3DS Review: Super Mario 3D Land

In Mario’s latest handheld adventure Princess Peach has been kidnapped, again, and now it’s up to Mario to rescue her across 8 new worlds from King Bowser. This is the same old Mario formula that’s worked for years, but there’s always some new gimmick in the games to keep it fresh. With Super Mario 3D Land, there are 2 actually. Do they improve the formula, or is Mario finally showing his age?

One of these gimmicks is the return of the Tanooki suit. The interesting tidbit here is that Mario’s enemies now have the tail as well making for some hilarious transformations. Along with the Tanooki suit, there are mushrooms, fire flowers, and even a boomerang suit akin to the hammer bro suit from Mario 3. And like the last Mario portable, you have a sub slot for a spare power. The other gimmick is that fact that it’s in 3D and may be the best the system has to offer so far. Coins, fire, and even Mario will pop out at you. The 3D also adds a nice sense of depth to the levels. It doesn’t add to the gameplay, but damn does it look cool.

The gameplay is the same as the other Mario games. Run and jump across levels to reach the flagpole. Mario levels are never long, but they feel shorter here, which is great for portable play. The visuals themselves are pretty close to its Wii predecessors. The viewpoint of the levels is sort of side/top down in placement. It’s fun and fresh for the most part, but a little easy. For those wanting more of a challenge, there is a special quest after the completion of the game. I won’t give it away, but I will say this second run through may be better than the first’s.

Overall, again, Mario is Mario. This is a good game packed full of solid gameplay and a lot of content, but its formula is a little stale. This may stem from the fact that the visual style hasn’t changed much in years. The only times the formula gets to change are in the Paper Mario, RPG, and sports titles. Whatever system, presumably the Wii U, the next main Mario game is released on, I’m hoping it’ll have a dramatic change to either the gameplay or the visual style. But that’s a story for another day.

Score: 4/5 Stars

Special Notes: This article was originally published on January 9, 2012 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.

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