Never underestimate the appeal of a 3D Mario in HD. Don’t get me wrong, I did like Super Mario Bros U – but only in the same way that I enjoyed New Super Mario Bros Wii – both very nicely put together, but never feeling as substantial an experience as Galaxy. Which is to be expected of course.
Seeing Mario and Co, in 3D, in a 3D environment is really quite something – they feel more solid – more real somehow. It’s a sight I’ve longed for, for the best part of a decade – and were it not for the fact that I was within eye shot of WiiU booth attendants, I may well have allowed a solitary tear to leak down my cheeks.
From Nintendo’s E3 demo, Super Mario 3D World’s added dimension does make a big difference to the overall experience – that perception that, while you’re not getting a ‘Full’ Mario, this is at the very least an enjoyable stop-gap until that happens. It immediately feels like you’re getting something more meaningful than from the ‘New Bros’ lineage.
Actually, ‘enjoyable stop-gap’ is belittling. The five stages available to play (chosen from a good range of worlds) amply demonstrated the riotous fun that’s to be had here.
Co-Operative and counter-operative hijinx are very much GO! in this one. The range of stages, from a scamper across the traditional green-green grasses of the Mushroom Kingdom, mountainous territory joined by glass pipes, to an enjoyable boss encounter – though relatively tame in terms of difficulty – all offered a pleasing breadth of variety in platforming challenges.
Just as with the 3DS’ Super Mario 3D, the camera is not quite as intimate as it is in the ‘proper’ Mario games – instead hanging back, and a little less dynamic, so that every player gets a fair view of the action.
It’s a necessary concession – and I’ll admit that there were times when I couldn’t quite tell with absolute certainty where I was going to land, particularly when it came to bouncing on the above bosses’ bonce – though I’m sure this won’t be quite as much of an issue once you get more familiar with it.
Perhaps the biggest and most talked about aspect of Super Mario 3D World is the inclusion of the new cat costume power-up – which allows Mario and his friends to climb walls, hack and slash with claws, and pounce. It’s a nice addition giving Mario a much needed horizontal ground attack – as well as opening up the movement options you have to traverse each of the game’s stages.
I also particularly like the fact that Peach takes the fourth player slot this time (honestly, who wants to be Toad TWO, eh?) and again, it all helps give Super Mario 3D World a better feeling of feeling of legitimacy. The different jumping styles of each character are also in effect – giving better reason to choose one character over another, depending on your preference.
I’m also pleased to see that all the characters now share from a single stock of lives. While it’s inevitable that friends will do their best to scupper their allies in the pursuit of coins and power-ups – there’s a greater sense of shared responsibility in terms of your overall progress.
While it might not scream at you in terms of invention or imagination – there’s no denying that, from the breadth of the stages in this demo, there’s plenty to admire, and very, very little to criticise here.
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