No matter how many games I play, and no matter how many other games and series are released, I always find myself circling back to the world of Super Mario. So it was bound to happen during my #52GameChallenge that I’d add a Mario game to the mix, especially after buying a Wii U over the holiday season. And, just like a lot of Mari games I’ve played in my life, this one didn’t disappoint.
I’m talking about the lazily named Super Mario 3D World. Despite the name (which sounded like it was created by a bored Nintendo intern at the last minute) the game delivers in a major way. The biggest draw of the game is the multiplayer. Now I haven’t played a major Super Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii, so I’m not familiar with any previous platforming Mario games that allow simultaneous multiplayer. However, I’m also not a huge couch multiplayer fan unless it’s some retro games or sports games, but I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun with a platformer playing with friends and family.
The game itself is standard for those familiar with Mario platformers: Bowser is causing issues by kidnapping some fairies, Mario (and Peach and Toad and Luigi) jumps in to assist, you traverse koopa-laden worlds to collect stars, and eventually face-off against Bowser and save the day. But there are some solid additions to this formula that make the game new and exciting for gamers who may’ve been on a newer Mario game hiatus. The coolest of which is the new cat suit that each character can don that allows them to scamper up walls and attack many enemies easily without having to stomp on them. Not only is it cooler and more useful than the Tanooki suit, but it makes the characters really cute (statement co-signed by my fiancée).
|And let's not forget the adorable Plessie who whisks you around some levels.|
But the biggest addition to the formula is the multiplayer aspect. Each world can be explored with up to four people at once on one screen. This can add some interesting dynamics to each playthrough of each level. Depending on who you’re playing with, the multiplayer can be co-op, or it can be highly competitive. If you’re like me and you prefer getting 100% on as many levels as possible, you’ll likely play nice with others. However, if you’re also like me and you want to be the best in anything you do, you’ll try and sabotage your friends. You see, not only is the game as a whole based on how many stars you collect to access new worlds and levels, each level itself judges players by how many coins and stars they collect, and who finishes higher on the end-level flag pole. And to make matters worse (or better), the person to finish first and highest on the flag pole gets their flag hoisted for that level on the world map.
What you’ve now got is a mad dash on screen by everybody to collect every star and coin first, but also to complete the level first while sabotaging everyone at the same time. As a result, you may want to pick your friends you play with very carefully. Or, if you’re very prone with ragequits and bouts of immature screaming matches and telling everyone to leave, it might be best to play alone (and seek some anger management help).
|Giant Luigi Death Stare Mode Activated!!!|
The other multiplayer aspects are the ability to see and leave helpful little hints to other players about a level or the game overall. However, helpful hints are quite rare as most people use stickers you can collect in the game to leave little doodles and works of “art” to entertain you when you beat a level…so good luck finding that elusive 2nd star on your own.
Since I was simply having a blast the whole time I was playing Super Mario 3D World, it was hard to find anything to dislike about the experience. I will say that there was a flaw with the controls that led to some cheap deaths. You can pick up your fellow players and toss them, which can be helpful in some areas, but can also lead to friends being launched over a ledge accidentally when you don’t intend to pick them up. The only other negative I have to voice about this great game is the final boss fight and the game’s conclusion. I’ll not spoil anything, but the final confrontation with Bowser was frustrating at times, but once you get the hang of it, it’s over very quickly and you’re sitting there thinking that the ending didn’t do the game justice.
Still, the game can’t be judged just by those minor negatives, because it’ll please any fan of Mario and any gamer who enjoys hanging out with friends. I had to move on from this one to make room for other games in the #52GameChallenge, but I know that in the future I will definitely make my way back. There are plenty of stars and stickers to collect, as well as high scores to beat and a “Lost Levels”-esque world of timed levels with difficult enemies to test your skills. Of course a Mario game has high replay value!