Review: Super Mario 3D Land


Nintendo’s most-loved character makes his platforming debut in a title that feels both familiar and revolutionary…

Having recently dabbled in both the gravity-defying Mario Galaxy and the nostalgic New Super Mario Bros; Nintendo’s message of what a Mario game should be has never seemed more confusing. Super Mario 3D Land sets the record straight, and is the series most encouraging entry since Super Mario World on the SNES.

While nearly exclusively playing Nintendo platforms, I’ve grown accustomed to playing the latest Mario game. I enjoyed the original 3D gameplay of Mario 64, I disliked the pre-school difficulty of New Super Mario, and I loved Mario Galaxy in it’s entirety. When Nintendo first unveiled Super Mario 3D Land my reaction was mixed. It looked like it mixed Galaxy with New Super Mario Bros, and as I loved the Galaxy games; I was dreading their challenge being diluted.

The P Wing, Be Ashamed!

My fears were unfounded. Despite the games inclusion of Miyamoto’s “Super Guide”, the difficulty level is just about right. Should you die seven times in one area a P block will appear, giving you the invincible Tanooki suit. Giving you a jump similar to Yoshi’s flutter jump in Galaxy 2 and invincibility. The levels themselves are generally very small and compact, ideal for the pick-up and play style of a handheld.

The game is setup like New Super Mario or Galaxy 2 with Mario walking past an icon representing that level rather than a confusing 3D hub-world. Each level has three hidden Star Coins, which are increasingly hard to find. In each world there’s a mushroom hut you need to pay coins to enter; to receive a gift from Toad.

The Tanooki suit, Meh…

Overall the power-ups in the game are mediocre. The most obvious one being the Tanooki suit, making Mario resemble a Raccon, with the extended jump, but lacks the ability to fly like you could in Super Mario World. Clearly a design choice considering the games compact levels. The Boomerang suit gives you the unnecessary ability to throw a boomerang to take out enemies, but the highlight is the Propeller Box;, which adds a high jump much like Mario’s spin jump in Galaxy. The real benefit of this is seen in the levels where the camera perspective switches to a birds eye view.

The game controls just like any other 3D Mario title. The circle pad controls movement, A or B jump, Y or X to attack, L to enter a pipe, and the touch screen controls your Power Ups. You can also run by holding Y or X and the circle pad in the direction you wish to go.

Beautiful underwater lighting…

Graphically the game is beautiful, with all of the classic Mario staples returning in bright vibrancy. Blocks, tress, floating platforms as well as Goombas, Pirahna Plants, and even Boom Boom! It’s the little touches here and there which may appear small, but overall make this one pretty package. Footprints remain in the mud or sand, enemies explode into puffs of smoke, the lighting, the shadows, it all makes the game feel like Galaxy in your pocket!

The game features the finest example of the 3DS’s 3D effect. If Wii Sports is used to show people the Wii’s unique features, the same will be said for Super Mario 3D Land.

The game also makes use of the systems Streetpass ability. Should you pass another player whilst your system is in sleep mode, data will be swapped resulting in a mini-game being added to your game. Which could earn you extra Star Coins or lives.

Platforming At Its Best!

Super Mario 3D Land will forever remain within reach of my 3DS as it is not only the perfect example of a fantastic portable experience but what Nintendo wants the 3DS to be. The 3DS may not have had the greatest start but if enough people pick this title up this holiday and show their friends and families the 3DS could quite easily beat the original DS’s lifetime sales. This Mario title is quite simply, what every 3D Mario should have been, to reach the commercial successes of the 2D Mario titles.

Thank you Nintendo.

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