Nintendo's 'Super Mario 3D World' for Wii U.
Hey, look. Itsa' you-know-who. Everyone's favorite mushroom-chomping plumber gets catty as he returns to action in Super Mario 3D World for the Nintendo Wii U. Does Mario's classic gameplay hold up for a new generation? I dust up my blue overalls and warm up the old gaming thumbs to find out.
Super Mario 3D World's tale starts out the same way many Mario games do with the cast enjoying some quality time together until Bowser rears his adorably ugly head and messes things up. This time, though, Princess Peach is no damsel in distress and helps our heroes save the hapless Sprixie fairies that have been kidnapped - or is that fairy napped? - by the rambunctious Koopa king. Although heartwarmingly cute, the plot for Mario stories has always been as thin as George Costanza's hair. Instead, the story once again takes a backseat to the gameplay, which remains as good as ever.
Super Mario 3D World features classic Mario platforming that pays homage to the series' history while also adding some new twists. The influence of Super Mario Bros. 2 is especially noticeable. That means having Mario as your solid all-rounder and Luigi as your high jumper with slippery footing. Toad, meanwhile, trades in strength for speed while Peach, my favorite character in Super Mario Bros. 2, retains her ability to hover albeit with shorter range. Even the slot machine I mastered as a kid in Super Mario Bros. 2 returns with almost the same timing, meaning lots of extra lives for yours truly. Yes, I'm sure that'll impress all the girls.
While the old-school platforming remains solid, new additions such as the cat suit and character-cloning double cherry help keep things fresh and crazy. Gauging positioning can be difficult at times, especially in isometric mode, but the game does a great job of mixing 2D and 3D platforming overall.
In terms of presentation, the game emulates the classic 3D Mario look, which means colorful, pastel-style graphics and characters just dripping with cuteness. The cat suit, in particular, is just criminally adorable. Although the Wii U won't match the graphical prowess of the PS4 and Xbox One, Super Mario 3D World still looks great running at 720p at a silky 60 frames per second.
The Mario series has always been eminently great for repeat playthroughs and Super Mario 3D World is no different. In addition to finding hidden stars on each stage, the addition of four-player co-op helps make replaying the game a treat. There's nothing better than hearing shrieks and laughter explode in your living room while your brother does a handstand as Luigi on top of a palm tree or falls to his doom due to player sabotage as your sister-in-law lets out an evil cackle. He ain't getting no sympathy from me! The fact that each character has unique traits also adds to replayability by making the gameplay experience a bit different for each one. I only wish multiplayer wasn't limited to local couch co-op and included online matchmaking as well.
So, is this game for you? Well, unless you've been living under a Thwomp these last few decades, everyone pretty much knows what Mario games are all about. If you've never liked them, then Super Mario 3D World obviously won't change your mind. If you love old-school platforming, however, then this is a can't-miss game. Even if you think the last few Mario titles are starting to feel old, Super Mario 3D World has enough new and crazy stuff going on to make it worth trying out. It's easily one of the best renditions of 3D platforming and the Mario formula to date.
- Jason Hidalgo, RGJ