Super Mario 3D Land Review

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Super Mario 3D Land is the sole reason I needed to own a Nintendo 3DS sooner than later. I really believe that Super Mario 3D Land should have been a launch title. Hardware sales probably would have fared a little better if it came out on day one; especially a Mario game that ties together many elements from across the series. I have no qualms saying that Super Mario Land 3D is worth owning.

Super Mario 3D Land is unique mainly for its merger of elements from 2D sidescrolling Mario platformers and 3D Mario games. This merger has been pulled off with sheer brilliance making this one of the best Mario games ever. The health meter found in 3D games is now extinct in favour of the older system. When hit, Mario will now lose his power-up and can even revert back to small Mario. Eat a mushroom, and grow into Super Mario! Of course old favourites such as the Invincibility Star, Fire Flower, and even the Super Leaf (this time it’s the Tanooki Suit) make a return! Like many games before it, Mario can also hold one power-up in case of emergency. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for in a 3D Mario game.

Mario is controlled with the slide pad and can move in eight directions instead of regular analog control; this is actually new to the series. It can be a bit frustrating at first, but with practice it becomes an afterthought. No analog also means that to make Mario run you will need to push a button which is taken care of by holding Y. Jumping is simply mapped to B. This control scheme is reminiscent of Super Mario World. Some moves from his 3D outings also make an appearance. Wall jump, side somersault, ground pound and the long jump can be found and work similar to their 3D counterparts. L is used to crouch, which of course will be needed for some of the aforementioned moves, as well as a new crouch jump (very close to the backflip). Mario can also roll this time around, which is pretty useful for avoiding or conquering certain obstacles. A special rolling long jump can also be performed!

As for the level design, it takes the design philosophy of 2D Mario and implements it perfectly into a 3D level. Levels with plenty of Question Blocks, Musical Notes (Coin Heaven returns!), breakable bricks, coins, etc. can be found throughout; Check points also make a return. There are also three star medals to find in every level, which up the replay value and challenge considerably. Levels themselves can be best explained as Super Mario Bros 3 meets Super Mario World meets Super Mario Galaxy. A simple world map connects these levels, and while it isn’t a grand overworld hub, it’s more than enough in my opinion.

As for gameplay, that’s pretty much all there is to say. It is a very solid structure that Nintendo has created and I hope to see more of it in Super Mario 3D Land 2? What about the motivation that keeps Mario chugging through the different stages? Well, yes he is saving Princess Peach again. Bowser? Yes, it’s Bowser. What makes this game’s story unique is that Bowser has stolen all the Super Leafs in the land and is now using them against Mario, meaning Bowser and his henchmen will don the Tanooki Tail! Mario also receives letters from both the Princess and Bowser. These are showcased with awesome and quirky comic-like images. All in all, there is some detail in the story, even if it’s just a little.

After you’ve finished completing all of the game’s regular stages and finding each Star Medal, you will be challenged with a whole new set of Special Worlds. These Special Worlds are much more challenging than the first eight, but if you’re up for the challenge you will love this addition. It’s really kind of like having two games in one. This is a game that you will keep you coming back; I’ve already spent over 20 hours on the game.

Musically, you will find a remix of classic tunes and lovely new additions to the soundtrack. All in all, the entire soundtrack is quite stellar, most seemingly inspired by Super Mario Bros. 3. Graphically, this is the best looking handheld Mario game to date. It is hard to compare it to Galaxy, but more easily comparable to New Super Mario Bros Wii, but even better. Best explanation ever, right? Regardless, the style and level design both lend itself well to the 3D effect. It adds the perfect amount of depth with plenty of WOW moments. Having the 3D on will make jumping to certain platforms much easier, it will also make finding secrets easier as well. This is a title that was built with 3D in mind, and it can easily be seen. With a great 3D effect and overall great handheld graphics, Super Mario 3D Land has the complete visual package.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, this is easily the best Nintendo 3DS game of 2011. You will find lots of fun in this merger of classic and modern, lots of challenge, and an overall amazing experience from World 1 to Special World 8. Bringing back the Tanooki Suit will please fans, and a 3D experience rounds out a package that can only be seen on the Nintendo 3DS.

9.5/10

Received as a Gift

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