Despite its horrific sales, the WiiU was one hell of a console. Nintendo were on fire over the lifetime of the console, releasing a swathe of absolutely fantastic games. One of those games was Super Mario 3D World, a follow up from the 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land. It mixed traditional 3D gameplay with a quasi-isometric viewpoint and plenty of unique mechanics to create a Mario game that was different to anything before it. Now, as part of Nintendo’s strategy of bringing every notable WiiU game to the Switch, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is here.
At its most basic, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is an expanded remaster of the original WiiU release. The original game now runs at 1080p in docked mode, with handheld mode running at the same 720p resolution as the WiiU release. This brings a bit more sharpness and clarity to the game. Meanwhile Bowser’s Fury runs at 720p in both modes. The movement speed has also been increased in this new release, making the game feel much better in practice. It’s not necessarily a lot of work that’s been done, but 3D World was already a fantastic looking game and it still looks great today.
What really made the original Super Mario 3D World such a good game was Nintendo’s willingness to create completely unique one-off levels and mechanics. You’ll frequently jump into levels to find a completely unique or new mechanic, keeping the game fresh all the way through to the end. This also translates into the world itself, with levels introducing new design mechanics and sometimes even styles that keep you interested. Even today, Super Mario 3D World still feels unique and interesting.
Why really ties it together are the mechanics of the game itself, which feel ultra responsive. This is aided by the increase in movement speed, with the original game feeling a little sluggish in general. Mario turns on a dime and bursts off the block running, with pinpoint platform being a breeze thanks to the controls. Couple this with an amazing soundtrack and Super Mario 3D World is still an incredible game today.
Where Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury really takes the cake is in the limelight stealing Bowser’s Fury. Bowser’s Fury feels almost like an evolution of Super Mario Sunshine, but with significantly better controls and as an open world. It combines the tight controls and inventive level design of Super Mario 3D World with a new open-world design conceit and ever present kaiju threat, creating an experience that I hope is a vision of the future of the series.
Upon starting the game you’re presented with Bowser Jr desperately asking for help from his father’s sworn enemy, Mario. Bowser has been infected by a black, tar-like substance that has turned him into a mindless giant monster filled with fury. For his father’s sake, Bowser Jr is willing to do anything. In this case, teaming up with Mario either as a co-op player or an AI to save Bowser. As an AI partner, Bowser Jr is a hilarious (and incredibly effective, force on the battlefield. Some of my favourite moments in the game came from him bopping enemies off ledges to their doom.
Your alliance forged, the game opens up and lets you decide what you want to do. Initially, there’s only a small portion of the map unlocked, but even in that smaller area there are still multiple objectives. There are three different stages you can start with, each signposted with a starting gate to let you know where to begin. These stages can be standard platforming levels, combat arenas, puzzle-centric areas and more, with each also having five cat shine shards to find. Each completed stage (or finding all five shards) gives you a cat shine, which you’ll need to trigger the Giga Bell, but more on that later.
All of these stages and levels can be triggered by wandering to the beginning or just by wandering into the stage at any point. There are also secrets to find, such as other cat shines in smaller trigger-able areas or power ups and coins. The stages are all unique in design as well, with different styles and mechanical conceits between them. Combine this with the ability to store and trigger power ups at any point, and Bowser’s Fury is the most open and free Mario game there is.
As you’re completing stages and traversing the world, Bowser is gradually charging up. Eventually, a storm will kick in as Bowser awakes and begins to wreak havoc upon the world. Fireballs fall from the sky, beams of flame cover the screen and spikes of rock stick out of the earth. The ever present threat pushes you to quickly progress, otherwise you’ll have to deal with Bowser while completing stages- something which can get frustrating at times. There are also certain areas and secrets that are only accessible while Bowser is active, so make sure to explore while he’s out.
To bring a stop to Bowser you need to do one of two things: collect a cat shine or trigger the giga bell. Collecting a cat shine deals a small amount of damage to Bowser and causes him to flee, but he’ll be back and fighting fit soon enough. Once you have enough cat shines you can trigger the giga bell, a giant bell that transforms Mario into a giant super saiyan-like cat. In this form you can fight Bowser on even footing, pushing him and his black ooze further back and revealing more of the world.
It really is unlike anything else in a Mario game before, and the only problems with it are minor and could come down to this being a side-mode as opposed to a full game. The World feels a little sparse, with large tracts of water that are traversed on the back Plessie. The framerate also isn’t completely stable, with plenty of drops from the 60 fps target, but it never gets bad enough to impact on the game itself.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury provides both a slightly improved version of a past game and a new, fresh experience in one package. It all feels fantastic to play and looks great to boot. My complaints are relatively small, really being minor niggles than anything else. Make sure you don’t skip this release, because you’d be missing out if you did.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury was reviewed on a regular Nintendo Switch, with a review copy provided by Nintendo. For more information, check the official website.
- Faster movement speed in 3D World is a god send
- Even after all these years, 3D World still looks and feels fantastic
- Bowser's Fury is a unique and interesting take on the Mario formula
- Framerate in Bowser's Fury can get choppy - A bit more down to 3D World itself would've been nice