Super Mario 3D World
I have so many reactions to this game that I’m not sure where to begin. Let’s start with this: I’m stoked that Nintendo finally re-released Super Mario 3D World for the Nintendo Switch.
Because it was easily the Wii U’s best kept secret.
Darn near the entire world witnessed Super Mario Odyssey rise to greatness, hailed as the best Mario game ever created. However, anyone that SM3W had to be skeptical, as I was, that any game could top the Wii U’s offering.
Among many of the great games offered for the Wii U, SM3W encapsulates everything the Mario universe ever threw onto a screen. In fact, many of the ideas we saw in Odyssey were actually introduced in SM3W… or in its predecessor on the 3DS, Super Mario 3D Land!
Regardless, 3D World is a tremendous Mario title and if not for Odyssey going so far above and beyond, would hold my personal acclaim as the greatest Mario game of all time.
Somehow, SM3W captures the spirit of the 2D NES Mario titles better than Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, or Super Mario Galaxy ever did.
3D Land was described by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto as a “3D Mario that plays as a 2D Mario game”. 3D World tops it by a country mile.
The game begins with introduction of clear pipes, one of the critical elements added to SM3W. The plot is different from other Mario games, where Bowser captures Sprixies, and you travel to the Sprixie Kingdom to rescue them over the span several worlds – some which have to be unlocked.
Levels are open, yet linear. Mario can move in three dimensions a la Mario 64, but levels play out like the original Super Mario Bros., complete with a flag pole at the end of each.
Traditional powerups, such as super mushrooms, fire flowers, and the starman return, as well as the Tanooki suit, which was featured first in Super Mario Bros. 3, but included in 3D Land – as well as the Boomerang suit which was introduced in the latter.
Other inclusions are propeller, cannon, and coin blocks, all worn as “helmets” with various powers, plus the Mega Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros., which creates a Godzilla-sized character on-screen that can smash through most of level.
The big tease, and major addition other than the clear pipes, is the cat suit. Once equipped, Mario and the gang run around on all fours and gain the able to charge at enemies and climb walls for a short period of time. A variation exists later in the game which also mimics the “statue” power from SMB3’s Tanooki suit too.
Another added feature is the Double Cherry powerup, which creates an on-screen clone of Mario that moves, jumps and reacts simultaneously with the others on-screen. It’s possible to get as many as five Mario’s going at the same time, which are then used to unlock otherwise inaccessible areas or help topple foes more quickly.
Honestly, the fan service here is second-to-none. Save screens bring back 8-bit NES Mario running on the screen as a timer, and you can also shrink smaller, near-death, rather than worry about hearts or coins for health, just like the original.
Super Mario 2 is on display as you can choose one of several characters to play with, all retaining similar traits from that game. Luigi jumps higher, Toad runs faster, and Princess Peach can float temporarily in mid-air. Since four player multiplayer is also part of the regular campaign, each can be represented at the same time as players dash with one another to complete each level.
Slot machine style bonus levels also harken back to the day of SMB2 also.
Super Mario 3 was mentioned earlier with the Tanooki suit, but Bowser’s armada and mid-level boss Boomer make cameos as well.
Super Mario World contributes Ghost Houses and Kamek. The “New” series the aforementioned Mega Mushroom as well as some of the jumps and moves that have become commonplace with the strictly 3D games too.
Heck, even Super Mario Galaxy is represented with Lumas (star-shaped creatures) and Rosalina.
Gaining 100 coins will net you an extra life still, finding three green stars is critical to unlocking later levels, and the red coin loop, to collect 8 red coins, carries over from the Yoshi’s Island games. (Though it was also adopted in other titles too.)
There’s still even more as SM3W introduced the Toad Treasure Tracker minigames, midlevel “bosses” and toad houses appear on the map much like the moving Hammer Bros. did in SMB3. Bonus worlds and other surprises await as well.
It’s quite a mouthful attempting to tell anyone about how deep this game is and how much tribute it gives to every other Mario game created.
It’s challenging just to collect all of the stars in each level, but there’s also harder-to-find stamps for a “stamp collection” embedded within each level too, special mystery challenge houses, and overall, just when you think you’ve done it all, the game keeps going… and going… (Just wait, the SMB2 rocket ship also makes an appearance!)
The levels are of such a mixed variety too, with speed runs, water levels, locked overhead perspective levels, the aforementioned multiple-Mario (cherry power-up) levels, auto-scrolling levels… the list goes on and on. (My only true complaint are the few times the Wii U gamepad is required for touch controls or to blow into the mic – an unnecessary gimmick.)
My last note is that this game seems to feel different too because it went away from the “save the princess” and “beat Bowser’s kids” theme prevalent in the previous. SM3W offers just about everything a Mario fan could want and more.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of playing this, I highly encourage you to find a copy – I even hear the Switch version adds more to the original Wii U game too! It’s really that good and definitely worth owning in your library.