Super Mario 3D Land (3DS Review) by Daniele M.
Super Mario 3D Land
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release: November 13, 2011
November 21, 2011, by Daniele M. - Mario finally makes his debut on the Nintendo 3DS with Super Mario 3D Land. This title was officially unveiled at Nintendo's Keynote Conference during the Game Developers Conference 2011 which was held in San Francisco. Nintendo teased audiences with a few screenshots, at first looking rather similar to the likes of Super Mario 64 and to an extent Super Mario Galaxy. Nintendo concluded with a temporary title logo simply titled as 'Super Mario' with supporting evidence of Tanooki Mario making a triumphant return which was later confirmed to be the case at E3 2011.
Core Mario titles are notably known for unique overall locale (space travel in Mario Galaxy, Tropical Resort exploration in Super Mario Sunshine). Super Mario 3D Land takes the best from the past and present to offer a fresh new Mario experience. At first glance it may seem very much reminiscent to other Mario console outings. Yes, it very much is, though some interesting changes have been made this time around to set apart its similarities. Much like Mario's earlier appearances, in Super Mario 3D Land you start off as small, hatless Mario to only grow bigger in size thanks to Super Mushrooms collected. In Mario Galaxy you instead collect coins to increase Mario's health gauge.
Super Mario 3D Land compared to Super Mario Galaxy is rather small in scale, not necessarily meaning lack of content as there is much to explore in regards to finding secret Star Medals. In addition, completing the first set of worlds opens up many more worlds to venture forth into. Also, expect the odd surprise or two; I won't spoil for it those who haven't played the game yet.
Initially there are eight worlds, each sub stage within ranging from four to five with the addition of Toad houses to visit alongside Mystery Boxes and not forgetting Bowser Fortresses where Mario must defeat Bowser and fellow Koopa underlings. Toad houses basically offer Mario a randomised power-up. You can in fact skip Toad houses if for example you already have an active power-up equipped. The Mystery Block is something Nintendo incorporated in conjunction with StreetPass. If by any chance you pass by other Super Mario 3D Land players, you will send each other the last Mystery Box you played. Mystery boxes are randomized, and have you encounter enemies to be defeated under a set time limit – upon competition being rewarded with coins or even the rare appearance of a Star Medal. Toad houses also play a role in terms of StreetPass connectivity. Upon activation and meeting fellow Miis via wireless play mode of another game, on occasions you get gifts from them at Toad houses – a great little touch if you don't mind me saying.
Super Mario 3D Land does start of rather easy in difficulty so you may find yourself completely ignoring Toad houses. Not much of a surprise going by other Nintendo titles; the concept of helping the player in some form or another returns. Assist Blocks appear if you keep losing lives on the current stage. The Invincibility Leaf equips Mario with the Tanooki power-up and to top it all off, unlimited invincibility. The P-Wing instantly allows you to travel somewhere near the end Goal Pole if things get too much to handle beforehand.
As you would expect with any Mario game, the variety of worlds is welcoming, brimming with colour and not to forget the great supporting audio remixes of classic Mario tunes and new ones. Power-ups play a vital role in this particular title (as with every other Mario game), old favourites return like the Fire Flower. Fire Mario is a blast to use in Super Mario 3D Land, keeping your distance with enemies. Not that you need to, most iconic enemies are easily avoidable, or overcome by stomp or two.
There is one small issue I still have with Mario games since the arrival of the Galaxy series. The problem I currently have with Fire Mario is the sound effect that plays out when fireballs are being hurled. I'm all for modernism regarding aspects of the core Mario experience, be it new power-ups or gameplay mechanics. Regarding this case scenario I much rather prefer the retro fireball sound effect from the very first Super Mario Bros on the NES. Personal preference is how I would like to sum up my issue.
As mentioned before, gameplay is pretty much a mixture of past and present Mario titles, 2D & 3D -- best of both worlds. The inclusion of the Circle Pad is vital for precise control over Mario. By default Mario does not run – either the Y or X button will have Mario running. Maybe it's just me but I tend to constantly hold the run button down, jumping further distances and getting from point A to point B more quickly, to reach the Goal Pole – no Stars or Shines in sight, well the Starman power-up if that counts.
The ground pound, side somersault and long jump moves are of course present. Mario can now also do a forward roll. When in Tanooki form, instead of being able to roll Mario can string together tail whip attacks which does prove useful in some areas. Aside from the Tanooki power-up, the Propeller Box returns too. In essence this power-up has appearance in a previous Mario title; New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The only difference being a mushroom rather than a box. It's a handy power-up if not a needed item to progress.
What Super Mario 3D Land does best is to provide players the added sense of judgment in jumping from platform to platform or at times identifying secret accessible areas. From start to finish I played the whole game with 3D enabled, and I highly recommend it. Interestingly you can switch between two types of 3D illustrated by an icon on the lower left of the top screen. Either have platforms, enemies or Mario himself being closer to the screen to give the added 'pop-out' effect. The polar opposite which kind of has everything further out, but still offering the sense of 3D within the environment.
14/15 - Super Mario 3D Land has a great soundtrack. Old-time classics remixed with the addition of newly arranged tunes that suit the pace and theme of gameplay perfectly.
19/20 - Vibrant colours, overall a great looking game, artistically. Not on par with Super Mario Galaxy – it doesn't need to be.
23/25 - A somewhat easy game that will attract the more casual player but at the same time may disappoint hardcore fans. Many worlds and secrets to be uncovered.
39/40 - Tight controls thanks to the Circle Pad. Gameplay as a whole feels similar to other Mario games, which is a good thing.
95/100 - Super Mario 3D Land offers a great variety of environments to explore with the added intention to find Star Medals if one was curious to know what will be the reward in collecting all of them. There are secrets later in the game that truly justify a great overall score, all in all a great Mario package offering endless fun and charmingly grows on you to a point whereas you'll be humming the tunes all day long.