Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD Tokyo & 1-Up Studios
Publisher – Nintendo
Director(s) – Koichi Hayashida & Kenta Motokura
Producer(s) – Yoshiaki Koizumi
Super Mario 3D World has been incredibly well received by critics even since before its release in all regions in November 2013, with publications such as Eurogamer, Joystiq and Destructoid giving the game perfect scores. Both the critical and commercial standpoints seemed to be that this was the reason why people should own a Wii U. But sadly, despite what a good game this is, it has been very much overlooked in both the US and the UK in particular. In my opinion, it’s nowhere near as great as a lot of the old Mario games, and not even as great as Super Mario Galaxy 2. However, I don’t think Nintendo deserved to have this game so widely neglect in the western market. It’s an enjoyable game and definitely one of the best Mario games in recent years, surpassing the likes of New Super Mario Bros 2 and its predecessor, Super Mario 3D Land, in quality by some margin.
Graphics – 8/10
Whilst the visuals aren’t exactly cutting edge, as indeed they’re not really supposed to be, the conceptual design of the in-game world and its inhabitants is typical of any Mario game; wonderfully weird. There’s a nice blend of both classic and new enemies to contend with as well as a mixture of old and new settings. Most of the different levels in the game are also very intricately designed and greatly encourage a certain level of exploration in order to find hidden items, which is always a plus. But sometimes, I can’t help but feel as if some of the levels are also recycled versions of old ones, as indeed has been the case in other recent Mario games. I also found a few of the boss fights pretty generic, as they were clearly recycled from Super Mario 3D Land. However, what sets this game apart from 3D Land is the fact that this game thankfully includes more original bosses than generic ones; a lot like the bosses found in the Super Mario Galaxy series. I’m also a sucker for water effects in games, and Super Mario 3D World certainly has great water design, too.
Gameplay – 8/10
Gameplay is the most important aspect of any game, and Super Mario 3D World certainly delivers in style. Massive improvements have been made on Super Mario 3D Land in that there is a lot more variety and things to do. As with the settings and enemies, the gameplay is a very exciting blend of both old and new element of the Mario franchise. The most classic example is the option to play as Mario, Luigi, Peach or Toad just like in the NES classic, Super Mario Bros 2. Each character handles differently and there are some level whereby different characters need to be played as in order to gain certain collectibles. The new cat suit also provides some very interesting new gameplay mechanics, giving characters the ability to climb up walls in order to take shortcuts and collect hidden items. There’s also another feature whereby the player can collect cherries, which spawn multiple Mario sprites to control at the same time in order to solve puzzles and reach hidden areas. This element was inspired by The Legend of Zelda game, The Four Swords, which would always be considered compelling. My only gripe with it is that there could’ve maybe been a few more side quests added, or at least the side quests that were included could’ve had more of a purpose; if only to make it stand out further as a platform game. Like for example, the stamps to be collected in the game are used to merely customize Miiverse posts.
Controls – 10/10
There’s honestly not much to say about the controls, as there’s no problems with them. As I mentioned before, the Four Swords mechanic of controlling multiple sprites at one given time is particularly impressive, along with the character choice mechanic, which might’ve been missed by some fans of the series maybe. My rule of thumb is when a game has a perfect score in terms of controls, it simply means that there are no complications with them, even if there’s not much to say beyond that; unless, of course, there are some overly innovative elements worth talking about, which might make them even more deserved of a perfect score. But even if there are no new control elements, I don’t think there’s any need for a game to lose marks if the controls are implemented correctly, with no problems.
Lifespan – 7/10
On average, this game will take players around 15 hours to complete. Whilst this is a fair amount of time, I don’t think it’s that great. It seems to me to be somewhat deficient; especially given the amount of time Nintendo had to get this game out, and that there are a fair few recycled elements of Super Mario 3D Land thrown in there. I think if they really wanted this game to have the impact that Nintendo clearly banked it on having over the holiday season, they should’ve made it longer to again, make it a lot more notable when talking about the platforming genre. Nevertheless, 15 hours is just about acceptable for a platform game, and it’s worth playing; if only once.
Storyline – 6.5/10
This, for me, is the aspect in which the game falls shortest on in my opinion. Although it indeed strays away from the thoroughly exhausted plot of Princess Peach being the damsel in distress, as of course she is a playable character this time round, the story still follows the basic premise of a typical Mario game. Bowser has this time captured seven fairy-like creatures called Sprixies, and Mario and company follow Bowser into a new world known as Sprixie Kingdom in order to save them and defeat him once again. Personally, I liked the plot of the Super Mario Galaxy series, which introduced several new characters and creatures relevant to the story, and mixed it up a little bit more than usual. But unfortunately, I don’t see anything about this game’s story that makes it stand out among most others in the franchise. This is another element of the game that Nintendo probably should’ve spent a bit more time on to have the desired lasting impression they were looking for.
Originality – 7.5/10
Any Mario game is always going to stand out to at least a small extent. Whilst there’s not a great deal in this game to differentiate it from many other Mario games, there’s certainly enough to discriminate it from most of the more recent ones. Various new bosses and some fantastic settings separate it from most of the newest 2D side-scrolling games in the franchise, and there are also the few new gaming elements added that I previously discussed. I think if not for some of the recycled elements of Mario games placed into the mix, I think this game could certainly have had the intended effect on markets away from Japan that Nintendo sorely required to give the Wii U a much needed boost in sales figures throughout Christmas.
In summary, Super Mario 3D World is a fun and enjoyable game, and it is indeed worth playing through. There were many other titles released over the holiday period that unjustifiably hogged attention away from such a good game as this, but I believe Nintendo are capable of doing more with Mario than what they did with Super Mario 3D World.