The lights are on
Mario's back in a brand new 3D adventure, but can it live up to it's history of greatness? Read on to find out!
Super Mario 3D Land, the newest release in the Mario series, stands as one of the best of Mario's handheld entries and maybe even one of the best Mario games ever. As usual, the game starts off with Peach being kidnapped by Bowser and Mario chasing after him. The story is as simple as ever, but no one buys Mario games for their story, you buy them for their gameplay, and luckily, the gameplay is as tight as ever.
3D Land is a platformer that truly feels like a combination of 2D and 3D platforming. There will be times where a level or part of a level plays like something more similar to Super Mario World and others when it plays like Super Mario Galaxy. Whenever the feel changes, you'll hardly notice difference. The camera will always be in a perfect spot and the Circle Pad will respond in the exact way you move it.
Regardless of how a level is played, it always follows the same path. You begin the level at a certain point and you run and jump while avoiding obstacles or defeating bosses to reach the flag pole or the end. This is where the game feels more like a 2D Mario than a 3D. The power-ups you can collect transform Mario and when you're hit, you lose your power-ups until you die. This means no more health meter like other in 3D Mario games, no more star collecting to complete the level, and no "find the red coins" levels. Everything feels like a classic Mario game, and it feels great.
Many of the power-ups are from classic games, two of which, that make a return from Super Mario Bros. 3. Of course you still have the super mushroom, the fire flower, and starman, but the special power-up of this game is the Tookani tail. Like in Super Mario Bros 3., the Tookani tail let's you glide down safely to land and whack enemies and blocks with your tail. Another power-up to return is the boomerang suit, also from Super Mario Bros. 3, which let's you throw boomerangs that can ricochet off walls and return back to Mario.
While 3D Land may be light on power-ups, it's really diverse in it's level design. Levels aren't restricted to one theme of a world, so you can get a snow level one level, then go to a desert level soon after. While they aren't as crazy and amazing as Galaxy, you'll still find a couple of great levels. Sadly though, in the special worlds, the levels begin to lose the luster when you're prompted to do a similar mission every world at least once or twice.
Probably one of the greatest things about 3D Land though, is how well it utilizes the system it's on. As stated before all the controls are tight and the control scheme is just perfect, the graphics are crisp and do well to show off the world around Mario, and the 3D effect is just amazing. Once you turn it on, it'll be hard to play it off. The 3D effect really extends the depth and helps you give a greater sense of where things stand in the Mushroom Kingdom. 3D Land does use some of the other features like Streetpass and Gyro. Streetpass allows you to exchange items with other players and Gyro allows you to look around when using binoculars and cannons. Although you can go without them, none of the features feel shoehorned, and once you get used to them, it begins to feel natural.
While I do have a lot of praise for the gameplay, there's still some little nagging issues I had with the game. For one, the game is simply too easy and too short. You can go through worlds 1-8 probably within 5-7 hours. And with that time the difficulty doesn't really get any harder until about world 8. Of course there is the special worlds and the star coins that help, but both of those are mainly optinal (more of the formal than the latter. With Star Coins, there's a bare minimum requirement you must have to get farther). Another little problem I had is the repetition that happens later on. Bosses are very repetitive (there's really only 3) and the level design tend to get less innovative and more of the same in some of the special worlds.
Conclusion: Super Mario 3D Land is a great Mario game and a great 3DS game. The game does well to show off the system's abilities and to this day is still one of the best examples of the 3D effect. While I did mind the game being too easy and the repetition that happens later on in the game, I'm willing to overlook that for what the game does best: the gameplay. If 3D Land isn't already apart of your 3DS collection I highly suggest you change that. The game is a must have for 3DS owners, platformer lovers, and Mario fans.
Pros & Cons list
Edit: As a finial note, this review may be a little late to the party, but I still felt compelled to finish it and get back on the review train. I'll be reviewing more 3DS games that I have in the upcoming weeks or so. Tell me what you guys though of my second review.
Sounds like a necessary 3DS purchase. A Nintendo console without a mario game just doesn't seem right. Great review!