The 3DS came out this year and has been met with many tough challenges overcome including a 250 dollar price, missing features and a weak game lineup. Since then, Nintendo has lowered the price of the hardware, added new functionality with Netflix and eShop, and now they’re charging into the holidays with 2 new platform exclusive Mario game. The first of these titles is now available, but after setting the bar so high with the Wii Super Mario Galaxy games, can Nintendo capture that same magic of a new Mario platformer in 3D, well the short answer is yes.
You should know how the game starts by now, Bowser kidnaps the Princess Peach, and you as Mario has to go save her. The major twist in this game is that at the beginning of the storm blows all the leaves off a magic Tanooki tree spreading them throughout the kingdom, bestowing the iconic Tanooki tail from Super Mario Bros. 3 to Bowser and many of his minions. But fret not, Mario can use the tanooki super leaf as well to float and tail swipe blocks and enemies, also returning are the fire flower, star power, stone leaf, star, Propeller Box and P Wing. The only new power up to the game is the Boomerang flower that allows you to throw… eh, well boomerangs obviously, it can hit enemies and grab coins and other power ups from far away. Even with a new power up, the tanooki super leaf power up is still the star of the show.
The game itself plays like a hybrid of the classic Game Boy game, Super Mario Land (available on the eShop for 3DS) and Super Mario Galaxy. Every level is a fairly linear trip from point A to point B, with secret paths and shortcuts sprinkled about reveling 1ups, power ups, or one of the 3 hidden coins required to progress to the final stages of each of the 8 worlds. The controls are like a 3D Mario game with the game controlling the camera for you to giving you the best view for platforming and to show off the stereoscopic 3D effect. The game very wisely avoids mandatory use of the 3D effect, but I actually found that judging the distance was much easier with the 3D turned on. My only issue with the 3D rest with the hardware demanding a very narrow viewing angle to have the effect. This issue isn’t the game’s fault, but it doesn’t change the frustration you may have when you miss a jump because you shifted the system just outside of the viewing angle of the system and the game screen doubles. Still, whenever I turned off the 3D effect, I had to turn it right back on because I actually missed it. I’ve played a few games in 3D on consoles and 3DS, Super Mario 3D Land’s is the first game I have ever played where I didn’t want to play the game without the 3d turned on.
Production wise, this game looks great, characters animate and express with the Nintendo quality you expect, and at a few points, I felt the game looked better than anything on Wii. The audio fires on all cylinders as well mixing new and old music with the perfect touch of retro nostalgia. Nintendo has also included some Street pass content in the form of mystery boxes, short little challenge stages that require the player to complete a simple task and collect the rewards in less than 10 seconds. The core game to save the princess is kind of a pushover and clocks at about 4 to 6 hours depending on how adventurous you are, but you can easily triple the length in the far more challenging post game content, I will leave it as a surprise.
For 3DS owners, this game is a must buy that showcases the best of the hardware and is a genuine Mario platformer that ranks among the series best. For those looking to a reason to buy a 3DS, this game is actually an awesome reason to pick one up for the holidays. Does that mean I’m calling this game a killer app, tough to say… but I do think it’s pretty great.
Release Date: November 13, 2011