Giant Bomb Review

184 Comments

Super Mario 3D World Review

5
  • WIIU

Nintendo has knocked it out of the park once again, making its latest platformer a must play.

Nintendo is a company faced with a seemingly impossible task over and over again: remixing nostalgia. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. This means Nintendo is constantly trying to reinvent what's come before without betraying the long-standing reasons people are there in the first place. It’s hampered The Legend of Zelda series for years, but the team behind Super Mario Galaxy has shown how to pull this daunting challenge off over and over again. Super Mario Galaxy was both an evolutionary and revolutionary approach to a Mario game, finding new ways to make Mario fun to play with in 3D. Super Mario 3D Land, however, reinvented the very concept of playing a 2D Mario game set within a 3D space. This team’s latest, Super Mario 3D World, explores this idea even further. In short, Super Mario 3D World is terrific.

Even the traditional overworld has been touched, with players now able to freely walk around and seek out hidden secrets.

Both in look and feel, World will be intimately familiar to anyone who's spent time with Land. But there are some key differences. World brings back the ability to choose between multiple characters with distinctive and meaningful differences, an idea sadly abandoned after (the still underrated) Super Mario Bros. 2. It's back in World, with players choosing between Mario (he's good at everything), Luigi (he can jump really far), Peach (she's slower but can briefly float at will), and Toad (dude's fast as hell). Later in the game, Rosalina from the Galaxy games is unlocked, and she comes equipped with a nifty spin move that, like Peach, can often save an ill-timed jump. Peach and Rosalina were my go-to characters in World, as their quirks often got me out of a jam, and it's not often that World rewards the player with a huge advantage for being faster. Occasionally, the game will lock some secrets behind buttons that require specific characters to trigger, and Peach's slow speed meant I was unable to gain enough momentum to reach the top of some flag poles. But importantly, these are not palette swaps to make multiplayer more visually interesting, and I suspect players will have their own arguments and preferences for "the best character" in the game. It adds a new-ish wrinkle to the gameplay, and it's a welcomed one.

Let's get one thing out of the way, though. World continues Nintendo's experimentation with multiplayer in a Mario game, but as in the past, it's a superior experience solo. That said, the multiplayer is far less chaotic than the 2D incarnations, as the additional environmental space gives players a chance to avoid one another. When additional players become involved, the remarkably deep exploration aspect of World evaporates. Instead, the experience becomes about the one thing multiple people can silently agree upon: progression. Two players remains the sweet spot for engaging with multiplayer without a descent into utter chaos, but as in the past, you'll want to tackle this one alone.

There are some wide-reaching consequences to the game's multiplayer design, however. Accommodating up to four characters in every stage means the level design has the feeling of being stretched out, and it means there's less precision platforming early on. World more than makes up for that with rapid-fire creativity, and the game's levels are still crafted in a way that makes obsessive exploration a completionist joy, not a psychological curse. Collectibles have become something of a joke in many games, a reason to unlock an achievement, rather than a reward for being curious. World continues a series tradition of encouraging you to explore every nook and cranny, rewarding the player not only for the sheer act of discovery but having the bits and pieces eventually unlock some of the game's most brutal stages. (Land's final, crazy level took me several hours to complete, even though its actual "length" was about average.)

There are cats everywhere in Super Mario 3D World. You cannot escape them. Don't even try.

Without spoiling the game's secrets, the development team seems aware that much of the game isn't asking for lots of precision. At one point, it clearly signals to the player there's no more goofing around, and the game's about to get very serious about reflexes. In Land, this came at a "gotcha!" moment when it seemed like the game was ending. In World, there are several "gotcha!" moments, to the point where it's hard to fathom the game ever ends. Instead, it only continues to get better, harder, and more interesting. Despite so many Mario games under this team's belt, almost every stage promises something new. So many games, platforming or otherwise, come up with a new trick and slavishly beat it into the ground. Here, an idea comes and goes like a ship in the night, possibly to never return again. Even if it does, you can rest assured it's been subtly tweaked.

And just as the multiplayer has made the levels wider, the new cat suit has shifted the levels taller, as well. There's a sense of verticality to World that hasn't been present in a Mario game before, and it's going to compel you to keep that cat suit on, come hell or high water. The cat suit allows you to briefly but swiftly climb up almost any surface in the game, useful for all sorts of reasons, including making your way to the top of a flag pole. It feels like cheating, but you're smiling the whole time. Clever secrets functioning as reasons to come back to old stages has been a mainstay of Mario games, especially in the 3D era, and the cat suit means you're suddenly looking in spots that were once unreachable. Just because the camera can't show the top of the structure around you doesn't mean a green star isn't hiding there, and one often finds themselves scampering up everything around them in search of what's hidden.

There's even a stage that's Mario Kart-themed, forcing players to run around at obnoxiously fast speeds.

A surprising bonus is that this is the prettiest Mario game yet. World brings Mario into the high-definition age in a way New Super Mario Bros. U didn't dare try, and the results are astounding. Nintendo's general aesthetic, one that emphasizes simplistic and memorable designs with bold and striking colors, looks gorgeous here. It's not simply that World immediately benefits from an art direction that's flourished on technologically limited platforms, though. World begins showing what Nintendo is capable of as it's becoming more comfortable with modern graphical techniques. World sports some brilliant but subtle lighting, tiny additions that are the most visible in the game's fire-filled stages. And maybe it's just me, but I have to admit a twinge of disappointment upon realizing World isn't playable in stereoscopic 3D, a onetime-gimmick that Nintendo has expertly refined on 3DS, transforming 3D into a surprisingly essential part of the visual experience on its handheld platform.

And there are so many other, small touches that brought me joy during my time with World. The occasional Toad-focused puzzle stages that remove jumping from the equation, a haunted house stage where the visuals become black-and-white, the lovely and memorable orchestrated music, the way characters will occasionally meow at the screen while wearing the cat suit, the discovery that completely hidden blocks appear on the screen by blowing into the GamePad's microphone, the many nods to forgotten enemies in Mario's long history, and...well, I could keep going.

Suffice it to say, World continues to make the case that it's possible to reinvent a classic over and over again. World might not be the same revelation that Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy were, but it doesn't look at traditions as a crutch, and instead uses what you know as a way to delight and entertain.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
190 Comments
  • 190 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Posted by mlarrabee

But I don't have a Wii U! And I don't know if I want one!

I need a friend with a Wii U.

A WiiFriendU.

Posted by Dixego

Wait, what?

Posted by Luddite

A console finally coming into its own, I hope for its own sake.

Edited by TheSouthernDandy

CATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCAT

I find it insane the the first next gen console I buy MAY end up being a WiiU. BANANAS

Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam

I don't like cats, but trains are ace.

Posted by Nightriff

Man I really want a Wii U now...fuck

Posted by mnzy

But I don't have a Wii U! And I don't know if I want one!

I need a friend with a Wii U.

A WiiFriendU.

Just ask random people "Wii U be my friend?"

Posted by Flappy

I tawt I taw a puddy cat.

Posted by abara

Can it be Friday yet?

Posted by freakin9

I tried this today... and I think I might actually like the stupid cat Mario game. Didn't see that coming.

Online
Posted by Fobwashed

I haven't finished a Mario game since maybe Sunshine. Maybe this'll change that. Nice review.

Online
Edited by forteexe21

Can't wait for the mayhem of the quick look! Nyaaaa...

Posted by nothingreal

if only it had some loco-cycle style fmv it would be perfect.

Edited by kineticflow

Meow.

Posted by cthomer5000

Patrick review! Oh yeah!

Edited by csl316

I don't even like cats, but I'll still probably blow next year's tax return on the Wii U for this thing.

Edited by ptys

Good stuff man, I think one thing which would make your articles less jarring would be to avoid pop culture slang e.g "hit it out of the park" and "in a jam" very well written piece though. Wish I had a Wii U!

Edited by jsnyder82

Huzzah! God I can't wait until Friday. Be Friday already! Stupid world, spin faster!

Posted by rift33

Nice.. Been looking forward to this,even picked up a wii U the other day. Good timing

Edited by scaramoosh

I just cannot justify £40 on a game, I'll spend £20 for it, I just think £40 is too much these days. I can get all other games for £20 on PC, just sick of console prices, just so expensive, I can see why the PC is the most popular platform these days, I mean 32 million people watched that LoL match.........

Nintendo need to get with the times and start F2P games.

I got bioshock Infinite for £15, got Mass effect 3 for free lol, got Metro Last Light for £5... all games this year! I bet though that Nintendo game will stay the same price throughout its life. (yeh I know ME3 was 2012)

Why I'm sick of Nintendo.

Posted by Atwa

FUCK YOU NEXT GEN WE GOT MARIO

Edited by Flacracker

Nintendo to stronk

Edited by Abendlaender

When Nintendo is bringing their A Game, I feel like nobody can compete with them. I don't own a WiiU and don't intend to buy one in the near future, but god damn this game just looks like pure fun.

Posted by spilledmilkfactory

Probably your best-written review yet, Patrick. And I have a feeling I'll agree wholeheartedly with that 5-Star consensus

Posted by DevourerOfTime

CATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCAT

Good to hear you liked the game, even with how hyped up you were for it in the past few weeks. Don't have that high of expectations for this (I doubt it will live up to the amazing experience that Super Mario 3D Land was) but that doesn't mean I'm not excited for Friday!

Posted by big_jon

Can't wait to get this game in and around my mouth!

Posted by JayEH

I want to buy a Wii U, but I can't justify spending $300 for only a couple of games that I want...

Posted by Milkman

CATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCATCAT

I wish I had a WiiU.

Edited by MormonWarrior

I'm shocked that it took you that long to beat that special level in 3D Land. I mean, I guess I'm way good at Mario games, but geez...I got it on like my third try. It wasn't as hard as you made it seem. Mario Sunshine had harder weird platform levels.

Glad to hear this is great though. I'll be getting a Wii U as soon as possible for this.

Posted by Rays_Gaming_Rants

Good to see Patrick writing reviews. Also nice to see a game that should sell consoles for the Wii U.

Posted by Noogy

So glad to hear this is gong to be awesome as I had hoped. Mario 3D Land is still my favorite polygonal Mario by far.

Posted by Slow_pC

Looks like I got to trade in NSMB finally and grab this one.

Posted by Benmo316

The more I read about 3D World the more I can't wait until Friday. It'll be difficult not to turn on my PS4 but the time away from my shiny new console won't be in vein. I cannot wait to be a cat (I don't think I've ever uttered those words before).

Online
Edited by Bill_Rizer

Nintendo has a knack for making great games.

Edited by AV_Gamer

This is why Nintendo is far from done in the console market. Sure their console is based on last-gen design, but it's not about technology, it's about the games. And when it comes to making quality games, Nintendo's first party stuff is usually masterful.

If the PS4 and Xbox 1 gaming library is mostly filled with military shooters, racers, and the like, many gamers might get tired of it and buy a Wii U anyway for the new Mario's, Zelda's, etc.

Edited by fargofallout
Edited by Daneian

Posted by BlueWolverine

"Collectibles have become something of a joke in many games, a reason to unlock an achievement, rather than a reward for being curious."

Couldn't agree more.

Posted by ninkendo

It's pretty great that I already own a Wii U!

Posted by TruthTellah

I just cannot justify £40 on a game, I'll spend £20 for it, I just think £40 is too much these days. I can get all other games for £20 on PC, just sick of console prices, just so expensive, I can see why the PC is the most popular platform these days, I mean 32 million people watched that LoL match.........

Nintendo need to get with the times and start F2P games.

I got bioshock Infinite for £15, got Mass effect 3 for free lol, got Metro Last Light for £5... all games this year! I bet though that Nintendo game will stay the same price throughout its life. (yeh I know ME3 was 2012)

Why I'm sick of Nintendo.

Is this comment a joke? I feel like this is a parody of Internet commenters.

This game seems clearly worth the asking price, and Nintendo, just like every other game developer, doesn't need to go Free to Play.

Posted by BlueWolverine

@av_gamer:

@av_gamer said:

This is why Nintendo is far from done in the console market. Sure their console is based on last-gen design, but it's not about technology, it's about the games. And when it comes to making quality games, Nintendo's first party stuff is usually masterful.

If the PS4 and Xbox 1 gaming library is mostly filled with military shooters, racers, and the like, many gamers might get tired of it and buy a Wii U anyway for the new Mario's, Zelda's, etc.

The same thing can be said about Nintendo. People could be tired of the similar Mario, Zelda, and the like.

Edited by ImmortalSaiyan

I wanna play this game.

Posted by dablemont

Seems like an awesome game! I will get it when I buy a WiiU. But I'll wait till the console drops in price or I find one very cheap on Craiglist...

At least I can play Zelda: ALBW on the 3ds meanwhile!

Edited by beard_of_zeus

@jayeh said:

I want to buy a Wii U, but I can't justify spending $300 for only a couple of games that I want...

The system is slowly creeping to a point where there's enough exclusive games I want to play that I'll finally dive in. Right now, the list stands at 3D World, Pikmin 3, and Wonderful 101. I wish that Fire Emblem X SMT crossover or Xenoblade sequel would hurry up and get here, I'm very intrigued by both of those.

Posted by TheTerribleFamiliar

This is the game I wanted when the Wii U launched. It's slowly becoming a great system and I can't wait to add this game to my library on Friday. Looks like pure joy.

Posted by Pabba

Pssst, @patrickklepek, found a small error

It's not simply that World immediately benefits from a art direction that's flourished on technologically limited platforms, though.

Should be an art direction.

Posted by Doctor_Mummy

I'm happy to hear this game is rad. Looks like I'll have to buy a WiiU.....

Edited by Deathpooky

Going to be very tempting to get a Wii U this holiday while waiting for PS4/XB1 to get some games worth the purchase price.

Posted by MadsWare

@scaramoosh said:

I just cannot justify £40 on a game, I'll spend £20 for it, I just think £40 is too much these days. I can get all other games for £20 on PC, just sick of console prices, just so expensive, I can see why the PC is the most popular platform these days, I mean 32 million people watched that LoL match.........

Nintendo need to get with the times and start F2P games.

I got bioshock Infinite for £15, got Mass effect 3 for free lol, got Metro Last Light for £5... all games this year! I bet though that Nintendo game will stay the same price throughout its life. (yeh I know ME3 was 2012)

Why I'm sick of Nintendo.

I hope you are joking

Posted by patrickklepek

@pabba said:

Pssst, @patrickklepek, found a small error

It's not simply that World immediately benefits from a art direction that's flourished on technologically limited platforms, though.

Should be an art direction.

Thanks!

Staff
  • 190 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4