Review by pafbonk
The best Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy.
Nintendo has been...less than impressive these last few months: the Wii U's hardware could be better, their "secret announcement" which we assumed to be a new Zelda or Metroid game turned to be an unlockable character in the new Donkey Kong game (ugh) and originality seems to go out the window in favor of more remakes and sequels (New Super Mario Bros U was NOT needed.)
But suddenly, a star shone by.
After a full year of somewhat decent games on the Wii U and a handful of good ones, we get the second true title the console has to offer, after the amazing Pikmin 3: Super Mario 3D World.
Let's ignore the fact that the game's name is as stupid as the console's name and dive right in the true features.
Again, Nintendo doesn't seem to be running with the others in the visual department, but within the Mario games, the console offers just what it needs. This game is the first true HD experience in the series and it shows: the backgrounds are stellar and the details on the water is actually really beautiful. The characters also look great, especially the king of the Koopas himself. Overall, this game pretty much offers that we had in mind when thinking about the Italian plumber in high definition.
If one thing has been consistent with the 3D Mario games since 1996, it's the music. Unlike the previous Wii U installment which shamelessly recycled the already unimpressive soundtrack from New Super Mario Bros Wii, this game offers a variety of new tracks and just enough remixes to keep the nostalgia running without going overboard (I point at you again NSMBU). The main theme is very catchy, but the best pieces are in the boss rooms, the castles, the lava lakes, etc. My favorite tune in the game is the Boo House theme: it has an almost Dexter-like creepiness to it. If you don't buy this game, I still recommend listening to the soundtrack!
Now, since the Gameplay in this game is pretty much the same thing as most other 3D games, especially 3D Land, I won't really discuss it as a whole. I will instead separate it in subcategories:
Controls: Almost perfect, if not for the fact that dashing in this game feels a tiny bit awkward.
Level Design: Some of the best in the series. The sheer variety of it all is mind-numbing: In one level, you'll be sliding down a waterfall in space on a dragon, and in another one you'll be chasing rabbits in the jungle. You'll even visit an ancient Asian fortress. Each level has its own "gimmick" to keep the game fresh from beginning to end.
Challenge: Not as teeth-grindly hard as Super Mario Galaxy 2 was, but in the finals levels you might get really frustrated. The game however never feels cheap or artificial. When you die, it's your fault. You have no excuse.
Length/Replay Value: If you plan to rush through the game without picking up any of the green stars or the stamps, the game might take about 10 hours. Going for full completion however (bonus levels are a staple of Mario games since Super Mario World on the SNES) and picking up every collectible can easily triple or quadruple that time (unless you're the kind of person who can speedrun Ghost and Goblins).
Multiplayer: One of the selling points of the game. We got the chaotic action of the 2D console games in 3D, and it's one of the most fun experiences you can get in Mario games along with the Mario Kart games. You can play as different characters (which, this time around, are not only all playable in single-player mode, but are also unique in their abilities (I must point fingers at NSMBU again for the two toads). Super Mario 3D World is an amazing game to play with friends.
To summarize, here are the pros and cons of this game:
-Multiple playable characters which play differently;
-Amazing level design;
-Multiplayer is fantastic;
-They did things differently this time around for once!
-God the name of this game is so stupid;
-While longer than its prequel 3D Land, the main story of this game is still the shortest of all the 3D console Mario games.
-Took a year to get. (Why wasn't this a launch title again?)
Overall, this game is in my opinion a very worthy purchase. It will easily give you your money's worth and will often be pulled off the shelf at parties to be played (if you have cool friends that is). Super Mario 3D World gives me faith that NIntendo will get off their could of delusion and start to give us the real stuff in order not to get buried by the PS4.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Super Mario 3D World (US, 11/22/13)
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