Nintendo’s most famous icon is back, again. Super Mario 3D Land is the latest Mario game from the developers at Nintendo. Revealed at E3, Super Mario 3D Land is a fresh Mario experience that bears many similarities to the Wii smash hit title Super Mario Galaxy while borrowing some aspects from classic titles. Utilising the 3DS capabilities this new Mario adventure packs high detail graphics, the classic Mario gameplay we’ve come to expect over the years and of course 3D plane gameplay all in the palm of your hands.
Much like the other games in the series, Super Mario 3D Land features the usual cast from the world of Mario. You have the likes of Mario, Luigi, Princess and several others. However this is no ordinary Mario game. This title mixes some of elements from Mario games past and present and creates an experience that will go down as one of the best in the series. The game adopts the top-down view and works exactly how Galaxy on the Wii would. You start the level on a 3D plane and can move in a 360 degree direction. The game does throw variety in there in the form of changing planes. In every level you’ll come across moments that bear resemblance to the Super Mario games of old in the form of putting you on a 2D camera angle. Things are shaken up throughout levels with hidden stars and power-up cleverly hidden behind cubes and walls you thought weren’t reachable and provides a stern challenge in spotting them.
Levels in Super Mario 3D Land contain the uniqueness you’d expect. It ranges from grassy fields to dingy dungeon settings. The beauty isn’t the level design itself, but how the game has you explore these levels. Each level you play through has its fair share of puzzles and enemies. Puzzles have some variety and randomness to them and some require you to think on the spot with the aim of getting across the ledge or getting to a pipe to pop down. One scene in particular had me following steps that were being created in front of me whilst the steps behind were disappearing. Continually the steps were changing direction and course and I had to be weary of where to step next.
The controls will seem very familiar to those who have played any 3DS/DS title before. The usual A button on the 3DS is used to jump. Y is used to slam down on an enemy whilst in mid-air. A tap of the touch screen will launch any power-ups above your head before floating down in front of your path. A tap of the R button will see Mario do a barrel roll which can be used to defeat enemies efficiently. The B button will make use of any power-ups special ability if you have any active. Also a new is the use of the 3DS’s gyroscope. Walking across tightropes will initiate a sequence where you have to tilt and weave the 3DS to keep your character alive.
Enemies on the other hand will seem very familiar. The same ensemble cast rears its head again. Piranha plants and goombas make their appearance to name a few. Of course it wouldn’t be a Mario game without power-ups. Super Mario 3D Land makes use of the second 3DS screen in indicating which power-ups you have. These range from the beaver suit to the flame suit. A new element has been implemented with these power-ups. Gone is the timed use of each power but instead granting the player free use until they either get hit or fall off dying.
The 3D effect in the title is somewhat of a showboat by Nintendo. Paired with amazing 2D graphics, the game does an astonishing job of giving that 3D effect. With the slider ramped up to full the game gives off an amazing picture with no distortion or losing of colour or depth. Smart use of 3D sees enemies and traps appear in great detail.
Each of the four levels of Super Mario 3D Land we played showed off what we can expect when the game launches. The game may have been missing from the 3DS launch line-up but this is by far one of the best Mario games to come out of Nintendo. The dynamic 2D/3D hybrid levels adds a different layer to the games already stable image and adds another dimension in terms of gameplay. Every 3DS owner should play this game.
Super Mario 3D Land is set to launch sometime in 2011 exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS. Pre-order your copy here.