Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS has convinced me that three dimensional effects can actually add to a game’s overall experience.
The recent remake of Ocarina Of Time on the 3DS looked amazing, but the 3D effect really didn’t alter the game’s gameplay in any meaningful way. In Super Mario 3D Land, it’s almost impossible to play the game with 3D disabled (something I’ve actually done with other 3DS titles). The extra spatial sense that the added dimension provides, makes traversing the game’s vibrantly designed levels significantly easier and way more fun. The game also utilizes the three dimensions to their full effect, enemies pop out from the screen and the game uses certain camera angles in order to emphasize the 3D effect even further.
Generally, Super Mario 3D Land feels like a mix between Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and Mario Bros. 3. This combination creates an interesting concoction of classic and more recent Mario gameplay – it also works surprisingly well. New elements are thrown into the traditional Mario formula as well, including unique enemies (the lady bug is my favorite), abilities and fresh gameplay mechanics. Sidescrolling through a level and jumping on bungie cord tight ropes between platforms is rather awesome. These new features give Super Mario Land 3D a very fresh feeling. This isn’t the same Mario you’ve played many times before, but then in other ways, it actually still is.
Very similar to the Super Mario Galaxy franchise, Super Mario Land 3D switches between multiple perspectives. In one instance, Mario will be running along like a traditional Mario sidescrolling title and the next you’ll have complete freedom of movement, just like in Super Mario 64. Usually these transitions between perspectives are seamless, but occasionally they can be jarring and down-right annoying.
Graphically, Super Super Mario Land 3D looks great, rivaling the graphical prowess that is Super Mario Galaxy. Levels are filled with intricate details and colourful designs. Its sound is equally pleasing, remixing some of the Mario franchise’s most storied tunes and sound effects, giving them a more modern twist.
The title’s online features are pretty sparse and tacked on though. Streetpass allows you to unlock mystery boxes that are linked to timed challenge rooms. This is an interesting feature but is pretty underwhelming. I can’t help but wish the game had an actual two player co-operate mode like what was included in New Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Land 3D also manages to appeal to the nostalgic Mario fan in a number of ways. The inclusion of the fan favorite flying raccoon Tanooki suite is great, as are the flag poles located at the end of each level, but there are also more subtle appeals at nostalgia that only the most attentive Mario fan may notice. My personal favorite involved getting past Bowser and hitting a switch behind him. The bridge underneath him disappeared and he fell into the lava below – just like many of the boss battles in Mario Land on the original Gameboy worked. There’s also a scene at the end of every level where Mario finds an empty princess-less castle (of course Bowser has stolen her again) and a letter, just like in the classic Mario titles.
Super Mario Land 3D is a relatively easy game; the average gamer could probably blow through the first 8 worlds in only a few hours. It’s not until the games game’s eighth world that the difficulty ramps up significantly. After completing the game, a set of extremely difficult challenge levels is unlocked, offering rearranged level that will keep hardcore gamers busy for many extra hours.
Of course, there are also collectibles, similar to what was present in the Super Mario Galaxy franchise, Super Mario Land 3D features three special coins that are scattered through every level in the game. Finding these coins is extremely challenging and will stump and probably frustrate even the most seasoned Mario fans. A certain amount of these coins is also necessarily to progress through a few of the game’s levels, so if you don’t have enough when the time comes to pay up, prepare to do a lot of back tracking.
To combat the game’s later difficult levels it offers the player the opportunity to use optional special invincibility abilities to aid your travels to the end of the course. In general Super Mario Land 3D’s levels are relatively short and can usually be completed in only one or two minutes. However, this fits perfectly with the 3DS’s portability and allows the game to be played in short casual bursts.
Super Mario 3D Land is about speed and precise platforming execution rather than exploration, this is a wonderfully classic change of pace for the Mario series. The 3DS is in dire need of an absolutely flawless system selling game – Super Mario 3D Land certainly delivers in this department.
- It’s Mario and it’s fun
- The 3D is amazing and actually changes how the game plays
- The graphics are the best on the 3DS
- It’s designed perfectly for short bursts of play
- The game is relatively short
- The difficult level is unbalanced, at times it’s super hard and at other times it’s insanely easy
- It lacks any significant online features or any kind of multiplayer
Overall Score: 9/10
Recomendation: Buy it! What other 3DS game are you going to play until Mario Kart 7 is released anyway?