I cut my video gaming teeth on Mario games, starting with the first one on the NES. I haven’t missed a Mario since. After the last two Mario games, New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS) and New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U), I had some reservations about Super Mario 3D World. Though it didn’t carry the New tag in the title, many of the elements from those games were present. Thankfully, none of them were a detriment.
Each level of 3D World is inspired. I lost count of how many new or interesting ideas I came across, as nearly every level had a unique charm; the music level, where platforms appear or disappear in beat with the music, or a later level that has you chasing down the fleeing goal post from the start. What made these levels great were how rarely if at all these ideas were recycled. No concept came close to being run into the ground.
Every Mario game brings with it a unique power up. While I think they’ve been lacking in recent years, including the Galaxy games (Bee suit?), 3D World has one of the best one’s yet, Cat suit. The bell power-up turns players into cats, complete with the ability to scratch enemies, run up walls, or easily ascend the flag pole. Later versions of the bell add the ability to turn to stone a la the Tanooki Suit, making it the best power-up in years, or ever. The game also includes the Fire Flower, Star Man, Giant Mushroom (only seen 3-4 times), Tanooki suit (sans stone), and Boomerang um, shell. Hands down 3D world has the best collection of power ups since Super Mario Bros. 3. Adding to the insanity is the Cherry. Each Cherry adds a copy of your character. Up to 5 versions of yourself can be running around, all simultaneously under your control. Wrap your head around that.
The main feature is the 4-player co-op. Mario, Luigi, Toad, and finally, Peach, are all available. Each character has a uniqueness to them, reminiscent of Super Mario Bros 2, balancing play. A 5th unlockable character is also available, Rosalina, though she seems to be the weakest of the bunch. The co-op is handled well, with the screen following whoever is in the lead, dragging those lagging in bubbles. Fear not, for you can free yourself from your prison. This did cause a few frustrations when someone who was hell bent on suicide (my kids), would jump off the stage and we would be pulled in bubbles to their side, dying together. Exploring is damn near impossible unless everyone cooperates.
Collectibles have returned, but are fun instead of detrimental. Each stage, including boss levels, have three hidden green stars and a stamp. Only by collecting all of these, along with reaching the top of the flag pole on every stage, is the hidden last level unlocked. Getting there is easy, beating it… good luck.
I became excited to play 3D World as reviews came in because of the co-op, looking forward to playing it with my kids. Now my friends come over to try, having not played a Mario game in years. Seeing new, relapsed, or veteran players love the game shows how strong it is. Though I’m finished with it, having beaten all the levels, my girls play it everyday. If they’re anything like me, wait until they discover RPGs.
What was your favorite level? Power-up? Comment below!
World 1-1 is hereby known in my house as cat world.