Super Mario 3D Land review

The 3DS has been rather thin on the ground for exclusive must-have titles. In fact the best games on the console are the updates of old N64 games. After a long wait, Nintendo have made an original 3DS game starring company figurehead, Mario.  Promising to be a mix of classic 2D Mario with the new 3D Mario, is the game worth buying a 3DS for?

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I am generally very impressed with this Mario game. I used to loathe the old 2D side scrolling games of the Gameboy and NES as I was awful at them. I enjoyed the Galaxy titles on the Wii a lot more, as they were modern and had a unique take on the franchise. 3D Land then, seems to be a step back, of sorts, but it works. There is not much of a storyline, thank god, the usual capture the princess affair is still intact. Despite a very short intro scene, you are straight into the game running, jumping and stomping around. This is perfect for a handheld title. I wish more games did this, without boring 10 minute intro scenes…

Controlling Mario is a joy as ever. I was able to pull off all of the moves almost instantly. When you pick up a power up for example, I felt I knew how they would work and handle, so was able to play like a pro. The only aspect I didn’t really like was the fact that there is now a run button. Surely the control stick could easily handle this? Still, it works OK and doesn’t ruin the game, it just feels a little odd if your used to the Wii games.

The levels are fantastically designed. There are a load of references to older games, such as the flagpole at the end of each level. Real old skool gamers will recognise nods to these games, such as the underwater levels, where you must avoid fish and the like. I really liked the fact the levels were short and sweet. You can explore them to your heart’s content or speed through them for high scores, but they are generally pretty linear, offering a blend of 2D on rails and 3D sections. It works really well, much better than it sounds on paper.

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There are the usual Mario secret areas and bonus levels, such as those sweet running sections on the clouds. The new power ups are a mixed bag, which is a shame. The much advertised Tanooki suit, allows for a spin attack and to hover in mid air for a few seconds, not to fly like in Mario Bros 3.  The cube hat is cool as you can fly vertically and hover back down which requires precision control. The boomerang and fireballs are pretty much the same, which kill enemies in front of you.

Graphically, the game is great. The visuals aren’t on the same par as Galaxy, but come close. I think the graphics are more like a crisp version of Mario 64, although the 3D is excellent. Nintendo have included some cool levels where you have to turn on the 3D slider so you can see past optical illusions. When in 3D mode, there is no anti-aliasing, which was evident in Zelda and Starfox. The sounds are also excellent. Mario games always have a decent toe tapping soundtrack, this is no different. Retro heads will love it.

One thing that must be pointed out, is that Mario 3D Land is pretty easy. The first 8 worlds can be completed in around 4 hours of straight play. This would usually cheapen a title but after you beat these levels, another 8 worlds open, which are far more difficult and add longevity to the game.

Super Mario 3D Land was a pleasant surprise. I thought I would hate it, but I came away happy. Perfect for short bursts on the train and a great showcase for the 3DS, this is definitely worth a purchase. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait so long for the next one…

Fantastic platforming, awesome levels
Lovely chunky characters and bright colours
Happy go lucky tunes some of Nintendo’s best
9Final Score

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