GAME NAME: Super Mario 3D Land
RELEASE DATE(S): 18 November 2011
It’s-a me Mario! 3DS owners have been waiting to hear this since the launch of the handheld earlier this year. The good news is that it was well worth the wait.
Super Mario 3D Land manages to combine the creativity of the two Super Mario Galaxy titles with the platforming-excellence of Super Mario 64 – arguably the greatest trio of 3D platformers of our time. The environments are as bright and colourful as you would expect with a perfect arrangement of old and new Mario-type level designs. You will frequently find yourself saying, ‘Oh this reminds me of this stage from Super Mario *insert number or subtitle*’ which is not a bad thing as the three-dimensional design elements make even the most redundant fundamentals new and fresh.
The difficulty of the game at first seems to be a concern as you can fly through the earlier levels with the greatest of ease. There is no cause for worry though as the game scales up to become a suitable challenge for veterans of the series. Nintendo have decided to graciously add high-tier power ups to a level if you misguide Mario into one too many death traps or inbred Tanooki Goombas. One such item is the banned in 27 countries (not really) Super Albino Tanooki Suit which gives you the same invulnerability as Star Power for the whole level. Just make sure that PETA don’t hear about you using this power up unless you are willing to have teary-eyed protesters outside your house for the rest of the year. Having these super power-ups available does make any given level too easy but veteran gamers can simply choose not to use them.
The Mario-themed atmosphere is brought to life with the sound. It’s what you would expect from a Mario title, the coins still pling and the mushrooms provide a satisfying bloop bloop bloop. We wouldn’t want it any other way. The soundtrack predominantly consists of tracks from previous Mario outings – especially Super Mario Bros.3 – and while you’ve heard them all before the repetitiveness fades into insignificance when the nostalgia kicks in.
Super Mario 3D Land can easily be completed without the 3D feature enabled however you will find that it dramatically improves your super-ninja-platforming skills when attempting a dangerous jump or avoiding fiery lava pits. The 3DS gyroscope feature has been incorporated into the game but adds little value to actual game play. In certain areas of the level you can use binoculars to search for Toad by zooming in on the landscape. Find the little yelping bugger and he’ll reward Mario with a power-up upon detection or even better – one of those hard-to-find large coins, used as currency to open up other stages. If the gyroscope functionality isn’t for you, you can just use regular controls. In addition to this there is also limited StreetPass functionality where players will automatically be able to trade items with other Super Mario 3D Land owners. You can’t help but feel that this was a slight afterthought. That said, it’s always nice to receive notifications on your 3DS when around friends and strangers.
Super Mario 3D Land is a well-rounded platformer and while it does lack elements from previous Mario titles it is arguably the best Mario handheld title out there. Visuals are outstanding, the 3D mechanic has been put to excellent use and the game progressively becomes very challenging and addictive. This is one of those must-have titles which 3DS owner have been waiting for. Woo Hoo!