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Super Mario 3D World Review

by Andrew Brown - November 29, 2013, 5:46 am EST
Total comments: 9


A world of difference over the 3DS game.

When I was a kid playing Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario World on my SNES, I was fascinated by the manuals that came included with Nintendo games of the era. Rather than the lazy black and white screen­ captures of pixelated items, alongside poorly­-translated descriptions that were normal for SomE GAmes (subliminally sublime, eh?), Nintendo manuals more often than not were tomes of beautiful artwork, entertaining back stories and multi-page enemy indexes.

Thumbing through hand­-drawn renditions of Chargin' Chuck, colorful charts showing power­up hierarchies and the complete world map of Dinosaur Land, I would often think to myself; Some day, Mario games will match these drawings. We'll be able to play games that look so perfect that it's almost like playing this art, the way these pictures represent Mario's world, the way it's meant to be. Super Mario 3D World brought memories of those daydreams flooding back, and made me realize I was playing the reality of my childhood imagination. Welcome to Mario's world, 3D Land was just the beginning.

The game manages to successfully combine the best ingredients from every game the series has given us in the last thirty years of its existence, paying tributes to elements I didn't even know were sorely missed. Most obviously is that the latest adventure can now be played with up to five players. Four can jump into the game as one of Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach (and of course Rosalina, but I won't whine about that Nintendo Direct here), and a fifth player can use the GamePad as an unseen assistant who can touch the levels to uncover secrets, bash blocks, restrain enemies and even blow certain enemies off their feet via the microphone. You need not be concerned about the single­ player experience being any less of a focus however. Regardless of how many players there are, each type of play – single, two, three-player, etcetera, holds its own unique merits and all are a blast to experience.

Despite not playing as Toad or Peach since the days of the NES, I was taken aback by how familiar they played. The jumping and speed mechanics are so spot-­on to the physics in Super Mario Bros. 2 that you'd almost forget it's been nearly three decades since the last time the whole gang adventured together like this. Each character is also diverse enough to require fine-tuning your playing style, making multiple playthroughs of the game just different enough each time.

The game's levels are a pure joy to navigate, capturing the true essence of a 2D Mario adventure in a 3D space in such a way that 3D Land before it could only vaguely touch upon. Each stage is creatively built and features memorable elements that sets it apart from the others, no two levels feel like simply “more of the same”, even the multiple steam train levels found throughout 3D World have their own quirky twists. The soundtrack is another particular high note, taking some cues from games before it and expanding them into booming orchestral themes, whilst also dishing out plenty of catchy new tunes. You won't find any New Super Mario Bros. “bah”s in this game!

Much like in the original Super Mario World, some of the classic enemies are replaced with strange new Sprixie Kingdom variations. Flying Dry Bones and Snow Pokeys? It feels both nostalgic and fresh at the same time. If I had one complaint to make, it would be that the boss battle standard is starting to show signs of age. Hisstocrat, the snake­like boss shown in trailers, is a great step in the right direction with some interesting new mechanics, but it's still the same old “three stomps and it's over.” Likewise, one appearance of Boom Boom or Prince Bully is plenty for the game to establish their presence, but they show up repeatedly with very minor difference in execution. I would have adored seeing 3D battles with Bowser's Koopaling kids, their individual tricks being applied in creative new ways. Fortunately, you have hands down the coolest final boss sequence in any Mario game ever to look forward to, which completely outweighs any mediocrity of the bosses before it. I won't reveal spoilers, it's up to you to play it and find out.

Not since Super Mario World on the SNES has a game felt so chock-­full of hidden bonuses. I won't reveal the specifics, but Rosalina really is just the tip of the iceberg. Added to that are the often minuscule hidden Luigis I mentioned in my feature, which give you no reward beyond a smile to discover and serve no purpose other than a cool little Year of Luigi send off.

I want to personally shake the hand of whomever it was at Nintendo who came up with the idea of collectible stamps to use in Miiverse posts, it's such a simple feature but the practicality makes such sense to the Wii U's design, and I greatly look forward to seeing this feature implemented into many new games to come.

Super Mario 3D World is thoroughly enjoyable any way you look at it. If this is the new standard for Mario, any doubts about Nintendo's future are quickly laid to rest.


  • Fun GamePad features and Miiverse stamps
  • Gorgeous visuals and music
  • Many great new items and ideas
  • More secrets than any Mario game before it
  • Smooth, nostalgic Mario action
  • Still waiting for 3D Koopaling battles...


Art_de_CatNovember 29, 2013

It has a ton of secrets, but unlike the luigis' or stamps, the vast majority of them weren't worth the trouble to find.  I do like it more than the 3ds game.  Liked the train and tank parade levels.

Chad SexingtonNovember 29, 2013

From watching Twitch streams, I think a negative worth noting that isn't mentioned in this review is that unlike Mario 3D Land, this game lacks actual 3D to help you judge jumps.  Simply hitting a question mark floating in the air (not next to a wall) or stomping on a goomba seemed like a chore or led to some deaths.  It shouldn't really take 2-3 attempts to hit a block, but from the forced perspective for a platformer in a 3D space, it just happened all the time.

I almost never played 3D Land with 3D on, so I doubt that'll be a problem for me, but I can see how it might be a problem for people who got used to that.

MagicCow64November 29, 2013

I had a similar problem during my initial run through the game, but after my brain rewired itself sufficiently to process this presentation of 3D space, it was a non-issue. At this point levels that I thought were crazy-hard on initial play-through are now far less difficult. Except for Champion's Road, which I tried for an hour today in 2-player and still find nuts.

azekeNovember 29, 2013

Yep, i also found myself missing stereo 3d because i kept missing my jumps here and there. I think this is a strong counterpoint to people who said 3d didn't add anything to platforming in 3d land.

As always in life you only notice how important things to you only when they're taken away...

It's funny that this is a pretty good advertisement for the benefit of stereoscopic 3D now that Nintendo's basically given up on promoting that feature.

RazorkidNovember 30, 2013

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

It's funny that this is a pretty good advertisement for the benefit of stereoscopic 3D now that Nintendo's basically given up on promoting that feature.

That may be, but they are still masters at implementing it in most if not all their 1st party releases ( ALBW is a good example of that).  I ,too, agree that this game would have made the learning easier had there been Stereoscopic 3D.  But like MagicCow64 said, after the first world I was able to acclimate myself to the perspective and have no issues now.

I would give this a 10 as well. I loved 3D Land and this game is what Galaxy 2 is to Galaxy for me.

Ian SaneDecember 02, 2013

So this weekend we were celebrating the birthday of my only friend that owns a Wii U, so we gave the multiplayer for this a go.  It was nothing special and frankly, aside from the birthday boy, we all got pretty bored pretty quickly.  Now maybe he picked the lesser levels to go through or he "led" too far ahead and didn't give us a chance to take things in.  But it just felt like going through the motions to get to the exit.  Now I didn't really like the multiplayer in NSMB Wii much either as I enjoyed that game more single player.  But in that case my beef was with the constant deaths due to people accidently killing each other.  This was just dull.  We then switched to Pikmin 3 which thankfully was a blast.

Maybe I would enjoy the game much more in single player.  But after my first impression I don't even know if I would buy it IF I had a Wii U.  It came across as a "greatest hits" of Mario clichés.  Nothing surprised me.  Again, it was just multiplayer so I'm not going to claim I have an accurate impressions but, so far, a perfect 10 score seems like a ridiculous overrating.

smallsharkbigbiteDecember 04, 2013

I don't know if this would help you, but I like to do this with some games I have initial dissapointment with.

Sometimes I've found I don't like a game because of the mood I'm in or because I had expectations and the game wasn't what I expected.  I will try to put the game down for a few weeks and then go back with no expectatikns and make sure I put in some time with it. There are several games I've done this with and came really enjoying the experience.

I've not playef multiplayer with this title. My guess is its not much different than single player but others could talk to that. I'm not sure what levels you played. Like most Marios this game starts blander with less exploration and then builds up.

I think you should hook up with your friend around Christmas and at least get through the first three worlds before writing it off. Maybe that won't change your opinion. Not everyone will like this game. If I had to rate it, I'd rate it 8-9. I think it oozes quality that you should see if you make it that far. But maybe not, either way I don't think its worth arguing that somebodies opinion that the game is great is worth arguing.

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Game Profile

Super Mario 3D World Box Art

Developer Nintendo
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Super Mario 3D World
Release Nov 22, 2013
jpn: Super Mario 3D World
Release Nov 21, 2013
RatingAll Ages
eu: Super Mario 3D World
Release Nov 29, 2013
aus: Super Mario 3D World
Release Nov 30, 2013

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