The Wii U is getting a new lease on life thanks to the slew of new releases that started off with Pikmin 3. The Wii U releases of the year ended with the biggest of them all; Super Mario 3D World. Mario got his HD feet wet with New Super Mario Bros. U at launch, but it wasn't what people were expecting. Now, with Super Mario 3D World the plumber is back on the Wii U for a second run this time made for Wii U. It's in the same line as 3D Land and shares a lot of things with it. Can Mario move the Land to the World during his 3D domination? Or will he find the world too hard of a thing to handle in 3D?
It's goes without saying when speaking of Mario, but the story here doesn't matter. It's just a shallow reason to get Mario to go through the game and that's all it needs to be. It allows more focus to be put on the gameplay and that's Mario's way. Bowser is at it again and steals the seven fairies that rule the Sprixie Kingdom and it's up to Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad to save them. It's neat that you get to play as multiple characters in a 3D Mario game and it's especially cool that one of them is Peach herself.
As I mentioned, the game has a lot in common with Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS and that includes the gameplay style. It's like a mix between the 2D and 3D Mario games in that you traverse the stage in order to make it to the flagpole at the end, but you do so in a 3D world. The stages are linear like in old games and this allows the level design to shine through. Just like in Super Mario 3D Land, you need to hold a button to run and after running for a tiny stretch, you'll get a boost of speed. You gain power-ups, like any Mario game, and all of the power-ups from 3D Land make a return along with a few new ones.
The most advertised new power-up is the Cat Suit. The Cat Suit lets you climb up walls for a little bit and allows you to attack. If you hold the attack button in the air, you'll do a lunge that allows to travel farther. The other new powers work well and all add to the level design. It's not new anymore, but the level design still shines and the gameplay is still a complete joy to experience. The bosses are cool, though there are only a few special ones, but the game can be far to easy. You get plenty of lives throughout the game and they make up for all your deaths.
There are plenty of secrets and each other characters behaves differently. Mario is your standard and is all around good. Luigi jumps higher than his brother, he has less traction and his jump is a little floaty. Peach runs slower than both Mario and Luigi, but she floats after her jump for longer than Luigi does and Toad runs faster than everyone else. The game treats each character fairly and no one character benifits over the others, but it's much easier to reach the top of the flagpole with either Peach or Luigi. Every level is able to be completed by any character and it's fun to switch around when playing by yourself, which is still extremely enjoyable.
You can play the game with up to four people, similar to New Super Mario Bros. Wii and U, and it can get pretty crazy the more people there are. It plays out similarly to the New Mario Bros. series in that each player gets a power-up and your friends become hazards as well. Each level has a Miiverse stamp and three green stars hidden throughout and they can be enjoyable to track down. Some stages might require multiple times through to get everything and it's fun to beat every stage with every character. Overall, it's still the same amazingly fun Mario with a lot of stages and things to do, including racing ghosts thanks to Miiverse. It's still as enjoyable as Mario has ever been and that's all the praise you need to really hear.
The music is the most epic a Mario game's soundtrack has ever been. Mario and friends make sounds like usual and they are all familiar, but it is truly the music that steals the stage here. They are of the highest quality in the Mario franchise and they are beyond fitting. They are catchy and are very well done, it's some awesome stuff.
I think it goes without saying, but Mario looks better than ever here. The environments are amazing to look at and it seems to reuse The Wind Waker HD's lighting engine, making it fantastic. Everything is bright, colorful and well detailed. The trees look fluffy, as does the cat suit. The stages are still designed in that 3D Land, disjointed way and it still looks great. The animations are still great and let me say, the final stage is really cool to witness thanks to the new HD visuals. The game runs at a smooth place, only falling at one instance in the game and it might be intentional. It's one of the Wii U's best looking games and it's only going to get better. Nintendo has a bright future ahead of itself, a bright HD future.
- Fatnastic level design
- Amazing music
- Gameplay is pure joy
- Bosses are fun
- A lot of stages to explore and secrets to find
- Four playable characters all have a different feel to them
- Four player Co-Op is pretty fun, if a little chaotic
- Visuals are charming from start to finish
- Beautiful lighting
- Miiverse integration is enjoyable
- Way too easy
Overall, Super Mario 3D World is the game Wii U owners were waiting for. Not only that, it's one of the most enjoyable games released all year. It's a well crafted, beautiful, fun and pure game and shows that the platformer is far from dead and it's mostly thanks to Nintendo. If you own a Wii U, go buy this game. If you were waiting for a reason to buy a Wii U, go buy this game. If you are even slightly interested in Mario, go buy this game. This just might be the game that'll help the Wii U get back on it's feet. The 3D Land formula translates perfectly to the World.