Mario and friends get catty in the latest Wii U title to be expertly recycled for Nintendo’s Switch. Plus, there’s a whole bonus game. Let’s-a go exploring!
Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad are ambling about a lovely primary-coloured lan- erm, world – one day and stumble upon a glass pipe protruding from the ground. A ‘Sprixie’ appears, followed by big, bad, bruising Bowser, who bags said lemonade/Kim Deal hybrid and disappears back down the pipe.
Our intrepid quartet enter said pipe and plop into a curious kingdom of fluffy growths, marshmallow platforms, green stars and mucho more weird stuff that’s fairly normal for Mario games.
You see, while Super Mario 3D World will be new to many, it’ll also be familiar – like that pair of old trackie dacks that you just can’t chuck out. The music – while wondrously remixed – regularly recalls Mario’s first steps, as do several gameplay mechanisms. Imagine Super Mario 64’s adventure diced into bite-sized, flag-ended chunks like those original 2D platformers and that’s what this is.
“Super Mario 3D World will be new to many, it’ll also be familiar – like that pair of old trackie dacks that you just can’t chuck out.”
Naturally new bits have been introduced. As alluded to earlier, Mario and friends are now catty. Literally – they haven’t taken up gigs as entertainment gossip scribes. Instead, they’re meowing it up with wall-climbing and pounce abilities. Then there’s other new stuff like cloning. We’re seeing double here – four Marios! You can keep cloning as long as you find the right power-ups, but once you get more than a couple it can be kind of like herding cats, which, we guess, is appropriate here.
As well as being able to take part as any of the quartet, if you’ve friends either local or online you can all go nuts simultaneously. “Nuts” being descriptively apt, as even two players going about things simultaneously can be frustrating – multiplayer requires communication, especially if one of you likes to explore and seek out hidden stuff (timer be darned!) and the other is more your gung-ho “Gotta get to the end of the level, yeah!” type player.
The green stars that we mentioned are the key to progress. You can power through levels without seeking them out, but you’ll soon hit a wall as further levels require a certain quantity of stars in the arsenal. This is the point at which those more explorational players earn the right to let loose a snarky “Nyah-nyahh nyah nyah nyah!” or similar.
As you traipse through the eight main worlds and four unlockable bonus ones, you’ll encounter pretty much every platformer trope that’s existed since Mario first tugged on the dungarees and went jumping. As Nintendo basically invented everything in the genre, it’s a great tour into the genius minds of their designers – although you may be cursing their names when you get whumped, thumped or otherwise dumped repeatedly. For, as you’d hope and expect, Super Mario 3D World can be challenging.
Joy of joys, Captain Toad also returns. The original Super Mario 3D World spawned the Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker game – isometric puzzles starring everybody’s favourite mushroom-headed Indiana Jones wannabe – and they’re dotted about the various worlds offering great fun on top of the practical, aka more green stars.
Super Mario 3D World isn’t perfect or, indeed, purrfect, as some sordid past remnants remain. Insanity-inducing, unnecessarily backtracked respawn points are the biggest irritant, and some may find the invincibility power-ups supplied if you stuff a level up a few times a tad insulting.
Meanwhile, a whole new game has been added to the Switch experience in Bowser’s Fury. Big, bad Bowser has gone bigger and badder than ever, so much so that his son, Bowser Jr., has become desperate enough to call upon Mario to help him work out what’s wrong with his poppa and stop his dark rampage. Mario, being the accommodating chap that he is, agrees to assist the chip off the old turtle/dragon/lizard thing.
This is an entirely separate game to Super Mario 3D World, allowing only two-player co-op – Mario and Bowser Jr. – and plopping players in a large, open space to play, rather than providing short, sharp levels like the main attraction. The cat theme persists, as you search out ‘Cat Shines’ to power up lighthouses, while dealing with regular outbreaks of gothic-tinged music and Bowser losing his nut at you in fiery fashion. The aim? Collect everything, turn into the huge Giga Cat Mario and have a fighting chance against Fury Bowser.
Bowser’s Fury offers a good three-hour bonus game, or roughly double that if – like us – you like to search every nook and cranny for bonus stuff.
Ultimately, Super Mario 3D World has lost none of its magic since debuting on the Wii U, and also gains a photo mode and amiibo support on top of the online multiplayer and bonus game. Significant history is plundered masterfully, along with wild creativity, top music, all of the colours and – joy of joys – we’re treated to a non-helpless Peach. This should tide us over nicely until Super Mario Odyssey 2… There is a Super Mario Odyssey 2 on the way, isn’t there Mr. Miyamoto?
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is available February 12 on Switch.