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Super Mario 3D Land

Video game for the Nintendo 3DS

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Super Mario 3D Land Review

  • Mar 5, 2012
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The following review can be found on my video games blog by clicking here

It’s no secret that Nintendo has had a very rough time releasing the Nintendo 3DS this year. Stemming back to its less than stellar launch with no real AAA titles things only got worse from there with a baron release schedule and bad press associated with health warnings it seemed Nintendo needed an ace up its sleeve. So it seems only fitting that the game to do that job is one featuring the company’s leading mascot. Super Mario 3D Land offers the first truly fantastic, original Nintendo experience for the console and if this is a sign of things to come then count me in.

Super Mario 3D Land doesn’t set out to do anything as bold or adventurous as the Galaxy series did for the Wii but rather take a more traditional approach focusing on the classic platforming elements of older Mario games. So much so that at points it almost feels like a 3D reimagining of the 2D entries, which isn’t a bad thing at all. You’ll notice this immediately in the copy and paste story or when the much publicised Tanooki suit makes its first appearance. But the similarities don’t stop there as levels themselves feel like they would easily fit perfectly if placed in Super Mario Bros 3 or World (of course if in 2D) You’ll find no gimmicks, instead testing your running and jumping abilities as well as your knack for analysing your environments and making it from A to B in one piece. You’ll see icy mountains, grassy plains, dusty temples, magma filled castles and the standard settings you’ve come to expect from the red plumber but oddly enough the little 3D effects such as bubbles and lava flying toward you or spiky pillars catapulting out of the screen make these feel less tired.

As with any Mario title I’m sure you’re interested in the power-ups and Super Mario 3D Land delivers both old and new. Mushrooms, fire flowers and stars are here and accounted for while the Tanooki suit makes its return. The spinning helicopter blocks also make their 3D debut being used in some of the game’s best use of 3D. Disappointingly though there is only one new ability, the boomerang suit. Like the fire flower Mario is able to throw projectiles at his enemies, difference being his boomerangs can collect out of reach items. Useful and fun. Shame there’s not more of them.

Mario handles as you’d expect where performing wall jumps, long jumps, butt stomps and tail wags are all very simple to do. Running is now a case of holding a button (much like in the 2D outings) which may take a little getting used to, but overall the slider and button interface work very well to bring an accurate control system to the series.

Upon starting the game and completing the first world I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Stages were short, the difficulty was almost non-existent and the level design was neither too exciting nor clever. Fortunately things start to pick up after this. Sure the difficulty never really tested me up until the final world but levels become more creative and you finally feel like you’re playing a true Mario game. You’ll be bouncing on ropes, avoiding giant swinging balls and even venturing through a Zelda style dungeon complete with top-down view. It really does continue to get better the more you play. Perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise however is what comes after beating the ‘final’ boss. Let’s just say that you’re only half done and the difficulty definitely spikes up rapidly offering long time Mario fans that rich challenge they’ve been yearning for.

Super Mario 3D Land silences those worries that Nintendo 3DS can’t do great looking titles showing off bright, vibrant environments and great use of the 3D capabilities. While it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to judge jumps or navigate obstacles it does make for some genuinely interesting effects and marvels. Sadly the music isn’t quite as good relying on older remixes we’ve heard before or new tunes that are fairly unmemorable. Length is not an issue as you’ll have around ninty stages in all to beat each hiding three star coins a piece. Furthermore grabbing the top of the end flagpole and beating the game with another character also provide incentive to go back and play older stages again.

So is Super Mario 3D Land the best Mario yet? No. It does have its share of shortcomings that stop it reaching the dizzying heights of other adventures unfortunately. For starters it’s a shame that the game doesn’t offer any real challenge until three or four hours in as some stages even as late as world five offer no real sense of satisfaction once cleared. These stages are also fairly short sometimes taking no more than a minute or two to finish. I understand this game is meant for on the go but surely would it have hurt to extend them a little. Often you are sat staring at the screen asking yourself “Surely that can’t be it can it?” Also while seeing the old Tanooki suit couldn’t help but bring a smile to my face, the lack of flying took the impact away slightly. Furthermore why not introduce new or bring back more classic suits? Yes it’s still fun to shoot fireball from your fingers but why not include the frog suit for swimming stages, the giant green boot or even Yoshi... Nintendo has so many past power-ups at its disposal it would be nice to see them re-imagined in 3D again. Even straight up new power ups are limited to just the one.

There are a few other small annoyances like the throwaway StreetPass feature and lacklustre music but nothing too distracting. Overall it’s not that this is a bad title, it’s just that when spoiled with the likes of Galaxy one and two you can’t help but see this as a more restricted effort. It just doesn’t have the same remarkable feeling they did.

While never reaching the brilliance of both the Galaxy titles, Super Mario 3D Land offers a solid, enjoyable experience which fans and newcomers alike will love. With plenty to do, a good challenge for even the most seasoned gamers (eventually) and the brilliant polish you’d expect from Nintendo, what you finally have is a great reason to own the Nintendo 3DS.

Score: 9/10

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March 14, 2012
Again, a considerable review with plenty of details.
March 13, 2012
well done, thorough review! Enjoyed reading this one! Thanks!
March 07, 2012
I played a little of this game in a Future Shop the other day. Its actually really fun to play. I wish I had a 3ds.
March 05, 2012
I so friggin' love this game, but I hear what you're saying about how this isn't the best Mario yet (they're all so different anyways, that I actually couldn't choose!). Great review!
More Super Mario 3D Land reviews
review by . November 17, 2011
   Back in the days of the original Gameboy, the Super Mario Lands were hailed for being relatively different from the usual Mario experience. Sure you were still stomping and such, but you faced wildly different enemies and got some very different power ups. Super Mario 3D Land is not a sequel to those games in anyway. But like the Super Mario Land games, it takes a different approach to the Mario formula while keeping in sync with what has made it successful. Here the change is mostly …
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Ryan Janes ()
Member Since: Mar 5, 2012
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Super Mario 3D Land (スーパーマリオ3Dランド, Sūpā Mario Surī Dī Rando) is a platform game in the Mario series developed by Nintendo EAD Tokyo for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was released in Japan on November 3, 2011 and in North America on November 13, 2011, and is planned to be released in Europe and Australia later in the month. It was announced at Nintendo's Keynote Conference during the 2011 Game Developers Conference held in San Francisco. The game combines elements from both classic 2D side-scrolling Mario games and modern free-roaming 3D Mario games.
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