Rendering courtesy of Nintendo
Over the past year, I have done a deeper dive in the Super Mario universe, playing some highly acclaimed games from the franchise such as Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Odyssey. Growing up, I rarely got to play a traditional Super Mario Bros. 2D platforming game that has had many iterations since the original game in 1985.
Many friends and family recommended that I check out Super Mario 3D World on the Nintendo Switch with its traditional Super Mario Bros elements while having 3D gameplay. Since it is a game with little emphasis on story, it was a different experience than what I was used to with Mario games, but over time, I found Super Mario 3D World to be an enjoyable game that provided a lot of entertainment for me.
Super Mario 3D World is a 3D platforming game where you progress through levels in a world in the Sprixie Kingdom and at the end, fight a boss to save a Sprixie captured by Bowser. After saving a Sprixie, you move on to the next world until you reach the final level of the game. During the levels, you collect three green stars (have to collect some to progress through the normal levels) and stamps to unlock bonus levels.
This is a game you can play with a group of four people as Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad are all playable characters. Mario is balanced, Luigi has a higher jump, Peach can briefly float and Toad is very fast.
In this game, there are the typical power-ups one would expect from a Super Mario game such as tanooki, fireball, boomerang, invincible stars and mushrooms to increase strength. However, the main feature of this game is the Super Bell, which allows the player to transform into a cat that can scratch away enemies and scale walls.
Super Bell is a ridiculously fun power-up and I enjoyed using it to scratch away annoying enemies while climbing walls to find secret pipes and green stars. It is a welcome addition to the Super Mario lore as I loved controlling Mario through the vast amount of levels in a yellow-cat costume that will forever be burned into my brain.
With this ability and the other power-ups, Super Mario 3D World presented itself with a vast array of challenges that kept the gameplay and journey fresh and exciting.
Three types of challenges stood out to me. First, Beep Block Skyway was a level where the red and blue blocks would appear and disappear while alternating to the beat of the level’s music. As someone who is a huge fan of video game music (more on that later), I loved having to time my jumps while familiarizing myself with the music’s flow. I had to intensely concentrate while listening to great music composed by sound director Mahito Yokota, a great experience for me.
Next, Mount Must Dash is the most iconic of the speed and dash challenges that force you to collect the green stars while having to time your jumps and reach the top of the flagpole. It’s an exhilarating challenge that combines speed and precision, making for one of the most fun levels in the entire game.
Lastly, Shadow-Play Alley in World 2 was unique as the player has to rely solely on shadows to progress past pitfalls and enemies. I enjoyed the design of the level and with the shadow aspect of it, I had to pay attention to every detail of it to survive.
There are so many more types of levels that I really enjoyed, making the journey through the various different levels worth it.
Adding to the fun gameplay was the exceptional soundtrack composed by Yokota. The music throughout the game matched the environments perfectly. Many of the songs presented a fun adventure while some perfectly presented an ominous presence.
“Double Cherry Pass” is the perfect song to illustrate the fun adventure Super Mario 3D World presents. The rapid instrumentals perfectly represents the thrill of the chase when progressing through a level while controlling multiple versions of yourself. This theme plays during my favorite level of the game, “The Great Flag Pole” in one of the bonus worlds and I’ll never forget listening to this song while chasing after a flag pole that is flying away from you on a narrow and cloudy road.
“Fort Fire Bros.” plays during some of the Bowser-themed levels where you have to deal with lava, Fire Bros., and many more traps the “King of the Koopas” has laid out for you. It is epic and sinister, elevating my tension when the level begins.
My main issue with the game was the lack of consistency with the world themes. World 3 is in an ice world, yet the boss is Hisstocrat, a giant serpent family that shoots fireballs. This is just one of many examples and I wish that more elemental levels could have made the experience even better. Luckily, the challenges are so strong that it is only a minor complaint on top of a shallow plot.
Super Mario 3D World was a fun experience with clever power-ups, creative level designs, and a memorable soundtrack that allows me to feel a sense of adventure when listening to it. I recommend it for anyone that wants to enjoy a fun adventure with clever level designs and challenges. It is available on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch.