Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Medium: Wii U Optical Disc
I probably won’t play a game as good as Super Mario 3D World for the rest of this year. If the hype train hasn’t caught up to you yet, I’m not sure what I can do with this review to bring you on board. But it’s an absolutely fantastic game that justifies the purchase price of the Wii U, and finally gives 3D Mario fans something to latch on to with Nintendo’s newest hardware. Bold statements I suppose, but if you sit down to check out the newest Mario adventure from the talented people over at Nintendo EAD Tokyo I think you’ll definitely agree.
As the name implies, the game does pick up ideas and concepts from the portable Super Mario 3D Land, but it seems to be equally influenced by the Mario Galaxy series on the original Wii. The biggest addition, outside of the diverse concepts featured across numerous stages, is the inclusion of drop-in, drop-out four player co-op. From the start you’ll be able to select from Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach, swapping out characters in between levels if playing alone, or letting friends drop in to your game locally whenever they want.
But this is not an experience that necessarily needs to be played with a group. Much like the New Super Mario Bros. series, co-op tends to be more antagonistic and chaotic than anything else. It’s fun, but if you don’t have a full group of friends around that are interested in playing, you’re not losing out any sort of special experience here. While some allowances have been made to fit four players on the screen at once with a zoomed out perspective and multiple camera angles, this is still an incredible single-player platformer.
While Super Mario 3D World adopts a lot of familiar concepts that Mario fans have grown accustomed to, it also manages to introduce a few new things outside of the 4 player co-op. New power-ups included the character multiplying Cherries, which split Mario and company into multiple versions of themselves. Marching four Mario’s across a stage powered up with Fire Flowers and raining hot flames down on Piranha Plants and Koopa Troopers is a sight to behold, but ends up feeling just as natural as controlling a single character provided you’re not easily distracted by the spectacle of it all.
The Cat Suit, probably the most publicized addition to the game, nestles firmly into the Mario Suit Hall of Fame next to the Tanooki, Frog, Hammer, and Boomerang outfits. With the Cat Suit you’ll be able to scale walls to a limited degree, and this function figures into hunting down the various collectibles scattered across the many courses featured here. The Cat Suit also offers up some limited offense, with a swipe function that becomes quite useful for multiple enemies, and a diving attack that certainly got me out of a tight spot or two.
Besides the introduction of new functions and items, there are a lot of fun callbacks to previous Super Mario titles. Considering this is the first Super Mario game to re-adopt World in its title, you’ll see foes you haven’t seen for quite some time, like the burly linebackers from the SNES classic. You’ll also revel in the excellent soundtrack, which makes great use of familiar themes for remixes, but tosses in a whole host of original tracks that make this an OST worth hunting down post-game.
It’s also a sizeable adventure, provided you’re obsessed with hunting down secrets and gathering collectibles. Sure, you can power through most stages quickly enough, but this is a game that really shines if you’re willing to put the effort into exploring. Thankfully this doesn’t feel like a chore compared to other titles that pack in far too many collectibles with little rhyme or reason for existing, or to arbitrarily pad the length of the game.
Hunting down the green stars and newly introduced stamps (which tie into the MiiVerse functionality) often bestows an enormous sense of accomplishment. I think you’ll be surprised with how many lives you’ll be willing to burn through in order to secure that one hard to reach star that’s just constantly beyond your reach. And when you finally snag it, you’ll likely jump straight on MiiVerse to brag about it, an activity you’ll clearly not be alone in.
I’ve enjoyed every moment spent with Super Mario 3D World and plan to spend more time with it thanks to additional content unveiled upon completion. It is, without a doubt, the best game you can own for the Wii U, and quite possibly the best game you’ll play all year. It’s hard to imagine that in one week we’ve seen two GOTY contenders from Nintendo with this and Zelda, but I’m certainly not complaining. Super Mario 3D World is a master class in platforming fun, and deserves every bit of praise heaped upon it.