Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Super Mario 3D Land Review

-------My Rating System-------

A(-)(+) A top notch experience all the way through. It may not necessarily be perfect, but whatever flaws it does have won’t take you out of it or make it any less worth your time. (Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2)

B(-)(+) A very fun experience bogged down by some significant problems, whether they’re related to the story, gameplay, or both. However, it’s still a good or even great game and worth the price of admission. (Kingdom Hearts: Recoded)

C(-)(+) A mixed bag. Generally fun to some extent and may shine in some areas, but is either too flawed to fully recommend or far too short for its price. Conisder it for a reduced price, at least if you’re a fan of its genre. (Rayman 3D)

D(-)(+) Subpar. It may not be terrible, but it is severely flawed and whatever it does well ultimately fails to save it. Even if you’re a fan of the genre, this is barely a bargain bin purchase. (Sonic Heroes)

F Insipid, disgusting, despicable, and insufferable. It is a scar on the face of human accomplishments that time shall never heal. The best thing we can do is avoid playing it at all costs. It is the only way to prevent its parasitic disease of awfulness from spreading. (Shadow the Hedgehog)


I’m already almost finished with Kingdom Hearts II, and I didn’t want to review three games belonging to the same series in a row. So, to mix things up a bit, I decided that for my next review after Re:CoM, I would focus my attention on this gem that hit the 3DS last November: Super Mario 3D Land. The Mario name is basically synonymous with quality, with some of the greatest platformers of all time falling under it. In fact, 2010’s Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mario’s most recent console endeavor, is a game that I would quickly call one of my absolute favorites. So does Super Mario 3D Land, the plumber’s latest handheld adventure, live up to that standard of quality, you may be wondering.

Do you really need to ask?


Do we even need to go over the plot? It’s the same one we’ve known and grown to find so endearing over the years: Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach, Mario beats Bowser and saves Princess Peach, and they all live happily ever after until Bowser inevitably captures Princess Peach again. You’ve gotta wonder why they don’t just tighten up security…

Visually, Mario 3D Land is highly impressive. It makes fantastic use of the 3-D effect. The 3-D not only adds visual depth to the environments, but also aids in platforming, making it much easier to judge distances and see the exact positions of objects on screen. The environments themselves are just as colorful and surreal as we’ve come to expect and they’re a joy to look at in 3-D. The music is also exactly what you would expect: bright, cheery tunes and remixes of that same classic theme that will never get old. Not much more to say, really.

Well, now, it’s time to discuss gameplay. What’s really interesting about Mario 3D Land is that even though it offers a three-dimensional playing field, it plays and feels just like a classic 2-D Mario game. Rather than having a life meter, Mario once again shrinks down to size when hit and one more hit will kill him. The game has a run button like in the classics, and power-ups also work the same way that they did in the old games. They function as an extra hit point as well as giving Mario a new ability. And speaking of power-ups, the tanuki suit returns, as advertised, allowing Mario to hover in the air for a short time and do a tail attack. There is also a new power-up: the Boomerang Suit, which, well…allows Mario to throw boomerangs. It’s pretty useful not only for defeating enemies but for collecting coins and Star Medals, which are collectibles that open up extra levels. In addition, the propeller block returns from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, launching Mario up into the air a short distance and allowing him to slowly descend.

The style of level design in Mario 3D Land is also reminiscent of the classics, being a lot simpler and more compact than that of its console-based older brothers. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While the level designs are simple and compact, the creativity and wackiness of the Galaxy titles are still here in spades with the simplicity (alongside the other classic elements of the game) serving to add a sort of “back to basics” feel to it. The level designs are overall just as creative, diverse, and most importantly, fun as we have come to expect from the series and are the main reason why it’s such an amazing game. The levels are ridiculously enjoyable to play, and that’s not even going into all of the secrets they hold. Amazing stuff.

Now, it is worth noting that the main mode of Super Mario 3D Land is pretty short. It will likely take about two days to complete at best. However, upon completing the main story, you will actually unlock an extra set of eight worlds called Special Worlds. These worlds are mostly remixes of the previous levels that focus on a certain gimmick or make you complete it in a short amount of time, although there are a few all-new levels. There are also several levels in which you are chased by a shadow version of Mario that copies all of your actions, and you’ll take damage if it catches up to you. A lot of the levels of the Special Worlds are actually really difficult, especially toward the end, and playing through them will add a lot of longevity to the experience and ensure that the game will be well worth the price.

There is only one problem I have with Super Mario 3D Land: the lack of boss variety. I don’t mind this much with Bowser himself since, well, fights against him tend to play out similarly each time no matter what game you’re playing. My problem lies with the mini-bosses. There are only two different mini-bosses: a Koopa that spins around like a top and a Koopa that attacks you with her boomerang. Things really don’t change much between fights and they’re really easy to defeat besides. Sometimes the arena will be different, but that generally doesn’t do much to make things more difficult. At least with Bowser, it gets significantly harder each time you fight him. It’s not a severe problem, but it is there.

The Good:

+ Great visuals
+ 3D effect works great
+ Classic elements work for it
+ Level designs are brilliant
+ Plenty of secrets
+ Special Worlds add longevity to the game

The Bad:

- Mini-bosses are too easy and fought the same way each time


After all is said and done, Super Mario 3D Land is yet another masterpiece starring the fat, red-and-blue-clad plumber. It’s pure platforming joy throughout its entire duration and I would actually call it one of my favorite Mario games. It’s easily the best game on 3DS right now and I would even say it’s the main reason to own one at the moment. It’s absolute bliss and I highly recommend. With all that said, see ya later.

Grade: A

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