Hands-On: Super Mario 3D Land

A look at Mario’s latest 3D adventure.

As sure as Wednesday will follow Tuesday, a Nintendo console will have a Mario platformer of some description, even if it comes out a while after launch.  The 3DS is no exception, and Super Mario 3D Land attempts to combine old school 2D Mario gameplay with a 3D world.  While this creates an experience that is more linear than previous 3D Mario titles, it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

As you’d expect, Super Mario 3D Land is brightly coloured and cheerful, as Mario runs and leaps around.  This time around, the Stars have gone back to being invincibility power ups instead of being collectables to access later levels.  A lot of other elements from 2D Mario games have been brought back for this installment, such as the level time limits, the end of level flagpole, the removal of the life meters in favour of the mushroom and fire flower power up system, and, of course, the return of the Tanooki suit.  While, as previously, you can float with the suit and attack enemies with your tail, it seems as though you can’t fly with it.  The levels are noticably shorter as well.  There were four levels in the demo, which could all be completed in around 10 minutes.

The usual assortment of bad guys was present in the demo we played, such as Goombas, Pirahna Plants and Koopa Troopers.  There were interesting variations as well, featuring Goombas floating around with Tanooki tails and black Pirahnas that spit ink at the screen, impeding your view for a while.  You even come across wooden Goomba pictures that you can destroy.

This being a Nintendo first party game, the 3D has been implemented in a very interesting way.  Sometimes, with the 3D switched off, it can be difficult to get around as you can’t tell where certain blocks and platforms are because of the camera perspective.  Slide the 3D on, though, and suddenly it all becomes clear.  It’s little touches like this that make the 3D function quite important.  If the 3D hurts your eyes, though, you’ll only be using it for a few seconds, then you can turn it off again.

If you are a fan of the dungaree clad plumber’s adventures, then you’ll love this.  The combination of familiar, old school Mario concepts and newer ideas that make full use of 3DS functionality make this a hugely enjoyable game which everyone can get into.  Nintendo seem to have once again come up trumps with their formula of taking classic Mario gameplay, and adding a twist that makes use of the technology it’s on.  If you own a 3Ds, you should pick this game up when it’s released.

Super Mario 3D Land is scheduled for release on November 3rd in Japan, November 13th in North America and November 18th in the EU.

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Mike is Brutal Gamer's Indie Editor. He has been playing video games since the early 90s and is fond of racing games, puzzlers and MMOs. Typing /played while in WoW makes him cry, but not enough to stop him playing some more.
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Posted by Mike Jones | 3DS, Expo, Preview