Gamers who’ve been waiting for a brand new Mario title to justify the purchase of a Wii U have something cool, and unusual, to expect in Super Mario 3D World. It’s not quite a console-defining experience as Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy or even the similarly-titled Super Mario World, but rather a toybox filled with successful elements from past, slightly more obscure games, and a sprinkle of new ideas.
The most obvious element of Super Mario 3D World is its status as a kind of spin-off to the 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land. It has the same sorta-isometric camera angle as that game, along with the smaller areas and focused linear level design. There are no stars, only the goal post at the end to reach. The puzzle rooms from 3D Land return as well, although since they lack the 3D screen there’s no cool depth effects to goggle at, just some careful platforming.
The other main inspiration for 3D World seems to be Super Mario Bros 2, although that doesn’t mean you’ll be picking up vegetables and tossing them around. The game is a 4-player co-op adventure, with the same character selection as the NES sequel, namely Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach. They even have their unique abilities from that game as well, such as Luigi’s high jump and Peach’s awesome temporary hover.
The big new power-up is the Golden Bell, which transforms any of the characters into the new Cat form. Similar to the Flying Squirrel and Tanooki power-ups, the Golden Ball fits the characters into a new cat suit, enabling them to crawl up vertical surfaces (even the goal post at the end of the level, for an easy 1-Up!) and perform a lunging attack.
Another addition are glass pipes, serving to mix-up the gameplay with a little Pac-Man. You can control your character as they move through these transparent pipes, which are arranged in a simple maze, as you’re able to make turns and collect items along the way. However, fireballs and other obstacles can stalk these glass pipes, requiring you to carefully time your movements and entrance – hence the Pac-Man feel.
Super Mario 3D World does feel like a remix of lots of older Mario elements, with a few new ones thrown in, just like New Super Mario Bros. U. As with that game, this is one that’ll be a lot more fun with friends. At the moment, the Gamepad isn’t used extensively, although I’m sure Nintendo will find a way to work a few gimmicks in there. Overall, it may not be the console-justifier some were hoping for, but it’s guaranteed to be a lot of fun.