We have played Super Mario 3D World online. How does it hang?
Revisiting Super Mario 3D World on Switch helps point out to me both how the world is wildly different now when compared to 2013 when the game first debuted on Wii U, and how much my own life has changed. We sit on the precipice of the release of the Switch port of Super Mario 3D World, which most notably adds Bowser’s Fury. That new mode is extremely promising, and from what I can talk about in the preview embargo, I feel like the most I can muster from that is a bunch of thumbs-up emojis and smiles. Check out John Rairdin’s bigger meditation on the new mode for more details.
I’m here, instead, to talk about the base game of Super Mario 3D World, which we gave a 10/10 to back in the day (and also an 8.5 and another 10 - holla at us if you want more reviews of major games). Personally, I’m not as high on 3D World as Justin Baker and Andrew Brown were back in the day, but I had a lot of fun with it. It’s inventive, colorful, and weird. The cat suit is amazing. The multiplayer is super fun. But 2013 was a time where I was in my mid-20s and had the ability to stay up late with friends playing video games on the couch. That was how I experienced the multiplayer then. I can’t really do that now.
Whether this was always the plan or hurriedly added because of COVID, Super Mario 3D World has online play. It functions more or less like the regular multiplayer and is very easy to hop into. While in the game, you press a button, hop into a menu, and either create or join a room. It’s worth calling out that the players are basically joining the host’s game. Ergo, progression is only done in one game. That’s a bit of a disappointment even if I can understand the logic of it. Still, the sheer fun of the multiplayer wins out overall. Outside of the existence of the online, the Captain Toad stages are newly multiplayer as well. In the original release, they were, somewhat awkwardly, single-player only. Here, everyone controls their own member of the Toad Brigade and separately explores the level. The levels are otherwise unchanged and it makes this multiplayer chaotic and goofy, especially since one player controls the camera. The person who controls the camera in this multiplayer controls the game. If anything, this multiplayer makes me long for a deliberately made multiplayer Captain Toad game.
I had the chance to play a few levels online with reps from Nintendo and another journalist, and it ran close to flawlessly. A substantial caveat is required because everyone playing was using a wired connection, but even my brief time playing handheld online worked well. Considering my personal poor experiences with Super Mario Maker 2 in online play, the experience in 3D World was uplifting. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to relive my 2013 memories via online play with friends, because I don’t think anything’s changing soon to make hanging out sharing close contact with video game controllers an acceptable thing to do with people outside your immediate family.
That being said, since my mid-20s 3D World-playing days, I had a child. He’s a toddler, ever so slowly knocking on the door of the age of 3. He’s not exactly going to play 3D World with aplomb, but still, he loves Mario and my multiplayer experiences with him have been tough but amusing. He’s got decent controller-holding form, but his concept of moving and jumping in 3D space isn’t quite there yet. Still, carrying him through early levels in 3D World was a unique challenge. It’s a far cry from the multiplayer I experienced on Wii U, but it’s still endearing.
Once more people try out the online with varying internet speeds and connectivity, maybe there’s a chance this online is revealed to be rough around the edges, but so far, so good. I’m encouraged by what I’ve experienced so far and feel optimistic about playing this with friends when it launches on February 12.