This is a standalone review of Super Mario 3D World for Nintendo Switch, which is included in the Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury bundle released February 12, 2021. To check out our review on Bowser’s Fury for Nintendo Switch, click here.
For the first time since the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo had its back to the wall upon the release of its eighth-generation home console, The Wii U. The Japanese gaming manufacturer was deep within development of a systematic, decade long plan to produce a catalogue of prestigious first party titles that would mirror the success of its follow-up to the 2006 global sensation, the Nintendo Wii. That wasn’t meant to be. With PlayStation 4 dominating sales charts and its promise of boundless capabilities, Nintendo unfortunately floundered. Its innovative take on the home console-handheld hybrid was labelled a gimmick that had been limited due to its outdated technology, unable to obtain its forecasted lifetime sales. With its hardware being the catalyst, its software became victims being underrated, and underappreciated.
Super Mario 3D World was critically acclaimed and met with universal praise as Mario’s greatest 3D Adventure, that suffered from its platforms unfortunate setback. The title had adopted its handheld counterpart’s blueprint, and partial gameplay loop with spectacular upgrades within visuals and aesthetics. This was unequivocally, Nintendo’s last ditch effort in luring gamers to its flatlining delivery in home entertainment, at that period in time. Super Mario 3D World propelled above and beyond anything the developer had achieved on the Wii U, prior to its release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But without the Wii’s install base following suit, instead of a resounding ovation for this incredible game, it went out with a whimper – and in no way, did that sit well with me. But here we are, eight years later and I’m delighted to see the title given new life, appraisal, and its due diligence much like other titles that have been ported from the Wii U, over to the Nintendo Switch.
Selfishly stating, Super Mario 3D World should have been first in-line but the wait was worthwhile and made it so much sweeter, with additional content being added in Bowser’s Fury (check out our review). We have seen a fair share of releases since 3D World’s initial launch in 2013 including; the Super Mario Maker franchise with its latest entry adopting 3D World’s side-scrolling gameplay loop, Super Mario 3D All-Stars which saw the re-release of Mario’s timeless 3D classics in Super Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy (Galaxy 2 remains a mystery), and of course – among a sea of gaming glory that year – 2017’s Super Mario Odyssey lifted facets of the aforementioned bundle, and conceived new ideas that bought Mario to the forefront of our current gaming generation. There’s no doubt that 3D gaming ages questionably, but Nintendo titles have a distinct aura that makes them timeless, an attribute Super Mario 3D World clearly retains.
Everybody wants to be a Cat...
For the uninitiated the plot is simple, but not quite the one you expected. While star gazing amidst a flurry of fireworks going off in the night sky, Mario, his brother Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach stumble upon a clear pipe that looks to have been damaged. The plumbers promptly repair the conduit where suddenly, a fairy looks to be making a getaway through the Mushroom Kingdom canals, begging the group for help. She reports that Bowser had kidnapped her friends in jars with herself being the only one free. Upon notifying Mario and his pals, Bowser appears through the pipe and clasps the Sprixie, trapping her along with the rest. The Koopa King makes a quick escape heading downwards through the pipe, only to have Mario and his crew follow the beast. The gang make haste and expeditiously slide through the tunnel towards the mysterious realm of the Sprixie Kingdom. Not only does this deviate from the norm, it flips the script entirely from Mario’s traditional “saving the Princess” premise. While the last Sprixie trapped is a Princess, it’s not Peach for once.
A new wave of Nintendo Switch owners are now set to experience this outstanding action-adventure title that redefined Mario's established platforming construct, amalgamating and adopting features across prominent titles within Nintendo's most renowned franchise.
Primarily presenting itself as a direct sequel to 2011’s Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo3DS, 3D World overhauls much of its design, but keeps its core gameplay loop intact, while marketing the title around the new in-game mechanic, the Cat-suit. While 3D Land prominently proposed players to utilise the trademark Tanooki suit, 3D World’s campaign coerces you into its shiny new feature, the Cat bell. Upon grasping its gleaming allure, its power will transform our crimson capped plumber into one fearless feline. Adorned in a golden coat, and murmuring adorable meows, Mario’s ambitious quest to scratch and claw his way through this new terrain leads our packed party into “Purrfect” platforming perils – yes lame, I know. The suit itself has a number of perks applied that may have some questioning the power it yields. I would consider the cat suit a safety net of some form, giving inexperienced players on the prowl a chance to explore areas at their own free will.
Sure it will hold hands and may be “OP”, but damn if it isn’t a lot of fun clawing your way through swarms of goomba’s and buzzy beetles. Holding down “Y”, and sprinting towards a gathering of baddies while rapidly tapping the button will eradicate numerous foes, flooding each surrounding; the gratification of seeing enemies be annihilated here is immeasurable. Hidden paths and secrets that aren’t in reach without the cat suit can be discovered by scaling tall cliffsides or walls. A trio of green stars are strategically placed in each level, in hope of players exiting with all three collected, while hitting the peak of each flagpole to be rewarded a golden banner. Using the cat suit to climb the level’s goal makes this an accomplishment without effort. Stamps are scattered across multiple levels and are usually the most attainable item, however you may find the uncommon circumstance where the game will challenge your dexterity in obtaining the collectable.
It can become quite the scavenger hunt to lockdown prime items that are needed to progress through each world map. Stars are imperative to further advance, unlocking new levels, bonus rounds, mini-bosses and fortresses. Boss battles are a breeze with each entailing unique quirks that oppose Mario’s run and topple offense. However, it’s as simple as 1-2-3, knocking out a budding baddie to oblivion, collecting a bountiful bank, grabbing the level’s star and freeing a Sprixie kept in captivity. There is the rare scuffle that will give you a fair fight, most notably the Motley Bossblob that mutates into a million slimes, so be sure to have a spare cat suit saved, you most certainly will need it here. Things are made easier upon collecting the cherry power-up, which clones our protagonist and allows up to five playable apparitions simultaneously, but the item is primarily placed in levels that call for its multiplicity rather than it being regularly available.
Because a Cat's the only cat, who knows where it's at...
✔️Unequivocally, a must have for all Nintendo fans and Mario lovers.
✔️An underappreciated, and undermined experience that was underrated due to its fathering hardware and platform.
✔️Mario’s biggest and best 3D Adventure yet. Lifting facets of Mario’s massive legacy, borrowing fundamentals from past expeditions to make this a one-of-a-kind escapade
❌Some technical bugs, nothing a patch can’t fix.
Translation of Super Mario 3D World’s controls from the Wii U was intriguing, due to limiting factors including Gamepad exclusive levels that weren’t accessible unless you were utilising the portable handheld controller, in its initial release. I had my reservations whether Nintendo would rectify this obstruction, as I enjoyed playing the title with my Wii U Pro Controller. I was glad to see this intrusive non-feature resolved for those that enjoy a traditional home console experience with some caveats that accommodate the aforementioned barrier-of-access. Using the pro-controller or joy con’s motion capability, you’re able to simply tap the R button, activating a Wii-like pointer on screen to interact with the intended environments that were originally designed to poke and prod with your Wii U’s stylus.
You may activate the feature anytime during the game as it will aid Mario in halting enemies on a warpath. Simply tapping down on any oncoming foe will have them freeze for an ample amount of time. This gives the player a favourable amount of leverage to lay in an attack or to use an appropriately placed enemy to pounce on for unreachable items that may be hiding in unorthodox locations. Dash, leap, long-jump, triple-jump, backflip, acrobatics, wall-jump, dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge, Mario’s paramount powerhouse of complex skills return to those looking for just the right amount of flexibility attached. Leading in with the “Mario 3D Land/World” gameplay loop, the game’s fixed camera composition contrasts that of a “Mario 64” or “Odyssey”.
Additionally, Bowser’s Fury utilises Mario’s various 3D World mechanics, but makes use of traditional sandbox like components which its parent title omits in favour of its hybrid classic 2D Mario-cross-3D Platforming experience. Gallivanting across multiple world maps will reveal hidden gems and secret locations after meticulously investigating each nook and cranny. Some bonus objectives are more demanding than others, with tents bearing the easiest puzzle, while question block huts will test your patience with a decathlon like gameplay loop, challenging the player to collect a plethora of stars which will add to your ongoing tally, but if you run of time or lose a life, then you will have to restart the entire bonus round from the beginning. Then there are hidden pipes which lead you to underground areas in maps that usually contain extra boss battles or an elusive Toad house containing a small or large question block, however choose wisely as it’s the luck of the draw.
For those that loved Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’s re-release for the Nintendo Switch, here you will experience the original mini-puzzle game that inspired the spin-off title, across multiple maps. While each puzzle may not be as elaborate as the “Cap’s” standalone release, they can be just as fun. Using the right analogue stick to rotate and angle each level map, revealing stars, stamps and looming adversaries, you’re able to concisely construct a successful path in collecting each green star dispersed on the floating hexahedron-like isle. Bonus games and puzzles become mandatory towards the title’s endgame as they bank a boastful collection of Green Stars, without them you won’t be able to progress. Much like his many moments of memorable escapades, Mario explores a myriad of locations, entailing a respective theme attached.
Grassy hillsides, the Sandy Desert enclave, the Icy Tundra’s and the Ferocious fire-pits of Fury, Mario’s adventure through each region will not only present a unique hardship, predicament or snag, but as the expedition expands to new heights, so does the game’s difficulty. The maniacal malevolence of Bowser’s masquerade morphs a new menace within his entourage. An army of familiar foes in new forms, some harbouring Cat Suits of their own, along with the nuisance of new enemies rearing their ugly head. While some are a cakewalk, others carry blockades that need circumventing to reveal their weakness. This usually comes in form of Mario’s item catalogue of choice. The Super Mushroom, the Fire Flower and the Super Star all make a welcoming return in addition to extra power-ups including the Boomerang Brother suit, the Propeller Box, Kuribo’s skate and the Mega Mushroom. A comical side is shown with a Goomba suit camouflaging the plumber as he makes his way through Bowser’s army, undisclosed.
I must admit, I’m giddy… possibly overjoyed. My favourite 3D Platformer is now getting its moment in the spotlight. A new wave of Nintendo Switch owners are now set to experience this outstanding action-adventure title that redefined Mario’s established platforming construct, amalgamating and adopting features across prominent titles within Nintendo’s most renowned franchise. Super Mario 3D World carries a twisted legacy, once undermined by its fathering hardware, now in a favourable position at its new home on the Nintendo Switch. An essential piece of software for all owners of the handheld-hybrid-home console, one for the entire family to enjoy. Additionally, the Switch exclusive online multiplayer experience is perfect for our current global climate, and given the freedom of both the this and local co-op demonstrates Nintendo’s willingness in evolving and including features such as this in re-releases. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is categorically, a must own.
Super Mario 3D World is a platform game developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii U home video game console in November 2013. An enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, was announced on September 3, 2020.