When you are playing your favourite classic 2D Mario games, such as the first three Bros. and World, have you ever stopped and wondered how certain aspects of the games would work in a 3D space? How would certain enemies such as Cheep Cheeps, Bats or Koopa Kids attack? How would you translate airship levels into 3D, with those giant, spiky blocks and bullet bills everywhere, or get the classic, level-ending staircase and flagpole in? It's harder than you would think, which is why Super Mario 3D Land looks, despite the many influences from classic Mario, really fresh and original.
Modernism is a very broad and complicated term, but one simple definition is that it is taking something that is old, and making it new again. When artists are low on ideas, they often look to the past to find inspiration, which I have surmised is what Nintendo have done when making their next portable platformer. Nintendo EAD Tokyo (Super Mario Galaxies) have translated the best elements of Super Mario Bros 3, while adding their own creative flair, to make what looks like a unique and very promising title; possibly the 3DS's first original killer app.
IGN and a few other sites have stated that big, epic games full of spectacle are best suited to home consoles or PCs rather than tiny screens, with handheld games working best when they are game-play focussed and relatively simple. SM3DL seems to fit that niche perfectly, having creative level design without being as flashy and big-scale as the Galaxies.
You see, in Super Mario Bros. and 3, the levels were actually really short (oh, the difference difficulty makes!). As many 3DS owners would know, when you have the 3D on while playing a massive game like Zelda, you will eventually get a head-ache and eye-strain if you do not turn it off. If you've read previews of the game, you will know that the developers have put a lot of effort into making the 3D look great, so having short, three-minute-attempt levels means gamers can enjoy the game in glorious 3D without the side-effects, as well as being able to just conveniently whip out their 3DS for a few moments.
The other elements look mighty fine as well. The music from the trailer is catchy and up-beat (expect some great Koji Kondo and Mahito Yokota stuff), the colourful visuals are probably the best seen on the system yet, and the Star Coins will make sure the game lasts a while.
The reason I said in the title of the post that the game could be a masterpiece is simple; this is the Galaxy team. Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are two of the best games ever made, and are packed with more creativity in one level than most games struggle to have in their entirety. I am confident in saying Nintendo EAD Tokyo know how to make Mario brilliance, and I know that if that brilliance extends into Super Mario 3D Land, and if they are able to successfully translate the classic 2D elements into 3D; we will have a masterpiece; and probably the best portable Mario game ever.
This game is on the top of my most-wanted list. Who knows, it might even help Nintendo sell a few 3DSs? Iwata deserves a bigger pay-check!
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