Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Review by: Matt Peters
A Nintendo launch without a Mario game just doesn’t feel right. That may be the reason why the Nintendo 3DS stalled out of the gate. That empty space has now been filled, as Nintendo gives us Super Mario 3D Land. With a few new tricks up his sleeve and his signature hat, Mario’s ready to save the Princess again. Fortunately, this adventure was worth the wait.
Super Mario 3D Land isn’t so much a continuation of the original Super Mario Land Game Boy series, but a new direction that distinguishes it from the New Super Mario Bros. game format that started on the DS and migrated to the Wii. Character design and graphics seem pretty much the same, if not dialed back a little to get the most out of the game’s engine. Of course the big difference here is now Mario’s world is in 3D. Thankfully, it’s not on the Virtual Boy this time.
The 3D integration isn’t just tacked on; depth puzzles occur throughout the game. I reached one underground level with a staircase made of blocks, but couldn’t seem to jump on the second one up for some reason. Flipping on the 3D effect allowed me to see that the block was actually part of the foreground, and I had to wall-jump to get to it. It’s pretty slick. The accelerometer isn’t as useful, but does find a way to make itself a neat gimmick. Using a telescope, players can get a view for what power-ups and enemies are in the distance by moving the 3DS around. Even the system’s StreetPass feature gets a little love, as users can trade items by just walking past another player’s 3DS. This should be great for convention season.
The leaf power-up from Super Mario Bros. 3 is back, but in an odd twist, it gives Mario the Tanooki Suit and doesn’t allow him to fly. A short little shuffle jump with the tail wagging slows his fall enough to let Mario get more hang time (think Yoshi or Luigi from SMB2). Fortunately, a later variation allows the plumber to use the Tanooki Suit to turn into a statue temporarily. Other than that, the Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Star return along with two new items: the Propeller Box and Boomerang Flower.
One of my biggest issues with New Super Mario Bros. has also been addressed as well. For some reason, every enemy seemed to love the new level background music so much that they had to stop and do a little jig during certain portions. Now, however, they could care less. Timing’s important, especially with the additional dimension, and thankfully the developers abandoned this idea.
Super Mario 3D Land is the best experience I’ve had on the 3DS since its launch. It uses almost every feature of the hardware in an organic, non-intrusive way. It feels like Mario, it sounds like Mario, and there’s enough fan service to keep even the hardest of the hardcore satisfied. More important than anything else you’ve read here, Super Mario 3D Land is pure fun. This game should be in every 3DS owner’s collection, and should be packaged with the system in the next phase of the handheld’s lifespan. Nintendo’s got another winner on their hands.
For more info, nintendo.com