Most people spend much of their lives going with the flow. It is comfortable and unchallenging to accept common views as truth. If most of the people you know say that sharks are pretty friendly creatures who speak Korean, you may smile, pick up a cheap English-Korean dictionary, and pencil in some scuba lessons for next Friday. If people told you raw onions and garlic are a very powerful aphrodisiac, you’d probably end up smelling like a French atom bomb for a month. And if most people turned to you and said that Super Mario Land 3D was worthy of your time and cash, you’d probably go along with that too, right?
Okay, so maybe those first two might only work on the truly gullible and stupid, but I for one fell for the latter. I accept that generally speaking, I’m very much in the minority when I say this, but Jesus Christ, can I have a refund and three hours of my life back?
Super Mario 3D Land is the combination of ideas from the Gameboy release Super Mario Land, and various themes borrowed from newer Mario games. There are hints of Super Mario 64, Super Mario World, and a hint of Super Mario Galaxy. I could bore you (and myself) by going into details about the synopsis of this game, but instead, I shall write a ten word summary; “Princess Peach kidnapped by Bowser. Mario to rescue. 3D visuals”. The game was touted to be the savior of the 3DS, which has seemed to be true; price cuts and Mario games have seen 3DS unit sales go slightly more skyward. Is this down to how well developed a game Super Mario 3D Land is? A lot of people would argue yes. However, I am starting to get an itch to get to the point. I really hated this game. I despised it for having the sheer audacity of taking up my time, let alone taking my money as well. I also hated myself for feeling obligated to finish it to at least justify the expenditure, but now I just feel dirty. Rather than lay my feelings out in a well presented essay form, have some bullet points.
Okay, I’m gonna lay a lot of hate down, but the game is not as bad as this.
• Despite reviews stating as much, the 3D visuals do very little if anything to enhance the gameplay. There were two or three rooms that required it, and even then it didn’t really work. Possibly limitations of the technology, but I’m more tempted to think these rooms were a bad freaking idea.
• Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser again. And oh look, just like in Super Mario Galaxy, they have flying ships. Is this a new recurring theme? My main quarrel with the Mario games is how much praise they garner Miyamoto, who may as well have been picking nouns out of a hat to make his game. “Plumber” “Mushroom” “Turtle”. Game on. Not. Now that this universe has been established, it seems difficult for anyone who works on a primary Mario game to work their way out of the corner they’ve been painted into without changing focus to Luigi for Luigi’s Mansion. Maybe it’s silly to demand something more from a game series which is not only one of the most financially successful and critically applauded, but who’s creator is regarded as the greatest games designer of all time. Miyamoto’s a hack. He got lucky in the 80’s because no one expected anything better from video games at the time, and now here we are, twenty-seven years later, and we all still kiss his ass. If any success comes out of Nintendo these days, I’m doubtful it has much to do with him. No creative originality besides the just plain odd.
• It’s too easy, until it isn’t. There are points in the game which I never truly figured out the correct solution to, and ended up dying until I got the invincible Tanooki Suit. Cheating? Fuck it, I don’t care, I just wanted it to be over so I can get rid of it. By the end of the game, I’d stockpiled 58 lives, without any kind of cheating or hacking, even with the odd frustrating bit.
• Despite borrowing some elements from Super Mario Galaxy, it hasn’t seemed to have learnt much artistic merit. Whilst my opinion of SMG is mixed, there were odd moments which actually showed someone at Nintendo was awake and ambitious. Music and level design were inspiring. However, despite my acknowledgement that SM3DL had to confine levels to a much smaller scale in the name of portability, there seemed to be a lot lacking in the music and visual design department. Levels were bland and didn’t really seem to look like anything but a pile of static or moving parts, and there only seemed to be five background music tracks to share amongst forty or so levels. Bland.
• Peach’s voice made me want to dress my best mate up in a tiara and pink dress and punch him in the face. Her only line was “Maaaarioooo”. Talk about your weak gender representation. When is Peach going to kick some ass in a non-spin-off? Isn’t it about time she took some self-defense classes?
• After suffering through eight worlds of easy platforming “fun” which was mediocre at best, the game then has the audacity to jump up and say “Wait! Luigi’s in trouble too! Have some challenge maps!” Too freaking late. I’ve seen enough. The whole idea has soiled itself and I wish for no more part in it.
So there you have it. In my opinion, this game was made because it needed to be made to save the 3DS from oblivion, not because anyone really felt like making it. There’s no heart, no feeling. At least with SMG, I felt like some effort had gone in, and I enjoyed that one, despite my mixed feelings about the Mario franchise. In a way, this game has made me want to re-set-up up my Wii, to see if SMG 2 is equally disappointing; another game some guys made, because they were told to. Heck, if it’s as good as people say it is, maybe it might stop me cringing every time I hear an Italian accent. If it wasn’t for my bro-mance for Ezio Auditore, I swear I’d be outside, hurling abuse at a pizzeria right now. So why did it get so highly reviewed and sell as well as it did? Because people seem to need Mario games to be good, to the point where they have to think they’re good even if they’re not? The alternative to this mind sight could mean the end of Nintendo handhelds and maybe even consoles. I just think some people can’t get their heads around the idea that a Mario platformer can be bad. Well, this one, for me, was dreadful. What’s more, I don’t care for Mario Kart 7 either.
So for being highly unoriginal, wasting a unique hardware feature, lacking any real challenge until you “finish” the game, lacking any really notable artistic design and for Princess Peach’s voice, Super Mario Land 3D gets a 4
. I don’t hate Mario platformers, but this one was such a disappointment. And to all those who enjoyed this game, I merely ask how they managed it. I begrudge every second I gave to it.
Next time, something else. Tchuâ