I had my reservations about Super Mario 3D World, as I desperately wanted Nintendo to produce something like Galaxy from their bag of tricks. I hate myself for ever doubting the big N.
Mario 3D World plays like a dream. The controls are as slick as every other 3D Mario and the Wii U GamePad is a welcome change from the Wii remote. The developers have not only retained all the moves that make Mario’s 3D titles great, but even saved the Galaxy spin, which is now performed by spinning the analog stick. However, many players like myself will have to wave goodbye to an old friend. While the long jump returns, it has been shortened to the point where a full speed running jump will now launch players further by quite some distance.
The game is brimming with charm and the quality that Nintendo always bring to their main franchise. The multiplayer is seamless drop-in/drop-out, utilizing many of the mechanics used for multiplayer in the New Super Mario Bros. franchise. This includes both the ability to return to the game in a bubble after death, keeping everyone involved in the game. However, due to the 3D camera being a lot less predictable than a 2D experience, it’s a lot easier to accidentally leave your friends behind. Rather than killing them outright, they are forced into a bubble and can return to play as soon as the surviving players can free them.
These friends I speak of may join in using a Wii remote horizontally in a classic fashion, or with a nunchuk attachment for a much more familiar experience. I am led to believe that the Pro Controller will also work with the game come launch.
The demo showed a variety of gameplay, including the dinosaur banana boat that was seen in the E3 Nintendo Direct. Oddly, Nintendo decided to give every player on the boat control during this section, I assume in an attempt to stop anyone being excluded, which does force players to communicate with one another. Ultimately, it caused more problems than it solved. Imagine the manta ray races from Mario Galaxy 2, but with 4 players in control. You can understand how my co-op partners and I came to the team decision to leave player one in charge.
The other levels were more classic Mario experiences and despite having multiple players on screen, we all blissfully travelled through the world together. Classic platforming puzzles and hidden routes are still present and you feel right at home. The levels themselves are a lot bigger and less limiting than the ones found in Mario 3D Land, which was a welcome surprise. While every level on the demo was a ton of fun, my only issue was that none of them were particularly challenging. Of course, this is a show floor demo and alienating your audience with difficulty would be a poor move. We’ll find out when the game arrives, I suppose.
While each character does indeed have their own advantages and skills, I never got the impression that any one player had more at their disposal. The only overpowered item was the catsuit, who’s wall climb ability is so exploitable that the Nintendo reps stood with jaws slackened as I skipped entire sections. If you’re an experienced Mario player, you’ll soon figure out how to get the most out of the new power-up. In truth, it was clear the developers knew of the nature of the suit they had created, as secret after secret was revealed as I thought I had discovered an unknown route.
I still want a 3D Mario game that pushes the Wii U and shows the genius of Miyamoto, but having played Super Mario 3D World, my frustration has completely dissipated. It is a pleasure to play and I cannot wait to get my hands on the full version later this year.