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Super Mario 3D Land and the History of Mario: An Exercise in Self Indulgence

Time for some self indulgence, as I've been far too serious as of late. And because I'm the only one that reads this blog, self indulgence is all good.

I've owned a 3DS for close to five months now, and so far I've only bought one retail game for it, that being Super Mario 3D Land. And it is the only game I've seen on the 3DS thus far that could be considered a must own (although Resident Evil: Revelations looks rather intriguing). Initially, this isn't exactly an odd thing. Mario almost always guarantees a high level of quality in his games, and I've always loved the mustachioed plumber's various adventures. That may be incongruous with what follows, but I felt that the latest escapade to the Mushroom Kingdom did not nearly live up to my expectations.

No. No, this is not a review. This is going to look at how the game was made, and why I feel it was rather disappointing in the long run. This whole bit, this is going to be an analysis about part of the history of Mario, the expectations that come following each game, and how that applies to Super Mario 3D Land.

I'm going to make a quick note on the NES era of Mario, pointing specifically to Super Mario Bros 2 and Super Mario Bros 3. Now, on Super Mario Bros. It is Super Mario Bros. Gold standard for platformers for almost a decade. Moving on. As many long time gamers may know, SMB2 was not the same game that was produced in Japan, the American version being a re interpreted game with mechanics used in Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic. Despite this, the game was generally well received, with it's interesting mechanics and multiple playable characters, but it is not considered as notable as the next release in the series, SUPER MARIO BROS 3.

Yes, considered by many, myself included, to be one of greatest and most influential games of the NES era. Following that was SUPER MARIO WORLD, considered by myself at least to be the best 2d platformer ever made, although if inspected critically, it could be seen as a longer and more complex version of its predecessor. But, more on that later. Mario was flying high. Then Super Mario 64 happened.

No, Mario 64 is not a bad game. It set a standard for 3d games for some time, in many ways like its ancestor Super Mario Bros (see where I'm going with this?). It was soon followed by Super Mario Sunshine, which was generally well recieved, but this title didn't reach the same level of acclaim that it's succesor(s) did. Super Mario Galaxy, considered to be a benchmark classic for the 3d platforming genre, with its sequel Super Mario Galaxy 2 considered to be a much better, more complex game than its predecessor. In some ways making it comparable to its 16 bit counterpart, Super Mario World. Huh.

Yes, there is, in my opinion, a sort of pattern that can be derived from the Mario series, especially in terms of when a major console change occurs (Super Mario Bros - NES, Super Mario 64 - Nintendo 64, Super Mario 3D Land - 3DS, etc.). So, on 3D Land. While I do, in hindsight, think of it as a rather enjoyable experience, when compared to the epic, fantastic joy I was able to feel while playing Super Mario Galaxy, the comparison is rather jarring. But, hopefully, 3D Land will be remembered as the beginning of something bigger and greater, and as it stands, will be remembered as the gold standard for 3DS platformers until we receive its successor in the same vein of Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Bros 3 (so long as the above stretch of logic is correct, and not the babbling of a madman.)

Although if the logic listed above is correct, we've got a bit of an odd Mario game before we get there (here's to Super Mario Sunshine 2!)

Note: Written before E3 2012. Then again, New Super Mario Bros. is practically its own spin off a this point so maybe I'm still correct. Who knows?
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About Samson Jinksone of us since 6:00 PM on 11.02.2010

I've been playing games since I was four years old, starting with a few levels of Super Mario World at my preschool. I soon acquired an N64, and have since enjoyed the GameCube, Playstation 2, GBA, Wii, Nintendo DS, PS3, iPhone, and the 3DS. I also have aspirations toward entering the games industry, by entering the Digipen Institute of Technology.
Twittering on @1080bitgamer
Blog is at


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