I played Super Mario 3D World at E3 this past year and for whatever reason it just didn't interest me at all. Yeah, it's neat and it's about time they made a 3D Mario game with mulitplayer, but the demo made it feel like yet another New Super Mario Bros. game. You know, the series that has been rehashed four times now if you count New Super Luigi U.
Technically those games are great -- don't get me wrong. And they're fun to play in co-op for sure, but something about them just never made me want to finish them. They didn't have the spirit of pretty much all of the earlier Mario games that made me fall in love and 100% each and every one of them.
I wanted to give Super Mario 3D World another chance though, and the hands-on time I got with the game yesterday has completely sold me on it. That spirit I was referring to before is undoubtedly present with the latest Mario game.
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Release: November 21, 2013 (JP) / November 22, 2013 (NA) / November 29, 2013 (EU) / November 30, 2013 (AU)
First, watch the trailer above that was released the other day showing off a ton of gameplay. It's impossible to not feel happy after watching it. There's so many new power-ups! In fact, that's what developer Nintendo EAD wanted to really push with this latest Mario. Power-ups, power-ups, power-ups!
How many power-ups are there? Let's count it off:
- Fire flower
- Tanooki suit
- Super star
- Cat suit! Meow meow meow!
- Cherry cloner
- Boomerang suit
- Missile launcher hat thing
- Propeller Block
- ? Block hat
- HOLLOWED OUT GOOMBA CORPSE!
- Kuribo's shoe as an ice skate!
- Potted Piranha Plant
- Explosive soccer balls
Not all are technically power-ups, but they are all weapons Mario can use. And I'm sure there are more that haven't been revealed yet.
Okay, now for the gameplay. Nintendo had me start off in World 1, which, by the way -- you can run across the world map itself now before entering a stage. You can move from level to level in any order you want, offering a choice in how you want to tackle the world much like the next Zelda is for the 3DS. There are also some big enemies on the map, but Nintendo wouldn't tell me what would happen if I encountered them.
Each of the playable characters have special abilities by the way. After running as Mario for a few seconds he'll gain a speed boost. The same goes for Toad, except he moves even faster. The Nintendo rep that was with me noted that Toad would be great for speed runs. Luigi can jump higher, and Princess Peach can float through the air for a few seconds. It's much like Super Mario Bros. 2 in terms of all their abilities.
I played as Mario, and he was pretty reminiscent of how Mario controlled in Super Mario Galaxy -- except he felt a little more floaty, making him a bit slower to perform his acrobatic moves. I was trying to get a feel for Mario's new physics when I ... fell off the map. In the very first 15 seconds of my hands-on time I freaking fell of the map. I'm glad I did though, as I found out the death music is the same death song from Super Mario Bros. 3! A later level had the dungeon theme from the first Mario Bros. game in it. So yeah, expect plenty of throwbacks.
Back into the level, I made my way forward where I spotted some cat Goombas that I squashed along with using the hefty amount of POW blocks to obliterate them all. Then I got it. I got the cat suit that made me feel like a ninja. Mario's agility and speed increases, plus he can now run up walls, perform dive bombs, and scratch enemies to death.
Power-ups will also help open up hidden areas in levels, of which there are a ton. There's a device that can only be turned with the cat suit power, and turning this device will raise a tower that will let you reach a hidden star. There's three hidden stars in each level that you'll have to collect if you want to 100% the game.
The most important part of the cat suit is that it allows you to climb up a flag pole at the end of a level and get the max points. It's kind of cheating, but hey, you're going to want all the points when playing co-op. Multiplayer is similar to the New Super Mario Bros. titles in that characters will spawn within a floaty bubble, they can pick up and toss other players around, and it's all drop in/out co-op too.
At the end of each level players are given a total point score, and whoever was the winner will be given a crown. Yes, a crown! The winner will wear that crown in the next level, but if they're hit by an enemy the crown drops and someone else can grab it. You'll lose the crown entirely if you fall down a pit while wearing it too. There's no purpose to the crown, except to rub it in to your teammates.
The next part of my demo saw me go into the first world's end castle. Here I was introduced to the explosive soccer balls. They'll appear on the map, and you'll just need to run into them to kick them towards whatever direction you're facing. The soccer balls explode upon impact.
This part of the level is designed to give you a feel for the mechanic, as the next part of the stage sees you taking on Bowser. He has a sick new ride, and you have to destroy his vehicle by kicking the explosive soccer balls he throws out back at his ride. The level is auto-scrolling too, and you have to keep up otherwise you'll be killed if you fall too far behind. The level also appears to just go on endlessly until you're able to destroy Bowser's car.
After defeating Bowser, we went to a desert-themed world with the first level set within that shadowy area you saw from the trailer. This level is more of a side-scroller, especially with the shadow effect going on. It's here where I used the Potted Piranha Plant too. Just pick it up and the plant will bite whatever comes near it. Careful though, as the plant will even snap at your co-op buddies. They won't lose a power-up or anything, but they will be knocked back a few feet.
At one point in this level there's a wall of purple enemies that are blocking the path. You can just jump through them to move on, but you get hurt doing so. To get through them safely you'll need to blow into your GamePad's mic. Kind of a stupid feature, if you ask me.
The last level I played through had the cherry cloner power-up. Pick it up and there will be two Marios. Pick up another and get three Marios. Then four, then five, and then six. The Nintendo rep wasn't able to tell me if you can have more than six.
With six Marios, all of which had the fire-flower ability, I obliterated everything in my path. Nothing stood a chance against so many fireballs. It's kind of tricky controlling all the Marios at once, especially if they get split up from the pack. If one gets hit, they'll simply disappear. I wonder if we'll ever see a level that offers the cherry power-ups and the ability to equip each one of them with a different power. That might be too much power for one plumber to yield though.
I am so happy for Super Mario World 3D. It's exactly what I've wanted out of a Mario game for years now. I'll lose my mind if they bring back the feather cape too which is, as we all know, the best Mario power-up of all time. Period.