Super Mario 3D Land Review
Super Mario 3D Land:
Nintendo’s EAD Tokyo studio, who made Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, as well as the two Super Mario Galaxy games, never worked on a portable system before making Super Mario 3D Land. Fortunately, they have some kind of inherent knowledge about how to make a fantastic portable experience, as they created a game that doesn’t only excel at being a great Mario game, but also at being an amazing portable game in its own right.
I spent the first half of Super Mario 3D Land believing that I was playing the easiest Mario platformer ever. That soon turned out to not be the case at all. The simplistic early levels turn out to be nothing more than a ploy to lure the player into a false sense of security before drastically ramping up the difficulty. Or, if you’d like to take a more positive note, they get you acquainted with Mario’s new abilities, some of the enemies and obstacles you’ll face, as well as the new control scheme.
The game controls like you would expect from a 2D Mario game in a 3D space. This is made even more apparent due to the inclusion of a run button, something that was never featured in analog control Mario games. Wall jumps are still around, but strangely, backflips can only be pulled off when moving. This can make some of the platforming slightly more difficult. Regardless, once you learn the rules, the controls work. Outside of a few depth of field issues, the controls never failed me.
Much like in Super Mario Bros. 3, the levels are bite-sized. A proficient player could blast through a majority of the game pretty quickly, especially if they held on to the Tanooki Suit. However, even if you do take your time to explore and find all the marvelously well-hidden Star Coins, none of the levels are more than about 5 minutes long. It succeeds perfectly as being a game you can just pick up and play a few levels when you’ve got some time to kill.
The 3D effects in the game look fantastic, and aided me in my quest, for the most part. However, there were a few times where I felt the 3D betrayed me, as I had immense difficulty judging distances. This could possibly stem from the fact I wasn’t quite used to the 3D, but since there isn’t another game like this, this might be a common issue for most players.
Super Mario 3D Land is packed with content, with eight main worlds containing five or six levels each (in addition to a surprising amount of bonus levels). The boss battles, featured at the conclusion of each world, include a variety of call-backs from previous games, including rematches with Boom-Boom from SMB3. However, these can range from challenging and fun to downright repetitive and lame. The best are definitely the Bowser-focused ones which feature platforming instead of direct boss interaction. All around, the available power-ups are great and feel empowering, with the exception of the propeller block, which makes for a cool 3D effect but lacks any meaningful gameplay.
EAD Tokyo’s 3DS debut is wonderful, and is filled to the brim with seemingly endless creativity. While it may take a while to build up, and it lacks the rich variety of secrets you’ve come to expect from games like Mario 3 and Super Mario World, Super Mario 3D Land eventually becomes a demanding and addictive platformer. It’s also easily one of the most beautiful 3DS games, as well as one of the best-looking Mario titles. If you own a 3DS, you should definitely consider picking up Super Mario 3D Land. It’ll last you quite a long time, and it’s a superb new Mario game.
Final Score: 9