Mario finally arrives to his first full 3D adventure in HD with Super Mario 3D World. But Nintendo has decided that shouldn't be the only one to have the action this time around as the game also allows you to play as Luigi, Peach, or Toad. Yep, all the four characters from Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA version) are once again playable this time. So if Bowser isn't kidnapping Peach this time you may be wondering what's the plot of the game then. Well, keep reading to find out what is causing trouble this time around in the Mushroom Kingdom in another great game starring Mario.
The story is simple, like usual in Super Mario games. The game starts with Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad having a walk outside of the castle. They suddenly find a pipe that's misaligned, so Mario and Luigi get on the job to fix it. After fixing it, an alarmed Sprixie comes out of it and tells Mario and company that Bowser has been causing trouble in their world and is capturing all the Sprixies to get their power. Suddenly, Bowser pops up from the same pipe and captures the Sprixie. When Peach tries to help, she falls inside the pipe so Mario, Luigi, and Toad decide to follow and all four end up in the Sprixie Kingdom, where they will have to rescue all the Sprixies from Bowser.
The game plays very similarly to the previously released Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS. But the biggest difference here compared to the 3DS game is not only the addition of more playable characters but the ability to play cooperative with up to four players at once. Yep, four players can join in the fun and play each with their own character. This can be both quite fun but at the same time quite chaotic, specially in levels which don't have much space.
Another feature of the game is that you are able to use pretty much any controller that connects to the Wii U, from the Wii U Gamepad to the Wii remote by itself. The controllers that have the traditional shape use controls that are exactly the same as the ones from Super Mario 3D Land, which are easy and simple to learn. The other options like the Nunchuk and the Wii remote alone work a bit different but are still quite intuitive and easy to learn, specially the Nunchuk one.
The way the game controls is quite easy and your character reacts instantly to your inputs. Like old Mario games, simply pushing the Control Stick to move your character around will make it walk. This can be a bit confusing, specially to players who are used to other Mario 3D games. To run, you need to press and hold a dash button. There's also a button for jumping and one for crouching which can also be combined to do certain special moves. Some levels in the game will also make you use the touch screen or the microphone of the Gamepad.
Similar to Super Mario 3D Land, the game plays like a mix of traditional 2D Mario games and 3D Mario games. Most of the levels are linear, in which your main goal is to go from a start position to the flag pole. Other levels may be boss fights, in which the goal is to defeat it. Then there's two other type of levels, challenges called Mystery House and Captain Toad levels.
The regular levels also contain secrets in them. Some of them are alternate exits, like previous Mario games. There's also three green stars plus one stamp to find in each stage. These are hidden through the level and give the game more replay value. Obtaining green stars will help you open up stages that are locked while the stamps can be used in Miiverse posts.
The boss battles in the game are a bit varied. There's certain bosses that are unique and fun in the way they fight against you and require specific strategies to stomp them. Other boss battles, like the fights against Bowser, are quite similar to each other, only increasing in difficulty each time. Sadly, because of this, they aren't as impressive or fun like the ones with unique bosses.
The challenge levels are actually optional for the most part but provide a small break from the usual levels. They will test your reflexes and abilities in the game as the challenges involve completing certain small tasks before the timer gets to zero. There's usually three small challenges in each level, and you need to clear the ones before before reaching the next one in the level.
The Captain Toad levels play different and use the Gamepad only. They also are only available in single player. These levels are presented like small dioramas worlds in which you control Captain Toad, the same character that previously appeared in Super Mario Galaxy. As Captain Toad, you can't jump, only walk run or use the touch screen controls. Your objective is to obtain all the green stars in the level before the time runs out while dodging any danger. These levels are interesting because they feel more like puzzles than platformer stages.
As it's common, there's various power-ups that can be obtained through the game. The one that's highlighted the most is the Super Bell which transforms Mario into Cat Mario. The power-ups are well distributed around the levels and help the great level design on them. Some stages are more focused on certain power-ups while others don't even need one. Other power-ups in the game include the classic Fire Flower, the Tanooki Suit, and the new Double Cherry, all of which are easy and fun to use.
The game is quite impressive graphically even with its simple designed textures. It runs at 720p and constant 60fps, which looks really beautiful on the screen. The water effects are really well made and you can notice it specially in rainy levels. The characters are also well animated and there's even small details on them like how they do look like holding their breath when under water.
Super Mario 3D World is also really good on the music and sound effects department. All the sound effects work and match the way you would expect. And the music of the game is really one of it's highlights. The game has a fully orchestrated soundtrack which is beautiful to hear from start to finish. There's only a very few tracks that may not be memorable.
Overall, Super Mario 3D World is a game that you can't miss. With really good gameplay and beautiful graphics and music, it's great fun game and highly recommended to everyone, specially if you are a Mario fan. The game also features Miiverse integration with ghost races against other players through levels plus several secret worlds to explore which just increase the replay value of the game.
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