Super Mario: 3D Land
Release Date: November 13th, 2011
- Each level has a unique personality
- Platforming starts basic but soon becomes challenging
- Hidden rewards beg world exploration
- 3D adds a lot to the game
- No shortage of extra lives
- Star Coins soon become a necessity for progression
Mario games come with many expectations; you will navigate a world to its finish, you will face challenging platforming obstacles, and each world will culminate in a castle with a Bowser goon at the end. Yet, with the latest Princess Peach kidnapping, Super Mario 3D Land somehow manages to maintain the charm and fun of a Mario game without making it feel like another Mario game that was created for the sake of keeping a standard title per platform.
Bowser, we both know how this ends
The utilization of the 3D technology to add depth to each level is where this game really stands out (pardon the pun). This ranges from the fun of having Bullet Bills fly at the screen or piranha plants that spit goo to blind you, to the more practical use of having platforms stand out and allowance for navigation of the terrain. The camera is fixed in place, allowing the developer to give a forced perspective to enhance the overall intended feeling for each segment of a level. It is a simple concept that makes for a more immersive game all around.
The name of the game is platforming, and it is something of an art at this point. Tightropes, disappearing platforms, and platforms alternating with every jump adorn all eight worlds and push your abilities to their limits. Each level has a memorable aspect or personality to it with a simple trope that is arranged in a multitude of ways. Ghost manor levels will feature a slew of Boo enemies and trick doors, while the castle courses involve navigating stone platforms amongst the lava. If you have a favorite kind of Mario level, you will find an iteration of it in some way with this title.
Running in circles helps a lot!
Each level is structured to be completed fairly quickly, but exploration is rewarded with a slew of different bonuses. Star Coins are your primary means of progression, and three are scattered in each level. While you will find these to be plentiful enough to continue the main worlds, you may find yourself revisiting levels to find coins tucked away in corners in order to fully complete the latter unlocked secret worlds. One ups, powerups, and shortcuts are plentiful and often trekking away from the straight forward goal will net you a positive reward in one way or another.
Your expected tools are at your disposal for navigating the terrain and disposing of enemies. Fire flowers to quickly stamp out baddies, Tanooki suits to fly over pits, and even Boomerang suits to give the enemies a taste of their own medicine. The Propeller Block works really well with the 3D technology and many stages are tailored for the high flying leaps it provides. After dying five times on a stage, you will find a special Tanooki suit that will assist in traversing the level, and after ten times a P-Wing that will warp you straight to the end. It is a nice crutch for those who love Mario but find the courses too challenging. This only works on the main eight worlds and not the more difficult secret worlds.
There are memorable levels, challenging courses, and some of the most engaging platforming you could ask for in a Mario game. Further proof that Mario is timeless, everything about Super Mario 3D Land just works great. The feel and flow of navigating Mario to the finish and satisfaction on reaching the flag at the end is unmatched, and the application of the 3D technology only makes the finish that much sweeter. Hunting every star coin will take some time, and Luigi is even unlocked for a little added variety, but the secret worlds opened after completion of the main game rehash all of the courses with a different spin to provide the real challenge. Super Mario 3D Land is still the game I expected, but exceeded those expectations in more ways than one.