Super Mario 3D Land 3DS Review – It’s Tanooki Fever!
Release Date: Nov. 13, 2011
Rated: E – Everyone
The 3DS hasn’t quite flaunted its optimal potential. It has been many slow and tedious months for 3DS owners due to its bare selection of enticing titles since its debut. Yes, there are honourable mentions such as Street Fighter IV and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, but these are simply ports and 3DS owners are craving for something original. SM3DL is that original 3DS title designed from the ground up to take advantage of the hardware’s unique features and capabilities. Is this the beginning of the end for the 3D handheld’s drought or will 3DS owners simply have to endure more suffering?
The escapade opens with a lone standing tree in the midst of a violent storm. This is no ordinary tree, it so happens to be blossoming with super leaves. The vicious gusts strip the leaves off the tree’s branches and are then scattered throughout the Mushroom Kingdom. The following day, Toad and Mario notice the leaves are missing and discover a letter from Bowser; yes once again the Princess has been kidnapped. Mario must scurry through the Mushroom Kingdom to pursue his reptilian nemesis (and repeat offender) all in order to rescue his maiden in distress.
SM3DL is another traditional Mario platformer but with a modern day twist. The title plays similarly to past iterations of the series; hobble through various obstacle stages and reach the goal at the end in order to progress. The simplest way to describe this experience is that it plays like 2D Mario games but with a 3D facelift. In this adventure Mario will jump and dash through both side-scrolling and fully exportable stages similarly to Super Mario 64 and Galaxy (just a tad smaller). Furthermore, players will be able to have more freedom and control thanks to the 3DS’ circle pad. Though, what truly separates this entry from previous instalments is its exceptional use of the 3DS’ capabilities. This is one of the first 3DS titles that the 3D doesn’t feel like a forced or a tacked on gimmick; rather it immerses players further into the experience. 3D makes it much easier to judge distances, which is especially prominent while free falling. It truly enhances the gameplay!
The game supports a simple control scheme that welcomes players of all skill levels. The main controls are the traditional two button run and jump actions paired alongside the 3DS’ circle pad for movement. Mario can also perform long jumps, back flips, and crouches in combination with the 3DS’ shoulder buttons; though sadly Mario’s famous triple jump has been omitted. This simple control scheme enables a small learning curve, so all newcomers and youngsters will feel at ease. To further iterate the game’s approachable nature, it also automatically adjusts its difficulty to suit the players’ ability. Newer (and lazy) gamers will appreciate the special items that appear when they meet their deaths repeatedly. These assist items include a white tanooki power suit that offers invincibility throughout the whole stage as well as a wing power up, that will warp players to the flag pole at the end of the level. Determined players do not have to accept these items, they can proceed through the stages on their own terms. These features are a great addition and it helps to bridge the gap between hardcore and casual gamers, giving both an opportunity to enjoy the adventure in a way that best suits their needs.
The game looks absolutely brilliant on the handheld screens. It’s not quite as impressive as Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii, but it is most definitely is a well polished title that you have come to expect from Nintendo. Each world has its own unique feel such as fiery lava terrain, deep ocean crevasses, and classic 8-bit backdrops. To top it off, all levels are exclusively crafted with their own individual mechanics that require the player to adapt in order to survive. The game’s 3D effects are especially impressive; grains of sand, flakes of snow, broken debris and explosions will all protrude from the screen. This may be an overwhelming feature to some which the developers have recognized this, thus they have included an in-game 3D adjustment with a simple tap of the d-pad.
3D Land pays homage to the series ‘extensive timeline, most notably Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES. Veteran players will instantly recognize traditional power ups such as the popular tanooki and fire suits, but also they will be introduced to new power ups such as the propeller block and boomerang suit. Musically, the game has a phenomenal soundtrack that borrows from the series’ rich and eventful history. These tunes will have you humming their classical melodies long after you hit the power button.
The main adventure will set the average gamer back around 4-5 hours. This may sound like a disappointment to some, but I assure you it’s what awaits you after the main campaign that makes all the difference (this review’s score as well). These special extras and secrets that await the most skilful and dexterous are a delightful surprise. There also hundreds of hidden star coins to collect throughout the world which are a testament to one’s platforming skills. The only real complaint with SM3DL is a minor one; it poorly incorporates the 3DS’ street pass feature. Street Pass feels more forced rather than a fully developed addition. The title stands well on its own without this gimmicky extra. Overall, SM3DL exceeded my expectations and it shines above and beyond the 3DS’ current game library. The 3DS hardware has been plagued with a deprived collection of blockbuster titles, but let me assure you that the agony is over with the introduction of Super Mario 3D Land.
+ Exceptional use of 3D
+ Classic Mario platforming with a modern day feel
+ Easy to “Pick up ‘n play” for all skill levels
+ Hidden surprises and secrets
+ Superb level designs
- Street Pass feature is poorly implemented