and a refreshing new take on Mario, the game plays a lot like a expanded 2D Mario, which will no doubt irk a few players who were expecting their familiar "Find a star" mission based gameplay. If you give it a chance, you'll enjoy it but if you had your heart set on Galaxy 3, you'll probably find the game disappoints slightly.

While multiplayer is a blast and can be used to your favor, it also has it's flaws. For starters, players can't move off of the map too far or risk being teleported backwards (or forwards), meaning explorative players who have found a Star or secret area will often get teleported just as they're investigating. While I can see why this happens for normal players, why couldn't Gamepad players split up from normal players? They did it in Nintendo Land, why not in 3D World? The camera also angles itself in a fixed position in multiplayer, making it hard sometimes when one player is further ahead and trying to jump across platforms they can see or another player is higher than the others and the rest can't see what they're doing. Several levels are also single player only, which is a drag if you're trying to beat the game co-op and have to skip levels or stop.

Like the previous Mario games, this is local multiplayer only and the only online is the ghosts mentioned above. I understand Nintendo wanting to preserve the integrity of couch co-op (a feature I sorely miss on other systems) but to ignorantly keep denying people online when you could have both couch co-op and online co-op is baffling. Get with the times Nintendo!

All in all though, you'll be hard pressed to find anything to complain about in Super Mario 3D World. The game is simply amazing, the gameplay is fresh and fun while still holding onto Mario's core values to make it feel familiar. It's especially fun to grab a few buddies and tackle the game's co-op (though don't be surprised if you can't beat every level together). To the skeptics who doubted this game: you were wrong, it's amazing and I'd even go so far as to say it's worth buying a Wii U over. Put your worries aside and enjoy the fun this game has to offer.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/06/13

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

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