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Review

Super Mario 3D Land Review

  • First Released Nov 13, 2011
    released
  • Reviewed Nov 9, 2011
  • 3DS

Super Mario 3D Land eases you in with creative level design and tight controls while leaving plenty of challenging content to be discovered.

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Mario is one of the hardest-working men in video games. Whether he's competing in the Olympics or exploring outer space, this gaming icon stays busy. Super Mario 3D Land puts the plumber though his paces with yet another search-and-rescue mission to find a missing princess. Along the way it successfully translates the classic, 2D Mario feel into a 3D setting that feels unique from the series' other 3D releases. Some of the game's other features fall disappointingly short of this creative mark, but you’re still left with a fun-filled platformer loaded with content.

In classic Mario fashion, Super Mario 3D Land starts with a kidnapping. Princess Peach has been captured yet again by Bowser, and Mario is the only one who can save her. Your journey takes you through eight themed worlds ranging from deep seas to dusty deserts. Each is loaded with inventive stages that keep you excited to see what lies beyond. These include the five regular stages, a boss stage, and a few special stages. Some of these are locked initially, requiring you to collect star coins--the game’s lone collectable--to access them.

The boss stages almost always have this requirement and take you through the lava-filled castles and high-flying airships of Mario's past. Both of these locations have their own mini-boss encounters waiting at the end: either a battle-on-the-bridge showdown with Bowser or a brawl with some wannabe Koopalings. There are also some familiar special stages, like item-granting mushroom houses and unique mystery boxes. The mystery boxes can reward Mario with additional items--or even star coins--if you can complete the objective before time runs out.

No matter where you are in the game, playing it is a delight, thanks to the tight, simple controls afforded by the 3DS’s circle pad. This means reaching the flagpole won't take you long throughout the first half of Super Mario 3D Land. Stages are designed around a specific linear pathway, unlike the more free-form 3D stages of Super Mario Galaxy 2. This shifts your focus from exploration to speed and execution. In many ways the stages are more reminiscent of the classic, 2D Mario games and do an excellent job of translating their platforming challenges into a 3D environment. The game even encourages speedy runthroughs by recording your best time in each one and displaying it against the other player accounts on your cart.

A special variant of the tanooki suit lets Mario transform into a statue for a brief time.
A special variant of the tanooki suit lets Mario transform into a statue for a brief time.

The fan-favorite tanooki suit also makes its triumphant transition from the 2D era. This item quickly makes up for lost time by being nearly everywhere in the game. It lets Mario slow his midair descent by wagging his little raccoon tail. Several enemies also sport puffy, brown tails, though this hardly changes their attack patterns. Other items include a new boomerang suit that, as you may have guessed, lets Mario throw boomerangs to dispose of enemies at a distance or collect hard-to-reach items. The propeller box from New Super Mario Bros. Wii is also available for when Mario needs a vertical boost.

However, these items pale in comparison to the game's two special assistance items: the invincibility leaf and the p-wing. The invincibility leaf appears after you've failed five times on a stage and grants Mario the white tanooki suit. While wearing this suit, Mario cannot be harmed--unless he falls off the screen--and the effects last until the stage is cleared. The p-wing is unlocked after 10 failures. This item sends Mario straight to the end of the stage. Of course, using these items is completely optional; the game doesn't force them upon you. They also won't appear in stages you've already completed, or in the challenge stages unlocked after the game's completion.

These challenge stages are divided up into worlds that mirror the game's original eight. Some are slight variations, while others are completely unique. Collectively, they raise the game's difficulty with more challenging layouts and carry with them a few extra surprises, including a certain unlockable brother. One feature that doesn't add much to the experience is 3D. The effect is purely optional, meaning the 3D is pure eye candy with minimal impact on the gameplay. At its best, the effect adds a neat sense of depth when you're underwater or a touch of vertigo in the air. But these tricks have been used before, and it would have been nice to see this new feature used in more interesting ways.

The 3D effect is put to good use when submerged in water.
The 3D effect is put to good use when submerged in water.

Some of the other features also lack creativity. With StreetPass, you can restock your exhausted mushroom houses and challenge cubes simply by passing other 3DS users, even if they don't have the game. This makes it especially easy to rack up star coins, since the challenge cubes are generally a breeze to complete. The gyrometer is used at binocular stations in certain stages. These stations let you search out hidden toads that shriek with delight and throw star coins or other power-ups at you. Despite the fact these features lack the imagination seen in the game’s level design, Super Mario 3D Land is still a delight. With well-realized stages and responsive controls, it's an easy recommendation for all action-loving 3DS owners.

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The Good
Well-crafted stages for all skill levels
Simple, responsive controls
Player-assistance items are great in a pinch
Invokes 2D Mario in a 3D world.
The Bad
Limited StreetPass and gyrometer features.
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
18 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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TylerBR97

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This game was incredibly easy and short. Got all 5 stars on my file in about 10-14 hours.


This was probably my least favorite Mario platformer. Some levels simply weren't fun, some levels were incredibly short, and it was overall forgettable. The best levels were probably in World 8 which, still, were not very difficult. Plus, the lack of something new and special like the cat suit from 3D World, badly affected my opinion. Nothing felt brand new. I'd give it a 6-7/10

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bdiddytampa

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<< LINK REMOVED >> 8.0 is a really good score... 3D land is a great game, but it seems to be lacking that wow factor that previous Mario games have been so good at. Would love to see a 3DS Mario game in the same vein as SM64 or Sunshine, I really like that type of level design and gameplay. Only just got a 3DS a few days ago and am really happy I picked this game up :-) This kind of Mario game fits perfect for a handheld, and the 3DS is by far the best handheld out right now.

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rushiosan

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This is one of the most inventive Super Mario games I've played so far. It's amazing how the 3D effect adds so much to the experience.

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mr_gibberish

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I really love this game but the only thing that gets me with this is there seems to be no consistency to the theme with levels and worlds. I mean I am sure back in the day not including Mario 64 all the worlds in Mario were set to a certain theme. What I mean is you have a desert world say for example, so obviously all the levels in that particular world would be themed with the desert and so on. But in this levels seem mixed together with no real world feel to them, just a set of levels one after the other. Mario 64 is different in a way because even though you can run around the castle and you end up playing a variety of different themed levels there are no worlds so to speak.

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mamelon2012

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The game is very well polished and plays great, but my biggest complaint is lack of depth and any type of difficulty. Im only in world 2 level 3 and I have 44 extra lives (making them meaningless).


A lot of people are saying this is way better than mario 64, but you cant compare apples to oranges here.

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matthova

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Yea SM64 was a classic and clearly above this game

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cva9999

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Limited StreetPass and gyrometer features? Don't you guys bitch when there is gimmicky features and now you want it? Make up your damn minds.

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Waldospeople

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Innovative game. I really enjoyed this one but found it too easy. Nothing beats the feel of the old titles like Super Mario World for the SNES.

<< LINK REMOVED >>

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sniphunter

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the game is pretty easy but still its loads of fun!!!!!!!!!! \(^_^)/

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Deinbeck

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Looks boring and easy.

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mrzisawesome

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The game is basically built around the 3D, playing without is a disadvantage. It adds tremendously.

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The_Gaming_Baby

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I actually died a few times because of the lack of 3D. It led to some easily avoidable mistakes

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khoofia_pika

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@JosephPadula There's much more after World 4. It may not be part of the main game, but it's waaaaaay more fun, with better level design amped difficulty. People wouldn't say this game his high replay value if it was short, now would they? ;)

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Jbul

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Whiners. Haha. Game is supposed to be enjoyed by everyone... that's why the Golden Tanooki leaf and the P-Wing are OPTIONAL. And for the guy who didn't like the 3D, well, you probably bought the wrong system. :roll: I thought the 3D was amazing.

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bdiddytampa

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<< LINK REMOVED >> yeah this game is one of the better showcases of the 3DS's 3D imo

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JosephPadula

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Great Game.. very bummed about the lenght of each board.. too short! and only 8 worlds... I have only been playing the game about 40mins and I am on world 4 already...

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THA-TODD-BEAST

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I'm glad Gamespot got it right about the 3D by saying it's eye candy and really nothing more. IGN's review made me chuckle when they said the use of 3D was incredible and made platforming "easier." I've always heard that before - 3D effects make it easier to judge jumps in platform games - but I've never agreed with it. I completed almost the entire game without 3D because it saps battery life and because it adds unnecessary eye strain and makes everything too "jaggy" and I had NO problems completing any of the stages. They even went as far as to say that if you play without 3D, it will just become frustrating and far more challenging. What!? That's just absurd.

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epicpremonition

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P-Wing? Seriously, they might aswell add an optional main menu option saying "Auto complete"

2 • 

Super Mario 3D Land More Info

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  • First Released Nov 13, 2011
    released
    • 3DS
    Super Mario 3D Land is an evolution of classic Mario platforming featuring new level designs and challenges.
    8.7
    Average Rating993 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Super Mario 3D Land
    Developed by:
    Nintendo
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genre(s):
    Action, 3D, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    Mild Cartoon Violence