Super Mario 3D Land

Nintendo’s been cranking out Mario games since, well, since videogames as we know them were invented. Literally. So, despite the fact that the jumpy plumber’s had the odd little hiccup - where “hiccup” means only great, rather than incredible - the one thing he’s never jumped is the shark.

When we heard, then, that the 3DS was to get not only a new Mario game, but an original Mario game at that, and this early in its life... we were excited. No, we were ecstatic. Does it live up to the hype? Oh hell yes it does - this is every bit the amazing Mario adventure you’ve been hoping would grace Nintendo’s latest platform.

 
Ad FeedbackAdvertisement

Before we go there, though, the basics. Mario, if you’re not familiar with him, is a platforming supremo. His... girl-friend, Peach, has gotten herself kidnapped again and he must tackle a series of increasingly complicated platforming challenges in order to rescue her.

If there was a sub-title to this masterpiece, it would be “Perspective”. The designers have taken the 3D capabilities of the console as their cue and have designed most of their levels with some sort of clever play on your point of view.

It plays out alternately from side-on and traditional 3D perspectives, with clever 2D levels, top down stuff, and loads of situations in which the level - and the 3D capabilities of the console - will genuinely give you vertigo.

There are loads of powerups to collect, including plenty from Mario’s past and a bunch of new collectables too. The marquee addition, as evidenced by its inclusion in the game’s logo (and after its inclusion in a marketing campaign by the morally bankrupt muppets at PETA), is the Tanooki Suit. Without going into why it’s called that, it gives you a tail and lets you both attack (with a Mario Galaxy-like spin attack) and hover.

You can even keep a spare powerup in your inventory and switch between them (or activate a banked one, if you don’t have any active) with a simple touch of the lower screen. It’s a good tactical inclusion, and one that will have you "farming" previous levels in order to ensure you're correctly equipped for tougher challenges down the line.

If you're a Mario veteran, there's no two ways about it: you're going to find the going here pretty easy. There are moments, sure, in which your Mario skills will be tested (particularly once you finish the main campaign and unlock the special worlds), but you'll defeat Bowser without too much difficulty (I finished the main game with 130 lives on my first play-through).

If you do fail five times in any given level (and they're pretty short - ideal for handheld consumption) you'll be granted a special version of the Tanooki suit, which gives you the normal attack and hover ability, as well as the invulnerability that is normally only afforded by the Star powerup.

While this may seem like a cop-out, and can certainly be exploited if you're so inclined, I found instead that it allowed me to get through bits that were driving me crazy and let me get at the fresh, innovative stuff hiding behind. There's also motivation for players to avoid it ever even appearing, as once it does, your save game loses the sparkly sheen that an un-assisted play-through might otherwise reward you with.

If you're ham-fisted or playing a Mario game for the first time, you even get the option of skipping to the end of a level entirely if you fail at it ten times - although it's hard to imagine just how much success you're going to have at the next one.

The levels designs - without exception - are sublime. They’re clever, intuitive, charming, and varied - you never once feel like you’re doing the same thing you’ve already bested on an earlier stage. There are so many nods to classic Mario games, too, that a veteran of the series will be constantly spotting new things. There's the end of level flag jump from Super Mario Bros., the bonus levels from Super Mario Land - even the swinging flail from Wario Land on the Virtual Boy has a starring role in a few sequences.

Visually, the game is a sensation. It looks amazing, and not just in a “box checking” way at that. It’s not just the gorgeous colours, shapes, textures, animations, and effects - although they contribute. It’s the love with which they’re applied that tips the scales forever in favour of a perfect score.

The way Mario looks at things as he runs past them, as if in genuine wonder; the little puffs of dust when a door slams or Mario changes direction. The world is alive and is a wonderful place to spend your time. 3DS developers, consider yourselves on notice - Nintendo just made every other game on the system (and many other, more powerful systems) look like the work of amateurs.

Sound, similarly, is superbly realised. That Nintendo has a stable of the best talent and has the processes in place to ensure that only perfection passes through them is evident in every aspect of the soundscape. The musical nods to classic Mario and the updated, wholly original content mesh together perfectly, and are overlaid with special effects that will have you smiling and laughing as you play.

Complete a mid-level challenge (such as collecting musical notes or a group of hard-to-get coins), for example, and you’re met with a triumphant burst of music and the sound of an excited audience clapping. It’s exactly right and suits your mood (and the stage in gameplay) perfectly.

It also leverages the 3DS well, with the special features of the device used only when appropriate. There's StreetPass support, light utilization of the motion controls, smart use of the second screen, and the previously discussed use of the 3D.

So, OK - it’s a little too easy, and you can easily make it easier still with smart powerup management. As flaws go, that’s not too bad - and that’s genuinely the only thing wrong with it. Everything else about the title is a masterclass in how to make good games, period, and would stand up on any current (or future) platform. If you like games, you need this one in your collection. It’s the best game on the 3DS and it justifies the purchase of the system all by itself.

Buy it. Right now.


Super Mario 3D Land
"It’s a-me, in a-three-dee!"
- Super Mario 3D Land
9.8
Excellent
 
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 15 Min


 

Relevant Articles

 

Comments Comments (8)

 
twisterjamz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by twisterjamz
On Tuesday 6 Dec 2011 4:47 PM
1
Woah 9.8 awesome, I just bought today so I probably won't read this till this weekend. But by the rating it looks like its gonna be one of my favourites
 
 
 
ChatterboxZombie
Posted by ChatterboxZombie
On Tuesday 6 Dec 2011 8:53 PM
-
Walked in store and this and Mario Kart 7 were on shelf.
Bought the latter, granted i Did do eeny-meeny-miney-mo...
 
 
 
Antmannz NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Antmannz
On Wednesday 7 Dec 2011 8:25 AM
2
Surely by now Mario has earned enough from previous games to just pay off Peach's kidnappers?? :P
 
 
 
Carlin
Posted by Carlin
On Wednesday 7 Dec 2011 11:58 AM
-8
I wouldn't give this game higher than 7, it's just because the game is Mario in 3d. The 3d isn't even that great, only when stuff flies at the screen. Levels are too easy even the special worlds are easy. Power ups are meh, I just used a tanooki leaf the entire game (boomerang power is the same as a fire flower tbh) Who paid them to give a 9.8? please be more honest with your reviews.
 
This comment has been down-voted by the community.  
 
phantom
Posted by phantom
On Wednesday 7 Dec 2011 12:20 PM
6
7 December 2011, 11:58 AM Reply to Carlin
I wouldn't give this game higher than 7, it's just because the game is Mario in 3d. The 3d isn't even that great, only when stuff flies at the screen. Levels are too easy even the special worlds are easy. Power ups are meh, I just used a tanooki leaf the entire game (boomerang power is the same as a fire flower tbh) Who paid them to give a 9.8? please be more honest with your reviews.
Reviews are opinion - you're welcome to yours but we expect the same courtesy to be extended in our direction.

The reviewer (me, as it happens) loved this game, as is evidenced by the words up above.

Don't agree? Feel free to write your own reader review.

Any suggestion that reviews (or any form of editorial content) is paid for is offensive and unwarranted.
 
 
 
stevenz
Posted by stevenz
On Wednesday 7 Dec 2011 2:32 PM
-
As per the comment that no Mario game has ever been worse than "great", I'd like to refer you to pretty much any game featuring Yoshi, or any of the sports or crossover titles.

If this game is half as good as "New Super Mario Bros" or the venerable "Super Mario 64" then it should be a good 'un though, the gimmick of 3D notwithstanding.
 
 
 
Koopa18 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by Koopa18
On Thursday 8 Dec 2011 11:43 AM
1
7 December 2011, 02:32 PM Reply to stevenz
As per the comment that no Mario game has ever been worse than "great", I'd like to refer you to pretty much any game featuring Yoshi, or any of the sports or crossover titles.

If this game is half as good as "New Super Mario Bros" or the venerable "Super Mario 64" then it should be a good 'un though, the gimmick of 3D notwithstanding.
Both Yoshi's Island games tell me that you suck
 
 
 
Pcmanrules
Posted by Pcmanrules
On Friday 16 Dec 2011 11:37 PM
-
This game made me get a 3DS and not regret it. Got Mario kart 7 and Zelda with it.