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Flappin' Raccoon Tails in the 3DS' New "Super Mario"

There's a new Mario coming to 3DS, and it's kind of 3D, but kind of not? Read on.

The 3DS game Nintendo is currently referring to only as "Super Mario" is an even split between the traditional 2D platforming of New Super Mario Bros. and fully 3D, exploration-based gameplay a la Super Mario 64. I got to play three of the four quick levels on demo here at E3, and... I'm not 100 percent sold yet. But Super Mario (it's so weird just calling it that) has some neat ideas, and the freaking tanooki suit is in there, so I'm still willing to give it a fair shake when there's more to see.

The game reminds me of NSMB primarily because you play every level from a fixed camera perspective. They certainly aren't all the same camera angle, but the point is you can't spin the camera around freely like in most third-person action games. Some of the levels scroll directly left to right, and you can move into and out of the background a bit, kind of like in Final Fight. You play other levels from a three-quarter overhead perspective, and others from a more traditional third-person view where you're heading straight into the background.

Super Mario's gameplay is pretty slowly paced. Mario can hop onto enemies to kill them, and the one-two-three jump and butt-stomp mechanics from Mario 64 are in there too. And of course there's that tanooki suit, although you can't really do much with it yet. I couldn't find anywhere to build up enough speed to actually fly, Mario 3-style, and you can't use it to turn into a statue either. But at least you can spin around with the tail to take out enemies, and hold the jump button in the air to flap your tail and slow your descent. Disturbingly, some of the goombas have raccoon tails too, but that's neither here nor there. I'm just excited to see more suits in a Mario game again.

Super Mario is of course taking plenty of other cues from past Mario games. I played a level set on an airship rife with flamethrowers, Bullet Bill launchers, and tight wires that culminated in a boss fight against an oversized Koopa kid. Other levels are sort of floating in empty space, like in Mario Galaxy. There were a lot of opportunities to fall into bottomless pits, actually, and in the demo, with 3D enabled, I had some trouble judging the depth in the scene and figuring out on the fly exactly where Mario was going to land, leading me to make some jumps I immediately wished I hadn't. In some cases there were coins arranged in a cube shape where it wasn't exactly clear which coins were closer to the camera and which were farther away. All this might just be a consequence of combining these fixed and sometimes unusual camera angles with the actual 3D on this handheld. Who's had time to get used to playing Mario in 3D? Not me.

Anyway, hey! Tanooki suit! The 3DS certainly needs a new Mario game, and this one is pulling a lot of enticing new and old elements together. You pick up fire flowers to shoot fireballs at enemies; you go down pipes to collect extra coins. But there's some unique stuff, too, like running from ghosts across the keys of a giant haunted piano. (See the trailer above.) I hope Nintendo can pull all of this together into a package as enticing as the last DS Mario game, before Super Mario heads to retail toward the end of the year.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
37 Comments
Posted by Brad

The 3DS game Nintendo is currently referring to only as "Super Mario" is an even split between the traditional 2D platforming of New Super Mario Bros. and fully 3D, exploration-based gameplay a la Super Mario 64. I got to play three of the four quick levels on demo here at E3, and... I'm not 100 percent sold yet. But Super Mario (it's so weird just calling it that) has some neat ideas, and the freaking tanooki suit is in there, so I'm still willing to give it a fair shake when there's more to see.

The game reminds me of NSMB primarily because you play every level from a fixed camera perspective. They certainly aren't all the same camera angle, but the point is you can't spin the camera around freely like in most third-person action games. Some of the levels scroll directly left to right, and you can move into and out of the background a bit, kind of like in Final Fight. You play other levels from a three-quarter overhead perspective, and others from a more traditional third-person view where you're heading straight into the background.

Super Mario's gameplay is pretty slowly paced. Mario can hop onto enemies to kill them, and the one-two-three jump and butt-stomp mechanics from Mario 64 are in there too. And of course there's that tanooki suit, although you can't really do much with it yet. I couldn't find anywhere to build up enough speed to actually fly, Mario 3-style, and you can't use it to turn into a statue either. But at least you can spin around with the tail to take out enemies, and hold the jump button in the air to flap your tail and slow your descent. Disturbingly, some of the goombas have raccoon tails too, but that's neither here nor there. I'm just excited to see more suits in a Mario game again.

Super Mario is of course taking plenty of other cues from past Mario games. I played a level set on an airship rife with flamethrowers, Bullet Bill launchers, and tight wires that culminated in a boss fight against an oversized Koopa kid. Other levels are sort of floating in empty space, like in Mario Galaxy. There were a lot of opportunities to fall into bottomless pits, actually, and in the demo, with 3D enabled, I had some trouble judging the depth in the scene and figuring out on the fly exactly where Mario was going to land, leading me to make some jumps I immediately wished I hadn't. In some cases there were coins arranged in a cube shape where it wasn't exactly clear which coins were closer to the camera and which were farther away. All this might just be a consequence of combining these fixed and sometimes unusual camera angles with the actual 3D on this handheld. Who's had time to get used to playing Mario in 3D? Not me.

Anyway, hey! Tanooki suit! The 3DS certainly needs a new Mario game, and this one is pulling a lot of enticing new and old elements together. You pick up fire flowers to shoot fireballs at enemies; you go down pipes to collect extra coins. But there's some unique stuff, too, like running from ghosts across the keys of a giant haunted piano. (See the trailer above.) I hope Nintendo can pull all of this together into a package as enticing as the last DS Mario game, before Super Mario heads to retail toward the end of the year.

Staff
Edited by Interpol

interesting. and the requisite FINALLY!

Posted by Lone_Killer

All this game needs is Kuribo's Shoe and I'll be sold.

Posted by ArclightBorealis

The 3D thing sounds like something that could take time to get used to, and would benefit from playing the game for a while. Doing it in a demo on the show floor doesn't seem to do much.

But everything else? Looks pretty fucking awesome.

Posted by AlwaysBeClothing

Tanukiiiiiiiiiiii

but Raccoon son

Posted by Astroknot

interesting. the leaf turns him into a tanooki now? also the jumps look awfully floaty.

Posted by VirtuaXav

Wow, so many decent 3DS games coming out. Between this, Luigi's Mansion and Mario Kart I'll be set for a while.

Posted by Coombs

I was pumped when I read the raccoon tail is back, 
Then my joy was destroyed when I realized it wasn't a side-scroller. 

Posted by m0rdr3d

Not having control of the camera is a little bit sad, but come on, these games are almost always fantastic.  I've gotta play it.
Posted by Babylonian

This was the sole game trailer that had me going "WHOA I NEED THAT" during Nintendo's presser, so I'm a little disappointed to hear Brad didn't dig on it too hard. It looked like simplified, condensed, portable-friendly Galaxy-2-like experience from the teaser they put out. Hopefully the game they ship is closer to that!

Posted by Xpgamer7

It looks the best graphically on the 3DS, and probably will bring in the most sales of the platform. On the other hand I'm tired of sidescrollers.

Posted by Eyz

Dat Plumber :P

Posted by Abomstar

Looks like it'll be quality, but landing jumps on enemies from fixed viewing angles like these has always been sort of annoying. Not that this should pose any real challenge.

Posted by buft

thank god its coming in the near future

Online
Posted by Vexxan

Looks amazing, finally some great games for the 3DS are shown.

Keep 'em coming!

Posted by leejunfan83

so it's a mario game

Posted by Spikey

You need to have your Mario license revoked.  That "oversized koopa kid" was clearly Boom-Boom.

Posted by Chopstix

Crash Bandicoot! 
CRASH BANDICOOT!

Posted by Hector

I was hoping it was going to be like Galaxy a bit more.

Posted by Zelnox

Sure a Mario game, but it didn’t blow me away like the unveiling of Mario Galaxy or New Super Mario Wii. Not sold yet.

Posted by MeatSim

Get your raccoon on.

Online
Posted by Enigma777

Meh

Posted by Hizang

Does this mean you can turn into a statue?

Posted by Mopsical

A mix of 2D and 3D Mario? I like where this is heading.

Posted by FreakAche

The Super Mario?

Posted by GunslingerPanda

Fixed camera oersoective is definitely a good thing considering the lack of a second analog stick. Good to see Ninty are making the game on the strengths of the system and not just making a console game on a handheld.

Posted by ryanwho

Why is the Tanuki suit acting like the raccoon suit? Yo, Tanuki turns into stone motherfuckers. Raccoon suit flies. Get it right.

Posted by ChrisInCali

That trailer didn't look too good.  A lot of half-cooked things coming from Nintendo these days.

Edited by Kjellm87
@ChrisInCali said:

That trailer didn't look too good.  A lot of half-cooked things coming from Nintendo these days.

 E3 announced games often changes/ improved before it is released.  
Almost none of the stages shown in Mario Galaxy 2 at E3 was in the final product.
Posted by rmanthorp

Yeah!

Moderator
Posted by Siphillis

The Mario Galaxy team are f-ing technical wizards.

Posted by liako21

you can jump on flag poles? im half way sold.

Posted by nunami

Now I have a reason to own a 3DS

Posted by adamazing

Yes, please.
Posted by WinterSnowblind

@ryanwho said:

Why is the Tanuki suit acting like the raccoon suit? Yo, Tanuki turns into stone motherfuckers. Raccoon suit flies. Get it right.

I thought this was very odd too.

But I'm just hoping we see more bigger levels, similar to Mario 64 and Galaxy. I was very disappointed with Galaxy 2.

Posted by rmanthorp

Very Crash like! Strange for Mario :C

Moderator
Posted by ProjektGill

I love for them to just make super high quality side scrollers with the added 3DS power instead of a kinda mediocre polygonal game.