A moustached masterpiece.
Instantly recognisable, extraordinarily charming and enduringly brilliant, Mario is a timeless patron for all that is good in video games. Encompassing a myriad of different platforms throughout his renowned history, Mario manages to captivate a new generation of gamers, whilst redefining the expectations of fans who already have their own fantastic memories of the portly plumber. Iteration after iteration, Mario spearheads ingenuity and creativity, never faltering on areas such as quality, presentation and the most important aspect of all, fun. In a generation filled with graphically gluttonous franchises, a lust for mature content and an over emphasis on style before substance, Mario will forever stand tall as the pinnacle of video game fun.
Nintendo have delivered a beautiful marriage of delightfully gorgeous graphics and timeless, perfected gameplay; one that exudes charm, magic and wonder throughout.
Once again (an often overlooked achievement), Nintendo have delivered a beautiful marriage of delightfully gorgeous graphics and timeless, perfected gameplay; one that exudes charm, magic and wonder throughout. Games like Super Mario 3D Land are the reason I, and millions of others, flock to Nintendo without a moment’s hesitation. It’s the reason why my enduring love for video games will burn eternal. For no matter how many bad decisions or distasteful practices arise during each new generation of video games, there’s one company who can transport me back to the days when I was a snotty nosed, wide-eyed child. I may be a lot older and my once, innocent outlook on life has undoubtedly changed, but one thing remains unscathed, weathering the sea of change: place a controller in my hands, give me a Mario game and, as if by magic, that same child-like smile which was firmly plastered over my face will suddenly reappear.
Smiles Better Than The Rest
Wave goodbye to whatever shred of buyer’s remorse you may have previously had from purchasing a Nintendo 3DS, because Super Mario 3D Land is the tonic we’ve all been fanatically waiting for. And boy does it hit the spot.
The story is, as though it’s now become a guilty pleasure, achingly simple. Good old Bowser (whose intentions aren’t always clear) has a hankering for some Peach so he decides to kidnap her. Mariomust overcome Bower’s goons in attempt to save his beloved Princess.
A gorgeous combination of atheistic art styles influenced by Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros and the granddaddy of them all, Super Mario 64, culminates into a fantastic graphical direction which easily grants Super Mario 3D Land the title of ‘best looking game on the Nintendo 3DS’. Cute, lovely, pretty; it’s difficult to sum up the graphical style of a Nintendo game because it simply looks like none other than an eye-wateringly beautiful, Nintendo game.
From Mario’s jolly physique, to his adorable power-up outfits; to the subtle, delicate intricacies of the astonishing level design; Super Mario 3D Land is a timeless beauty. Whether you’re admiring the puffs of smoke left in Mario’s wake as he sprints around the world, or the quirky, inventive enemy types, the presentation values are, as expected, extremely high. But what really elevates Super Mario 3D Land’s visuals to the upper echelons of greatness is the grin-inducing trickery found in the 3D display.
Pop Out Plumber
How good is the 3D effect? Technically, this is the first, fully-fledged 3D Mario game in existence. Perhaps, it will come as no surprise that Mario, who clearly has the Midas touch, is born for 3D. Each jump feels just that more perilous than ever before, igniting the creative minds at Nintendo to design more complex and creative levels using the 3D perspective. 3D isn’t merely shoehorned in for the sake of ticking boxes. You’ll need the benefits of the 3rd dimension to accomplish certain obstacles and to safely navigate your way effectively through hazardous areas. It’s a thrilling, imaginative spectacle throughout. Verdict? Crank that slider up!
Significantly, the controls are also gratifyingly responsive, with the circle pad providing effortless control, whilst the added sense of visual perception adds unprecedented confidence and manoeuvrability with each step Mario takes. It’s a testament to the console itself, proof that 3D can provide an added edge to one’s skill set, coupled with new levels of player immersion.
Redefine, Refine, Redefine, Refine
It’s an effective cycle, which has ensured that Nintendo has kept itself at the very top of the gaming world. Yes, many may claim that they’ve played it all before, it’s just another Mario game right? Yet, the surprising thing is, it is and it isn’t. Thanks to Nintendo’spassion and the pleasure they take from exciting and attracting gamers to their products, each rendition of Mario is as fresh as it was during his debut in the 1980’s. Remarkably, Super Mario 3D Land is as much of a trip down memory lane as it is a voyage into uncharted territory. And who has bad memories when it comes to either journey?
The core gameplay is essentially the same; you make your way through the levels before the timer runs out, solving simple, platform-based puzzles whilst collecting coins as you go. Levels are a delicious blast of brilliance, refined (there’s that word again) to appeal to the more time-conscious individual of the modern day world.
The player has a limited number of lives, which can be increased through collecting over 100 coins, 1UP mushrooms and attempting to land on top of the flag pole which ends the level (a first for a 3D Mario game). Mario’s form shrinks if he comes into contact with enemies, and if he’s touched again, a life will subsequently be lost. Power-ups can be obtained in the form of suits, providing Mario with the ability to throw fireballs, float through the air in the returning Tanooki suit or gain a finite amount of invincibility. All these elements mesh together to create practically the same experience fans have been enjoying since the days of the NES. And in all honesty, it’s a fantastic formula, unsurpassed to this day. The execution of complex and simple ideas is a feat to marvel, dramatically changing the whole dimension of a level or a puzzle by shifting the field of vision, or by adding a different mechanic to proceedings. For every old, tried and tested idea comes a fresh, equally as dazzling addition. All of these features are enforced by the fact Super Mario 3D Land is just pure, unadulterated fun.
Although the 3D experience cannot be enjoyed by children under 7 (turn that slider down Billy), literally anyone can pick up play Super Mario Land 3D. With 8 worlds to tackle, each with around 6 unique sub-levels; Nintendo manages to appease every man, woman or creed. Veteran players may find the initial 8 worlds as relaxing as an evening stroll with Princess Peach, however, learning from recent lessons which alienated the very folks who established the man in the Red Hat, upon completing the game, the 8 worlds are rejigged, and the difficulty is considerably increased catering to a more hardcore audience. Well done, Ninty!
Piping Hot Score
Accompanying the vibrant, colourful worlds of Super Mario Land 3D is a mesmerising, catchy and nostalgically humbling soundtrack. Recognisable re-worked themes are welcomed thanks to their infinite adaptability and endless allure. The chirps and expressions of Charles Martinet as Mario are as loveable as ever, with each coin, to squashed goomba resonating perfectly.
Mama Mia! He’s A Done It Again!
At a time when the future of dedicated handheld consoles is under question, thanks to the mobile gaming industry boom, Super Mario 3D Land is a beacon, a pillar of strength, a shot in the arm and a stark reminder of who these newcomers are dealing with. This is Nintendo we’re talking about, the godfathers of handheld gaming. If you own a Nintendo 3DS (if you don’t then go get one!), then you have to buy this game. This is Nintendo’s very essence, crafted and refined in video game form. It’s a shining of example of how they valiantly answer their on-looking sceptics who quaff as they continually attempt to break the mould. There are no gimmicks here, no smoke and mirrors; this is a video game that accomplishes everything it sets out to do and it does so with aplomb. Beautiful, timeless and enchanting, Mario is back and naturally, the fat man is THE man once again. Sit back, crank that 3D slider up, and admire a masterpiece in video game design. Wahoo!