Power-ups often play an integral role in any Mario adventure and that’s certainly no different here. Of course the real highlight is the new cat suit complete with claw attacks, pouncing and wall climbing. Not merely just a cute outfit, the suit allows players to reach higher sections and explore otherwise unreachable hidden areas. The double cherry, another new addition produces a duplicate of your character mimicking your every move. Collect enough and you’ll find yourself commanding a small army of Marios or Toads. It’s fantastic. Returning favourites are also present with the fire flower, mega mushroom, tanooki suit and starman among others rounding off what is a pretty wide range of abilities for the plumber and friends. Like the stages themselves, the power ups are never overused and most importantly great fun to use.
If you’ve played Super Mario 3D Land you should feel right at home here. Movement feels more akin to the plumber’s 2D adventures with running performed by holding a button rather than based on how far you push the analogue. No triple jumps, punches or kicks here either but the usual range of butt stomping, long jumping and back flipping abilities do make their return. Of course the big new addition this time around comes in the form of Mario’s lankier brother, Toad and Princess Peach each of whom have their own unique attributes. Toad for example is super quick at the cost of a weighty low jump height. Peach meanwhile, the slowest of the four retains her floating ability from Super Mario Bros 2 making her an ideal choice for beginners. Mario keeps the trend of being the all rounder and finally Luigi sports the highest leap whilst also having the worst traction. Unlike the New Super Mario series, the character selection here isn’t purely for cosmetic purposes but rather to give the player the chance to tackle stages in a number of ways.
Taking a leaf from Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros series, up to four players can play the game simultaneously (a first for any home console 3D Mario title). Whereas the 2D games have suffered from the added chaos with multiple players on screen, 3D World actually plays surprisingly well. Sure there is still chaos as you battle it out to collect power-ups and accumulate the higher score, but the extra space of the 3D plane means it’s a far more controlled chaos. A fun chaos. To accommodate these extra players, platforms start off feeling much bigger and more accommodating than past Mario titles resulting in an easier difficulty curve. Challenge seekers, don’t threat as this soon changes around world five onwards which only escalates further again as you reach the final handful of worlds. Working together with friends works well for the first time in any Mario platformer and alone the difficulty feels right too (even if it takes it’s time to reach that sweet spot).
While Nintendo’s past Wii U efforts have certainly looked nice, Super Mario 3D World is the first that truly feels like a next generation product - its visuals gorgeous and art design constantly excelling at every turn. While lately the focus has been on what the newly released Xbox One and PS4 are capable of graphically, 3D World proves the Wii U, despite being the weakest of the bunch can still deliver truly jaw dropping visuals. The music too is as memorable as the game’s looks, combining upbeat jazzy tunes with remixes and a whole assortment of other music genres. Of course the soundtrack is fully orchestrated once more with every track truly living up to the already high standards the series is known for.
Super Mario 3D World is an absolute must for any Wii U owner and one of the best games of 2013. While not as ambitious as the Galaxy series before it, 3D World delivers a truly unforgettable experience whether you’re going it alone or playing with friends.
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