Wii U Throwback: Super Mario 3D World Review
Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U is the successor to Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS. Both of these games can be described as a 3D Mario platform game that plays more like the traditional 2D style.
There's a different plot this time around. In this game, Bowser has kidnapped the Sprixie Princesses and it's up to Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad to rescue them. OK, at least we don't have to rescue Peach this time around.
Graphics / Music / Presentation
Super Mario 3D World has pretty solid graphics for the first 3D Mario platformer presented in high definition. It's nothing that will blow you away, but we do see nice textures with splendid lighting effects throughout the game. The music in 3D World doesn't exactly give off the traditional Mario feel - mostly in terms of jazzy beats.
Although this game is a 3D platformer, the analog control stick does not control how fast you run. It's necessarily to hold down the "run" button in order to get a boost. However, even with this boost, the gameplay is very sluggish and feels very slow paced. Controlling the pace using the analog stick is far more preferable than this implementation.
For the most part, the level design in Super Mario 3D World is very boxy with many rectangular platforms, there's no doubt that this is a linear game. You'll be primarily going from the start of the level to the flagpole with few deviations. Although there is a timer, it's rare you will ever run out of time before reaching the end. There are a variety of themed worlds, however nothing significantly stands out, though some boss battles show a little more creativity. Nintendo appears to have taken it safe in terms of the overall game design of Super Mario 3D World.
Clear pipes are a new addition and feature extensively - you can visually see your character navigate through these pipes, and in some areas there are pipe "junctions" which allow you to choose the way you want to go. Traditional pipes in the Mario universe are end-to-end and you have no control over where you are going.
Besides traversing each stage, there are a number of collectibles to be found. The main thing to collect is the 3 green stars in each standard stage, and there are a number of bonus stages with more green stars - 380 in all. It is necessary to collect green stars in order to progress further, so they can't entirely be ignored. There is also one stamp in each stage, it was possible to use these stamps in the Miiverse - however it has been shut down since 2017.
This game does use a couple of features unique to the Wii U Gamepad. Some blocks are movable by touching the screen, and also there are platforms that can be moved by blowing air into the gamepad's microphone. These features are also heavily used in the Captain Toad side quests which eventually led to the standalone game - Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
Difficulty wise, Super Mario 3D World is not overly challenging to complete. It can be a trek to collect all the green stars, stamps and get a gold flagpole with each character in each stage for 100% completion. There are also harder secret areas added in to challenge the most hardcore Mario fans.
If you love Mario power-ups, this is the game to play! The new Super Bell is Mario's latest power-up which gives him a cat suit. When he is a cat, there's a claw attack and the ability to climb up walls. If you're stuck somewhere, getting a Super Bell will usually solve most of your problems as Cat Mario is quite overpowered.
We are also introduced to the Double Cherry, which gives an extra clone - there are parts of stages that require multiple characters to activate some switches. Controlling these extra characters can be hard, but these levels feature ample walls and barriers to help you navigate. Other power-ups such as the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Boomerang Flower and Tanooki Leaf make return appearances.
Co-op is back - similar to New Super Mario Bros. U, up to four players can join the madness in an open space. When you have four players on the same screen it can be a bit wild, depending on the Mario platforming expertise each person has, it can either make the adventure much easier, or a nightmare if you keep running into each other's way.
Super Mario 3D World is a fun adventure and is a decent game, but it simply does not compare to other 3D titles like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 - it's more suited for fans of the traditional 2D platform games.
Given that New Super Mario Bros. U got the Deluxe treatment, it would be no surprise to see Super Mario 3D World ported to the Nintendo Switch next.