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Opinion: Why Super Mario 3D World is One of the Best Looking Mario Games Yet

Mario 3D World Logo

When it comes to Super Mario 3D World, opinions have been a bit mixed.  Some people say it looks like a great game and a fantastic addition to the franchise, others say a lazy rehash of Super Mario 3D Land.  But while others are a bit skeptical about the whole title and worried it’ll be mediocre, I personally think it’s one of the best looking Mario games yet, and here’s why:

1. It’s set in the Mushroom Kingdom without a ‘gimmick’

Which I’d say really makes it stand out from the other home console Mario titles, at least those released after Super Mario 64.  There’s no bland tropical island setting like Isle Delfino or water jetpack like FLUDD (aka Super Mario Sunshine), no space themes and gravity gimmicks (Super Mario Galaxy series), just good old Mario platforming in the good old Mushroom Kingdom.

Mushroom World

Above: Just the Mushroom World.  No island, no space, no gimmicks.

Isn’t that something to be happy about?  Apart from 3D Land and 64, far too many recent 3D Mario games have been all about the gimmicks and tech and not so much about actually having you explore the Mushroom Kingdom.  This game does away with that, and I think looks more promising than most other Mario games in a while.

Besides, it’s not like any fan ideas would be more ‘interesting’ a reveal at E3.  Super Mario Sunshine 2?  Super Mario Galaxy 3?  Yeah, talk about a completely underwhelming idea that would have interested barely anyone and would have put Nintendo into the same mess they’re in now with this title.  Oh, so they announce Mario Galaxy 3?  Boring, you’re milking the series.  Super Mario Sunshine 2?  People go underwhelmed and the series popularity drops like a stone.  Release a 3D Land style game like this?  Unoriginal and lazy!  Yeah, Nintendo are a bit damned if they do, damned if they don’t here.

2. There are four playable characters with different abilities

Mario 3D World screen

Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad.  All with different abilities.  Win.

Yeah, who the hell was expecting that to happen?  I know I wasn’t, 3D Mario games have always generally been Mario only affairs with Luigi thrown in as a bonus if you’re lucky.  Not since Super Mario 64 DS have we seen four unique playable characters with their own abilities in a 3D Mario title, and never have they been playable with other people in a co-op multiplayer mode.

Best thing ever?  No doubt about it.

3. It’s finally got co-op multiplayer… in 3D!

3D Mario co-op

Above: This is something Mario fans have been waiting at least 20 years for.

Really people, are you not absolutely hyped beyond belief about this possibility?  It’s something Mario fans have literally wanted since the promise of Super Mario 64 2 in the mid 90s, and yet now it’s only just become a reality.

This is an amazing addition to the game, and it’s one that alone makes me think of it as a major upgrade to the 3D Mario game series.

4. Princess Peach isn’t kidnapped again

It’s probably still not saying much for the ‘quality’ of the storyline in this title, but I guess you could say that’s a sort of ‘victory’ for the more feminist gamers out there, in that Peach is finally being shown as more than a damsel in distress in the mainstream Mario franchise.

Peach not captured

Above: Princess Peach is playable and isn’t captured.  Victory for those wanting a new storyline?

It’s also a win for people like… well, most of the Mario fanbase who were getting a bit sick and tired of the same old ‘Bowser captures Princess Peach’ storyline that Nintendo has pretty much milked to death for the last 20 or so years.  It’s probably not much, but it’s still the biggest change to the Mario series plotline since the NES era, and people need to appreciate that a bit more.

5. Cat Mario looks like the most interesting, practical new powerup in years

Really, look at it.  It lets you climb up walls, attack enemies with your claws… it’s far more of an interesting powerup than the likes of the Flying Squirrel Suit, Ice Mario (the Galaxy version) or Spring Mario.

Cat Mario

Above: Meow!

Additionally, it’s actually got a practical use in combat.  That’s better than most 3D Mario game powerups (or even most 2D ones now), which seem to have been reduced to glorified Zelda puzzle solving tools with little practical purpose and no real feeling of ‘power’ when you actually use them.

6. Super Mario 3D Land’s Item/Health System returns

Which in my honest opinion, was one of the best things about that game.  No more health bar, no more timed power ups with only puzzle solving purposes, you can just take your power ups elsewhere and use them for whatever purposes you like, only losing them after taking a hit.

More Mario 3D World

Above: No health bar or timed powerups here mate!

It’s not new, but people really need to appreciate how much better this system is than the 64, Sunshine or Galaxy ‘health bar + timed items’ one.  So I’m absolutely thrilled it’s returning, even if it is alongside the somewhat linear level design of the last few Mario games.

7. It brings back Chargin’ Chucks

What?  That’s a big plus for me, since these classic Mario enemies have been gone ever since Super Mario Advance 4′s e-Reader levels (or more practically since Super Mario World itself).  Every new Mario game, I was hoping they’d be revealed as enemies again.  New Super Mario Bros Wii?  Nope.  Super Mario Galaxy 2?  Nope.  Super Mario 3D Land?  No.  Even the recent New Super Mario Bros titles, despite all their Super Mario World retro pandering didn’t feel like bringing them back as enemies.

charginchuck

Above: Chargin’ Chucks make a long-awaited return to the Mario series.

But now they’re back, and we can officially say that one of the last major Super Mario World monsters has now made a return to the Mario franchise after all these years.  Awesome.

So there you have it people.  While some others online are being a bit negative about Super Mario 3D World and are only seeing the bad sides of the game, I personally feel it does a ton of things right and looks like it’ll be one of the best Mario games in years. Forget Galaxy.  Forget Sunshine.  This game could potentially be better than either of them.

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  • http://www.ign.com/blogs/diodimer Daniel

    I think it’s fine that this game is set in the Mushroom Kingdom. I didn’t enjoy Mario Sunshine or Mario Galaxy because of their locations, nor did I enjoy Mario 64 because it was in Peach’s Castle. What is missing from Super Mario 3D World, in my opinion, is non-linearality and exploration. These were lacking in the Galaxy games as well, but with a mostly fixed camera and constrained near-2D space in 3D World, as in 3D Land, this isn’t the Mario title I was hoping for. There still looks to be a lot to enjoy here though, and I’m sure it will be a great game. However, it does not harken back to the exploration, discover, and freedom of Mario 64 which is what I was wanted.

  • Hakeem

    I didn’t think the “gimmicks” of galaxy or sunshine were that horrible.

    They did a great job of FLUD and making a unique style of gameplay and decent storyline. And Galaxy felt just as fun with the space themed creativity.

    In itself, the Mushroom Kingdom is a gimmick. Why restrict Mario to one aspect of the Mario-verse when there’s clearly more to it? The only issue with Sunshine was that everything was tropical themed, but it was still a diverse set of areas even if it did feel less diverse than 64…I mean how do you trump the painting hub and such a large arsenal of areas?

  • Hamza Shaz

    It’s not set in the Mushroom Kingdom, it’s set in the Spirixie Kingdom. Read Mario Wiki.

    By the way, you can look at the new trailer they made. It’s way better.

    Meow!