It’s a Mario game. How much does whether it’s any good really matter? If you like this series, there’s a good chance that you have it already. If you think it’s kids stuff and/or that Nintendo should move on from this series and create a fresher mascot, you’ll avoid it. But should you? I think not! While it may not be the most original concept, Super Mario 3D World is an excellent game and everyone with a Wii U should have it.
Plot: 7 out of 10
When you create your save file, the story you see in a cutscene is surprising. For the first time since the Cold War, a Mario game that is neither a spinoff nor starring a “B”-lister but an uncompromised Mario Bros. title does not have the damsel in distress concept. Instead, Bowser has conquered the kingdom of fairy-like creatures known as sprixies. One of them escapes to inform Mario Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach of this and ask for their help. Being big-hearted (and knowing that Bowser’s koopa empire will expand into their lands), they agree.
The result is that instead of Peach being a victim waiting to be rescued, she’s one of four playable characters. In recent times, an increase in female gamers has created more criticism of sexism in video games. While I don’t agree with all of this criticism, Nintendo’s history of using damsels in distress as primary plots is a definite problem. But if this game is any indication, it may have become a thing of the past.
Other than that, though, this is a pretty generic Mario plot.
Graphics: 9 out of 10
The graphics are great for the Wii U. The familiar Nintendo look is here with the characters and environments looking nothing less than excellent.
Sound: 7 out of 10
The music is pretty good, but I think there’s a few too many remixes of classic songs from the past and not enough original ones. I like remixes but originality is never a bad thing.
Gameplay: 10 out of 10
In a departure from past 3D titles in the series, Super Mario 3D World does not have a pie chart to measure your energy. No, this game uses Super Mario Bros. 3 rules. A Super Mushroom makes you normal-sized and able to take two hits. There are various power-ups beyond that to be found, each of which gives you a unique power, along with an extra hit to take.
As indicated previously, there are numerous characters to choose from: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, and after a little progress through the first of two hidden Worlds after Bowser is defeated, Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy. These characters have their own unique abilities, adding quite a bit to the game. Additional characters also allows multiplayer with extra controllers.
As for how the game handles, the controls are pretty much perfect! Even the camera issues of past games have been more or less ironed out.
Challenge: 8 out of 10
About average in difficulty, but unique game design helps compensate for this, adding a lot of fun factor. So does the need to get Green Stars to unlock the last two Worlds. Green Stars come in sets of three and are hidden in sub-Worlds. Oftentimes, finding the Stars proves much harder than completing the sub-World.
Overall: 9 out of 10
Possibly one of the best games in this console generation, Super Mario 3D World adds a lot to the series. And the use of extra playable characters and multiplayer bring it all together! With the possible exceptions of Splatoon and Super Mario Maker, Super Mario 3D World is the best reason to pick up a Wii U.