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[Nintendo Wii U] Super Mario 3D World

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Super Mario 3D World is yet another highly lauded fully-fledged Mario title. And yet… rarely did it elevate to more than a fun time waster between other games. I dunno, but despite enjoying, it never had that ‘wow’ factor I felt it ought to have had.

Starting off with the good things – 3D World is a very refined game. This is as solid as a traditional platformer gets. It looks great (although, being a Mario title, isn’t particularly detailed). It has that typical Mario charm, leaning closely toward the classic look of the NES and SNES games. It has a well balanced difficulty curve – beginning ridiculously easy, then gradually increasing in when, before you even realise it, levels are having you sweat buckets. And the music is catchy throughout.

The game also attempts to break up the gameplay with a few interesting segments. The most interesting being the short Toad Treasure Hunter levels that pop up every now and then. They’re an… ok diversion, but I’d never find myself wanting to play such levels a second time round. Another being some usually short-lived dinosaur riding sections / levels, which prove to be quite gripping during the later, harder levels.

The camera, in my opinion, is what really lets this game down. It could just be me, but I found it hard to calculate and predict jumps or how close enemies were in relation to me. The camera alternates between fixed, and being able to be moved to a few select angles via the right analogue stick. Very limited. It’s frustrating that the game wouldn’t allow the option for a free-movement camera. This has on many occasions resulted in confusion and unnecessary loss of lives. And don't get me started on how confusing it can be to navigate through Toad's Treasure hunting expeditions. You can see me struggle at times to figure out where and what even in this gameplay footage.

One criticism which, although it never affected me, I could easily see affecting younger gamers, is the demand to have acquired a certain number of stars before being able to pursue further levels. I can imagine much younger gamers being denied the latter half of the game; having to return to earlier levels time and again, with collecting stars proving too demanding for them. Collecting stars is a cheap ploy to get levels to be replayed over and over again and, whilst most are fun, I do wish there wasn’t this arbitrary rule to force it upon us - especially to gamers who may not have done well the first time round (kids). It’s almost like punishing the less skilled gamers.

The multiplayer has pushes for competitiveness with a scoring system after each level, and placing players on a podium. Whilst it can be easily ignored, there’s no doubt that certain people will be influenced to try to better on another, resulting in the game being less about co-operation, which seems to work against what the multiplayer experience should really be about – harmless fun.

This game is everything you would expect from a typical platformer, which is often a good thing, but sometimes a bad thing. The problem is that the game never surprised me. You get the obvious one or two new power-ups to spice things up, most notably the cat suit, which is a blatant attempt to cash in on cuteness (I can just imagine the board meeting when Nintendo sat around the table and asked “what can milk the most money from the kids and family audience? I KNOW – a super cute cat suit!”), but no game-changers.

And whilst the level design is solid throughout, I can’t help but feel that this is just an amalgamation of all the 2D and 3D Mario games that have come before it. Not once did the game throw a curve ball, or have me saying “wow, I didn’t see that one coming”. The game just felt like it was playing it too safe. That’s how I’d rate this game – solid, but safe.

So, would I recommend this? Definitely. It’s a fun little game, and it has that addicting quality to it where you don’t want to put the controller down until you’ve beaten a difficult level (although, at times, levels proved so exhausting that they had me putting it down the moment I did beat them), but I’m not sure this is a must-have title for anyone other than Mario enthusiasts (and, yes, there are people who own a Wii U that aren’t blind Nintendo fanboys i.e. me).

At the very least, this is one worth playing if you’re after something to hold you of until something bigger. However, as a flagship Mario title, I was kinda expecting something more than that.


Fun time waster seems quite fair. I'd say it's a very fun time waster though. Definitely not a memorable point in gaming in the way Mario 64 and Galaxy were though!

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