At E3, I took a Nintendo booth tour. I saw the Wii U, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kid Icarus--the list goes on. The one title that stood out to me, that I still wanted some hands-on time with was Super Mario 3D Land. I am the 99% that likes MOST Mario-themed game and salivates every time a new title hits a system. So that’s why when I was only able to sample a few levels in the new platformer--I wanted, nay, I needed to play more.
And the wait? Totally worth it. Super Mario 3D Land is filled with little hints and nudges at longtime fans and has enough flexibility in difficulty to please any skill level who picks up the title from newcomers to seasoned pipe travelers.The nice thing about the title is the flexibility in difficulty does not come at a discount to veteran players. Pick-ups are placed at the beginning of the level if the game senses you are struggling (aka dying repeatedly on the same level). A “invincible” Tanooki suit gives players easier abilities to avoid physical obstacles--or, if you are still falling down those dreaded gaps, developers were nice enough to insert a winged pick-up that warps you to the end of the level. Sure, it gets a little frustrating if you are a veteran that’s stuck on a level, but definitely a necessary for those wunderkinds who are keen to fling expensive devices.
There are 8 worlds that span across the “save-a-the-princess” storyline--obviously the goal is to get from Point A to Point B while performing the obvious collect-a-thon game mechanics that the Mario series is known for. Each world has a smattering of levels from all Mario game-types: underground, desert, ghosts, water, fire, air and the usual mini-boss level at the end of each world. Players will likely recognize the format from Super Mario Bros 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System--as the overall aesthetic look of the game comes from there--down to the Mushroom Kingdoom Houses and screen transitions after a completion of a level.
Super Mario 3D Land feels like an amalgamation of Super Mario Brothers 3, Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy--perhaps three of the best titles in the Mario arsenal which is great news for Mario fans. There is no specific element that I can pinpoint as being specific to one game--it just feels like Nintendo took the best of those worlds and combined it into a nostalgic experience with Super Mario 3D Land. Down to the non-combative boss battles with Bowser that really tests your limits in terms of manuvering Mario around the course and obstacles. The 3D is impeccable, and it really feels like the development team really broke the mold with what the 3DS is truly capable of besides enhancing depth of field.