Review – Super Mario 3D Land

At a Glance: While the inclusion of 3D may not add much to Mario’s latest platformer, that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best 3DS games on the market.

Nintendo’s 3DS did not have a very good start. Because of the high price and the lack of software and features, Nintendo’s newest handheld was not selling as expected, forcing them to lower the price in all regions and take heavy losses because of it. Gaming journalists and forum posters from around the internet were proclaiming Nintendo as a “doomed” company because of the low sales and the growing competition of the Vita and smartphones. However, 3DS sales have been rising in all regions and the system’s major titles are beginning to be released, starting with Super Mario 3D Land. Nintendo’s legendary mascot has finally arrived on the 3DS, and his game is the best 3DS game to date.

Super Mario 3D Land continues with the same formula that has made past Mario games great, but this time they fused both the 2D and 3D games together in one package. Although Mario still runs around in a semi-open world, many of the game mechanics from older games have replaced many of the mechanics from 3D Mario games. Instead of having a life bar, the original power-up system in the 2D games return. Also, the level selection screens from the original 2D games return as well as the time limits for each level. Classic power-ups like the fire flower and the Tanooki Suit return as well as some new suits like the boomerang suit and the propeller suit.

Nintendo did a great job in blending the 2D and 3D gameplay aspects of Mario games, but there are a few issues to take into consideration. In some levels, the camera will switch from a 3D perspective to the classic 2D landscape, however, the 3D movement is still in effect, meaning Mario can walk off platforms if the player nudges the circle pad either up or down. Also, unlike previous 3D Mario games, Mario cannot grab onto ledges. Although it is not an issue for most of the platforming in the game, there are a few moments where grabbing onto ledges would have helped in getting through the more difficult levels.

Like with most modern Nintendo games, there is a way for casual gamers to easily progress though the game. After dying five times in a level, the player is able to use a golden Tanooki Suit, which makes Mario invincible to everything except for lava and poisonous gas. After ten deaths, the player would be able to skip the level entirely and move on to the next stage. The game may appear extremely easy in the first few worlds, but it does get more difficult in the later levels, and these special power-ups are not available in later levels.

The graphics remain true to the Mario universe with its cartoon-ish art style and a vast array of colors. It looks similar to Super Mario Galaxy, but there are some flaws. Even in 2D mode, the lack of anti-aliasing is apparent with the abundance of jagged textures, but the game still looks as good as it’s console counterpart, making it one of the best-looking 3DS games to date.

I was excited to see how 3D would work for Mario, thinking it would be easier to calculate jumps by seeing depth. However, when I tried using the 3D, I was disappointed with what I saw. Although there are a few good effects, it really doesn’t add anything to the game. Because of the camera angles, the 3D only shows its potential when either climbing up platforms or falling down on them. It does not help when jumping onto even-leveled platforms since the camera angles in 3D Land are not similar to the ones in regular 3D Mario games.

3D Land features the same music and sound effects that we all know and loved for many years along with some new and remixed tracks. However, most of the music is reused in multiple levels to the point where it starts to become irritating. It’s a good nostalgia to hear the warp pipe theme from the first Super Mario Bros. game in a similar themed level, but once it keeps playing in multiple levels, it begins to get old and repetitive.

Even with these complaints, 3D Land still delivers with its gameplay and content. There are eight worlds to play (which has become standard in Mario games), each containing four to five levels as well as a boss stage. At first I thought that the game would be too short (a problem for a $40 handheld game), but 3D Land delivers with a ton of interesting levels to play. After completing the regular eight worlds, the “special” worlds are unlocked. Some are redesigns of their “regular” world counterparts while others are completely original. Some of the “special” levels add extra challenges, including racing against Shadow Mario and beating levels in 30 seconds, having to collect clocks or kill enemies in order to gain more time. Although the bosses are recycled, the amount of other content makes up for it, and there are still a ton of star coins to collect in each stage.

Overall, Super Mario 3D Land is a great Mario game and is one of the best games out for the 3DS. Even with the lackluster 3D and the repetition of bosses and music, the large amount of content contained in the game makes up for these faults. If you have a 3DS right, you should definitely get this game.

The Good

  • Great blending of 2D and 3D Mario games
  • Many levels to play and tons of collectibles to get
  • Good graphics and art style, the best on the 3DS at the moment

The Bad

  • 3D adds nothing to the game
  • Repetitive music and boss fights
  • No ledge grabbing

Final Score – 9/10

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