Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Super Mario 3D Land

As far as video game franchises go, does it really get any bigger than Super Mario? Our favourite iconic plumber returns in glorious fashion but this time, he has more to do on his agenda than simply rescue Princess Peach. Nintendo have stated in the past that the first Super Mario game to be released on Nintendo 3DS will be the first proper representation of what their 3D handheld is capable of. So inevitably Mario sets out on a new adventure in Super Mario 3D Land that encompasses everything we know and love about Mario, while at the same time adding a few fresh touches to keep this trip to the Mushroom Kingdom, another thoroughly entertaining one.


Super Mario 3D Land begins with yet another plot device as an excuse for Bowser to kidnap Princess Peach. After a wild storm hits the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario finds a letter next to a special tree standing on Princess Peach’s land. Not only has the Princess disappeared but also the magical leaves from the tree were blown away, granting Tanooki power to anyone lucky enough to touch these leaves. Of course Mario and his buddies aren’t best pleased with the situation and so begins your journey to rescue the Princess and save Mushroom Kingdom.

Your journey spans across a variety of themed worlds from Mario’s classical heritage, all the way through to modern environments. You will be required to travel to these locations and collect Star Coins to unlock new stages and progress to new worlds. Super Mario 3D Land does an excellent job at pacing your experience, with special stages and boss battles mixed nicely into the regular platforming action. The platforming itself has been designed remarkably well with Shigeru Miyamoto describing the game as a “mix between Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 64.” Your goal is to reach the flagpole at the end of each level before the timer runs out -- sounds simple doesn’t it? Unfortunately through the beginning levels it actually is relatively simple, but sticking with Super Mario 3D Land to the latter portion of the game reveals a thoroughly challenging and engaging set of levels that will make any fan of Mario or platforming in general, squeal with delight.

Despite modern elements of Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario 3D Land plays predominately like classic Mario games. Fluid controls thanks to the 3DS’s circle pad makes moving Mario simple and fun. Throughout your adventure you will come across plenty of lovable bad guys, interesting puzzles and cool power-ups. What’s a Mario game without a few fire-flowers and mushrooms? Well Super Mario 3D Land adds a few other cool toys to play with, including the classic Tanooki Suit – allowing Mario to hover in mid-air and bash enemies with a cute tail. A hard-shelled suit is also available, giving players access to a boomerang, which can be used not only as a weapon, but a hook to grab hard-to-reach goodies. Even invincibility items have been included called The Invincibility Leaf and P-Wing for that extra hand in case you get seriously stuck. These along with other nifty surprises thrown into the mix make Super Mario 3D Land’s platforming feel fresh and exciting.


Inevitably we were going to discuss the 3D elements of Super Mario 3D Land. Claiming that this will be the title to make full and optimal usage of 3D technology was a brave statement from Nintendo, but for the most part it is fairly accurate. While Super Mario 3D Land can be played completely in 2D without any problems at all, the level design has been created with 3D in mind. Depth perception, aerial sections and Mario’s power-ups all look stunning with 3D turned on. The 3DS’s gyro technology is also implemented for binocular segments in the game, allowing Mario to locate Toads to earn additional goodies. With other Nintendo 3DS games you normally hear the same old line “the 3D does nothing to enhance the experience,” – Super Mario 3D Land is an example of a game built from the ground up with 3D at the heart of development. It’s such a fantastic game that you will enjoy it in 2D, but there are moments here, magical moments that you will miss, unless you have 3D turned on.

Super Mario 3D Land also ensures not to leave you by yourself and implements some level of player interaction. Since all levels are timed and recorded, you can battle it out for best completion in both normal levels and the various challenge rooms available. Street Pass is also enabled allowing players to exchange items in challenge cubes. All of this lets you engage with other 3DS owners and spurs on friendly competition, adding replay value to an already plentiful game.

Every single time a new Mario game comes out I always ask myself “how on earth are they going to make it different this time, surely they’ve run out of ideas by now?” Every single time, I’m wrong. Super Mario 3D Land takes the best from Mario’s past and modern exploits and rolls them into a specially designed, 3D package. This is everything you love about Nintendo’s iconic franchise, bundled in a beautiful, easy-to-use and refreshing manner – the gameplay is fun, the 3D is important and the replay value is high. Super Mario 3D Land is the staple platformer for any Nintendo 3DS owner this holiday period.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Super Mario 3D Land has a variety of different worlds to explore, each with their own unique stages, puzzles, challenges and boss battles. On top of this, the mirroring challenge worlds help step up the difficulty, giving hardcore Mario fans even more to obsess about. Lots of fantastic power-ups and clever level design makes you want to keep playing just to see the next thing you have to tackle.

9.5 | Presentation |
Built with 3D in mind, Super Mario 3D Land is a beautiful game full of vibrant colours and fantastic characters. I keep going back to level design, but it’s truly what makes Mario games so unique, especially considering how well the 3D is implemented. To an extent, Super Mario 3D Land is its own worst enemy because the level design is so good, you could play with 3D turned off and still have a remarkable experience.

9.0 | Replay Value |
Plenty of replay value and it’s very easy to become obsessed with collecting all the Star Coins and getting everything out of this game, including a certain green-capped brother. Competitive elements also help keep you interacting with other 3DS console owners. Street Pass lets you get involved with people who don’t even own Super Mario 3D Land.
9.0 | Final Thoughts |
Super Mario 3D Land is the staple platformer for Nintendo 3DS – it is beautifully designed and executed with perfection. Everything about this game suggests care and attention to detail and you will feel the love and affection Nintendo have for Mario when you play every single level in Super Mario 3D Land. It’s an absolute testament to how a series can keep coming back feeling reinvigorated and fresh – Nintendo are simply the masters of taking the old and launching it into the modern era of gaming.

Igor Kharin.





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