Super Mario 3D World | Publisher – Nintendo | Platform – Wii U
As Mario now approaches his mid-30’s does this aging franchise still have a place amongst the gaming elite? He seen off the competition before. Let’s be honest, Sonic has seen better days and whilst Bubsy the Bobcat and Crash Bandicoot, to name just a few, have forced to take early retirement. There stands Mario, with is ever faithful band of comrades, standing tall in a celebration of everything that gaming should be. This is a masterpiece, Super Mario 3D World is above all else, FUN.
The story begins with Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach (who for once has not fallen victim to the evils whims of Bowser!) exploring the Mushroom Kingdom when they come across a strange clear pipe. It is from this said pipe that a Sprixie emerges, imagine a rather odd looking fairy and you may have some idea what a Sprixie looks like. Suddenly, Bowser appears, captures there new found friend and disappears through the pipe. Our heroes give chase and our adventure begins.
Those familiar with Super Mario Bros. 3 will have some idea of the layout of each world, of which there are seven and of course a few bonuses at the end with I am certainly not going to spoil for you. The aim is to guide our heroes through various levels located within each world until the eventual showdown with one of Bowser’s minions. Once defeated, a Sprixie is freed and it’s on to next the world, rinse and repeat until the final showdown with Bowser himself. Defeat him and glory will bestowed upon you and legendary status achieved and what fun you are going to have in the process.
The goal remains the same, make it to end of each stage, raise the flag triumphantly and it’s onto the next. Each world acts a hub, anyone familiar with Super Mario Bros 3 will appreciate the layout. It offers a little more freedom to explore but, essentially progress is made by completing various levels along a set path. Whilst the layout remains familiar it is the sheer variety on offer that truly astounds. From using a large dinosaur as a makeshift surfboard to playing though an entire level when all one can see is shadows. It never becomes tiresome. New ideas are constantly thrown at you. You truly get the sense that the designers were given free reign. Some stages will require the use of the touch pad, some will have rushing frantically. Nothing feels overused or drawn out.
The graphics and attentional to detail are genuinely stunning. Colours are bright and bold. Everything feels solid and purposeful. This not design over substance, a world has been created that you would want to spend a serious amount of time exploring. Accompanying the excellent visuals is the superb soundtrack. Each level has its own composition which sets the tone perfectly. It is a true assault of on your senses.
Those who have experienced past games from the Mario franchise will recognise elements from previous titles. Mushrooms and fire flowers, to name just a few, make a welcome return. The introduction of the new cat suit is a stroke of genius. The ability to scamper up walls opens up a whole new dimension. The cherry power up, which also makes its debut, is quite simply hilarious. Collect one of these and your chosen character duplicates. There is now two on screen for you to control. This can be stacked so, potentially, there can be up to five clones all running around at the same time. Each one mimicking the movements of the other. Add the multiplayer aspect to this and it becomes truly chaotic.
There are four characters on offer, with a secret fifth hidden later on for you to unlock. Each with their own abilities. Mario, the typical all-rounder. Luigi and his super high jump. Princess Peach and her ability to float and of course Toad, who is quicker than the rest. Your chosen character can be changed at the start of each level. This makes changes to the play style seamless. Using extra Wii remotes the game supports up to four players. You can either work together as a team or make each level a flat out race to the finish. If someone has rushed ahead and your character falls off screen the game compensates for this by allowing you to catch up in the form of a bubble. You are magically transported back onto the screen and a simple button press and you’re back into the fray.
There is so much on offer here that you will certainly get value for money. Each level has three green stars and a magic stamp to collect. The latter is used when posting messages using Nintendo’s Miiverse. These can be genuinely tricky to find and will take real skill to find them all. Couple this with excellent controls, manic multiplayer and enough hidden surprises to put most games to shame. Nintendo have, once again, outdone themselves. Super Mario 3D World is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word.
Reviewer – Mr Baddog
Super Mario 3D World is out now for Nintendo Wii U