It took awhile but Nintendo finally gave us a high definition 3D Mario game. It may have taken Nintendo a while to ramp up their high definition efforts but the wait was worth it. In a year where the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched, it was Super Mario 3D World and the Wii U that impressed me most during holiday 2013.
I pre-ordered Super Mario 3D World immediately after watching its E3 2013 trailer. After hearing that orchestral music play, watching the colorful worlds pass by and the ridiculous cat suit in action I knew I wanted it. It was the 3D Mario effort that I was hoping Super Mario 3D Land was.
Super Mario 3D World may appear familiar to those who’ve played Super Mario 3D Land but there were enough additions and improvements to distinguish from its handheld little brother.
Four player mulltiplayer featuring the cast of Super Mario Bros. 2 offered a chaotic cooperative experience that I unfortunately didn’t couldn’t try. I finished the game by my lonesome and switched through the four cast members to mix things up.
New power ups were to be expected and chief among them was the Catsuit. I didn’t know what to expect from the Catsuit because it’s been a long time since we had a meaningful power up in a Mario game. As lame as it may appear at first glance, I found the Catsuit to be the best power up since Super Mario World’s Cape.
The Super Mario World Cape was versatile and fun to use. There was nuance to it and the more skilled individuals could pull off impressive results. The 3D Mario games have been missing such a power up. The Cloud Suit and Bumble Bee Suits were fun diversions but they were one offs for specific levels. The Catsuit forced the designers and myself to think vertically across numerous levels. Hidden stars and other collectibles were placed in more creative places — even when the Catsuit power up wasn’t an integral part of that level. It also persuaded me to play with more precision and not allow myself to lose that Catsuit to a lowly Goomba.
I began collecting Super Mario 3D World’s Green Stars immediately. I usually played through games once to “enjoy the spectacle” but out of fear of the game being too easy, I decided to play it “the right way” from the beginning. It was the right decision. I saw the inventive and creative ways Nintendo was arranging their collectibles, levels and uses of not just the Catsuit but other classic power ups as well.
The lack of consistent challenge in Super Mario 3D Land was an issue for me. It was uneven and a majority of it was on the easy side. Super Mario World’s difficulty ramp was more gradual. The final set of worlds were a fun challenge and filled with nostalgia extending back to the Super Mario Galaxy titles.
It would be accurate to describe the entirety of Super Mario 3D World like a trip down memory lane. It feels familiar but at the same time, I get that sensation of wonderment and joy that I felt when I played Super Mario Galaxy or Super Mario World for the very first time. It’s tough to walk that line of nostalgia without retreading; not even Nintendo manages to pull it off consistently. But when they nail it like they did with Super Mario 3D World, it’s worth picking up a console for.
For more information on Super Mario 3D World, visit the official website.