I’ve been meaning to buy this game for ages, but it just never happened. Luckily, I ended up buying a Wii U from a relative and got a few games for free. This one happened to be among them so I finally got a chance to play the final 3D Mario adventure. While it isn’t quite as good as the others, it’s still a great game and one that I’d recommend to all Mario fans. With 4 Player Mode, you can imagine how chaotic a lot of these levels are. There’s also a lot of content here so you won’t be cheated out of 60 dollars like with Star Fox Zero. Not that this matters much at the moment though since the game goes for 20 nowadays. At that price, how can you not get it?
The plot is pretty simple and to the point. Bowser has kidnapped a bunch of fairies and Mario has decided to get them back. Bowser has amassed quite the army this time though so Mario has enlisted the help of Luigi, Peach, and Toad. Together, the four of them are ready to take down all the foes who would dare stand in their way. Rosalina also shows up to help, but only after Bowser has already been defeated so it was a little too late by that point. Awesome character to play as though.
By now, the gameplay is likely self explanatory to most Mario fans. It’s a 3D Mario Platformer where you have to try and reach the end of a level. They are all linear so the levels work more like the 2D games or Galaxy to an extent rather than the more complex/circular levels from the Super Mario 64 and Sunshine days. (Still the best two Mario games) Each character has a special ability that will help you complete the levels. Mario…is Mario. The sheer hype that his cap brings to the table is all that you need. Luigi can jump extra high which should help you reach the flagpole just about every time. Toad has some super speed which can help in the races/speed levels. Finally, Peach can float for a limited time which is like having the Raccoon Tail permanently. Her ability is easily the most useful and I’d say that she is unquestionably the best character in the game. Getting the Green Stars with her is almost too easy. As for Rosalina, she can spin, which works as an attack like having the Tail. It’s pretty useful against bosses and enemies alike. That being said, I’d still give Peach the edge over her. Once you start floating around, you don’t go back!
As always, Mario 3D World has an impressive soundtrack by its side for the levels. While they aren’t quite as ironic as the other titles, there are still a few themes that may become iconic from this one like the boss theme. The game did a very good job with that one since it is fast paced and gets you excited for what’s to come. Graphically, the game is also as good as ever with the colors really standing out. Nintendo’s definitely done a good job of staying near the forefront in this area.
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of replay value here. After the initial 8 worlds, there are 3 bonus ones and then a final secret world. The last world is a little on the small side, but to unlock it you will need to collect all of the Green Stars and stickers, which should take you a very long time in and of itself. The stickers were actually a neat touch, but I don’t like the fact that you have to beat all of the levels with each character in order to unlock some of them. That seems like it would be a little tedious after a while. Most of the levels are only about 2-5 minutes long so it’s not terrible, but you shouldn’t have to do all of that to unlock the world. All of the Green Stars is reasonable, but not the rest of the requirements.
The game does have a little bit of an issue with repetition though. You can guess what will happen in each world based on the first. You’ll get to the castle, where the Fairy will yell “Help!” You’ll save her and then she’ll build a pipe to the next world. This happens at each world with the same music and everything. Both of the Bowser battles are identical and the game also reuses mini/normal bosses in the game. I suppose with a title this long that’s an efficient way to do things, but the repeated cutscenes is certainly a no no. At least switching up the music would be a nice switch.
The Mario games live in a staus quo that they don’t want to switch and that’s fine. I can get used to fighting Bowser at the end every time because it’s classic. That being said, It would be fun if the games would throw in more of a plot. I feel like Mario Sunshine took a large step forward with that as it had actual cutscenes and a talking character. Granted, Mario didn’t handle his arrest as well as Sonic did in Adventure 2 Battle, but..heh, few characters are quite as cool as that hedgehog!
One of the big selling points with this title was the fact that you could play with 4 players through the story. That was certainly fun. It comes at the expense of the gameplay mechanics to an extent as there has been a noticeable drop from the Galaxy titles, but it was still good overall. I do think that splitscreen should return though as one player shouldn’t die if he goes too far from the other. This can get tricky in the stages where jumping switches them all around or when you’re running away from lava/Bowser. It makes for good tactics though and Peach can typically cheese the levels anyway. You’ll always want to play as her.
This game also saw the debut of Captain Toad so it was nice to see him around. The gameplay is fun and these are the kinds of puzzles that I can get behind. They are like brain warmers with one correct answer and not too much guesswork. You’ll either know the answer of you’ll have to walk around and figure it out. You don’t have to sail across the world in order to find the goal. (Final Fantasy VII…..) I definitely wouldn’t want to buy Captain Toad for 40, but if it drops to 20 then that could be reasonable. It would be ironic if I bought that game before New Super Mario Bros U or Luigi Mansion Dark Moon though since it’s more of a spinoff than those two.
Another minigame of sorts in this title was the box challenges. You could earn up to 10 Green Stars in those by winning really quick contests. These tended to be a lot easier with co-op than they would have been otherwise for missions where you had to defeat several enemies in 10 seconds. I liked these bite size challenges and would be up for seeing them reappear in the NX Mario title. I want the Hub World to come back for next time though. Just look at Mario 64 or Sunshine for how to do a Hub World. Galaxy had it as well, but it was a lot less interesting so the next game shouldn’t take a leaf out of that book.
Overall, Mario 3D World is another solid title from Nintendo. It feels like a well polished title with enough fun and extra content to keep you busy for a while. It’s still the weakest Mario 3D platformer, partially due to the fact that it plays out more like a 3D New Super Mario Bros than a full fledged title. The soundtrack also wasn’t quite as epic as those and it felt like it was less of a grand installment. I imagine that it wasn’t a system seller the way that the others were. Still, Nintendo’s seal of quality is certainly found here and I invite you to try and match your gaming skills against this title. Are your Mario skills as good as you think they are?