Tuesday 14 January 2014

Super Mario 3D World

In my review for Sonic: Lost World I detailed the problems Sega have had with trying to bring Sonic into the realm of 3D. It's a series that just doesn't make that transition that well at all. Mario on the other hand made that move perfectly with the Nintendo 64 classic, Mario64. Since then he has had plenty of 3D outings which have all played wonderfully. The latest instalment in the series, Super Mario 3D World, brings the action to the Wii U. However, as the Wii U's future remains uncertain due to terrible sales, is Super Mario 3D World worth the purchase?

The never ending yet always lovable rivalry of Mario and Bowser continues in Super Mario 3D World, and has Mario and his friends explore a whole new world. During a typical trip through the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad come across a clear pipe. And yeah, I know what you're thinking, “Mushroom Kingdom? Clear pipe? Is Mario getting off his face with magic mushrooms while hitting a bong?” But no, he's not. I know how suspect it sounds, but they're just going for a leisurely walk. It seems in the Mushroom Kingdom there's no bowling, arcades, bars or cinemas to enjoy, sadly. 

Anyway, a little fairy-like creatures appears out of the clear pipe only to have Bowser- big bad himself- pop out, capture her in a jar and disappear back down the pipe. It's funny though, without hesitation the first person to jump into the pipe after the captured fairy is Princess Peach. I guess she knows only too well what it's like to be captured by a giant green lizard, eh? Then and only then is Mario concerned, and understandably so as Peach is his on-again off-again girlfriend. Once into the pipe our heroes find themselves in Sprixie Kingdom, probably the best Mario world to date.

As expected with any typical Mario game, the world is initially presented as a mini-map. This mini-map not only fits into the narrative of what's going on in the story, but also helps you easily jump from level to level far more easily than any generic options screen is capable of. What makes this Mario title stand out however, is the fact that every single level- all 96 of them- contain something new, different and unexpected. It's these constant surprises that really make Super Mario 3D World outlast previous titles. It's always trying to reinvent itself, and the new addition of cat suits only proves this.

I know what you're thinking, “Cat suits? Really?” But hear me out before you start hurling Koopa Shells my way! The cat suit fundamentally changes gameplay, and lets our heroes run, scratch, pounce, air-dive and wall climb. This, apart from looking pretty cool, lets the player explore areas previously impossible to get to. Alongside collecting stars, stamps and finding all kinds of Nintendo treats and Easter eggs, this all comes together to create the Mario title with the most re-playability ever. It's awesome!

The visuals and level design are next to none, and are as beautiful as they are diverse. This even extends to our heroes, as never before have Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad had so much character and charming oozing from them. This is the first game in the series that while the focus is still on Mario, his friends are just as important. No longer are they background characters, but instead they're right there alongside him throughout the adventure, in the guise of player 2, 3 and 4.

Nintendo have always approached the Mario series in a simple yet perfectly refined way. Over the years it technically hasn't changed much, but has honed its gameplay to near perfection. Super Mario 3D World takes almost 30 years of trial, error and experience and tries to create the perfect Mario title. And you know what? If it weren’t for Mario 64, this would be the best Mario title to date. Buy it.

Super Mario 3D World gets a 1up with a 10/10.

Denis Murphy

Super Mario 3D World at CeX

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