Sunday, December 15, 2013

Super Mario 3D World Review

Regardless of what console a person owns or their own taste in games, all gamers can agree to one universal truth about the industry: Mario is the greatest video game icon of all time. He's endured for several decades, everyone knows who he is even if they don't play video games, and his games have been some of the greatest and most influential games ever released, period. I will fully admit however that the past few years haven't been so good for him. His last great game, Super Mario Galaxy 2, was released in 2010 and since then, there's been a stretch of mediocre to outright boring games thanks to the New Super Mario Bros. series, a series that never really changes or makes an innovations at all. Enter Super Mario 3D World, a game that tries to reinvent how Mario games are played. And I'm happy to say that this game may just be the best Mario game since Galaxy 2.For the past few years, Mario games have been divided into two distinct styles. You have your 2D games personified by the New series, which are simple go right and get to the flagpole in each level games, and the 3D games, which are getting a star in a 3D world by doing different tasks while having freedom to do it however you want. 3D World is a combination of both styles. The goal of each stage is to reach the flagpole in a 3D world, which allows you to explore a level for collectibles and have a bunch of different gameplay styles to reach said goal. It's very similar to 3D Land, which released on the 3DS and served as a test run for this game. 

The new cherry power up allows you to make clones of yourself
But enough about comparing the game with other Mario games, how does it stand on its own? Well, it's a 4 player Mario game that takes place in large and open environments. That pretty much sums up the entire game in a nutshell. Honestly, it's very hard to describe what this game actually is because of how accessible Mario games are. Everyone knows how a Mario game plays and everyone knows that they're generally fun. The most important thing about this game however are the new features included to separate itself from other Mario games. And 3D World has that in spades my friend. 

Outside of the obvious visual improvements of being in HD for the first time, which looks stunning on the gamepad, 3D World also goes at length to show off new power ups and worlds. Classic power ups like the fire flower, tanooki suit, boomerang suit, and even Kuribo's Shoe show up, but the two new power ups are the cat suit, which allows Mario to dress in a cat suit and run up walls, pounce on enemies from above, and swipe at enemies from the ground. Then you have the cherry power up, which makes a clone of Mario that you can control that will die as soon as it gets hit, and will retain any power ups that the original Mario has. So if a fire flower Mario touches a cherry, you'll get two fire flower Mario's. The cat suit is an amazing amount of fun and does make the game a lot easier for players, while the cherry is used sparsely and is used just enough to be fun, though I do wish they used it a bit more than they actually did. 

Because this game is a 4 player Mario game, you can play as up to four characters at a time, each with their own set of abilities. There's Mario, who is you average all around easy to control character, Luigi, who has a higher jump and is a bit harder to control, Peach, who can move slowly but can hover in the air for a short amount of time, and Toad, who is the fastest yet jumps the lowest. Each person can choose whatever character they want, so you can experiment and choose exactly which character suits your style. Peach is geared a bit more for players that want the game to be a bit easier, while Toad is the hardest to fully master. Everyone will be able to find out exactly which character works for them .

Dat Ass
Each stage also has 2 different types of collectibles to get. There are 3 Green Stars in each world for the player to get that are required to unlock new levels and advance in the game, while stamps are optional collectibles that can be used for posting pictures onto Miiverse. I never really used the stamps at all, but I was avid about collecting the Green Stars. If you want to fully complete the game and reach the hardest possible world, you need to collect EVERY Green Star, EVERY stamp, and reach the top of EVERY flagpole. If you want to complete this game and fully master it, you'll be in for one hell of a ride. My hat goes off to you. I personally gave up trying to reach the top of every flagpole, which is easier said than done. 

Bosses are also original for the first time in years. While you still have to fight against Bowser and Boom Boom, there are a lot of original bosses that can pose a significant challenge. Take Hisssstocrat for example, a giant snake that can only be beat by hitting its head. In order to do that though, you'll need to climb up little snakes that pop out of the ground using the cat suit and pounce on his head. There's actual strategy to it, and the battle gets progressively harder the more you fight against him, eventually going from that to fighting him as he spews fire, then fighting two of him at once. Also, it goes without saying that the final fight with Bowser may not be the most difficult one, but the intensity of it makes it insanely memorable and very hectic in a good way. 
Mario has never looked this good... even though it's Luigi in the picture...

While I have been very positive of the game so far, there are actually only one or two issues that I can bring up with the game. Personally, I think that the game is too easy. The game is lenient enough that you have plenty of lives in case you die, and even if you get a game over, the game will respawn you at the beginning of a stage instead of at a checkpoint. Not exactly a big punishment. Also during 4 player co-op, if a player dies then they come back instantly without any players being penalized. Everyone can continue on with the game despite a player dying, which is good that it doesn't stop the flow of the game on harder levels, but is annoying that it's very hard to actually get a game over. 

But I can't even complain about that because later levels present such a strong challenge when playing alone that playing the same stage with 4 players seems close to impossible. And on a side note, I played the beginning half of the game with 4 players and the remaining half of the game alone to see how each mode fared. I much prefer to play with 4 players because of how much fun it is to see everyone jump around and require communication to succeed, but it can be very frustrating on harder levels. Choose whatever you want to go with, but I would say go multi for easier levels and solo for hard levels unless your friends are all very skilled gamers up to the challenge. 

I don't really know what else to say besides this is a phenomenal Mario game. It's a shining example of what the Wii U can do and just how fun the console can be at its best. I think that it's a great Mario game, though probably not my favorite. Top 5 easily though. It has just enough new features to it that makes me want to play it, but enough classic Mario charm that I can have a good time without being too frustrated. Should you buy a Wii U just to play this game? I say yes. If you want to see the best the Wii U has to offer (so far), then this is a prime example. I give Super Mario 3D World 4 cat suits out of 5.

Now I'm going to go buy a cat suit and harass people. MEOW!!!

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