If you've been watching any television lately, it's likely that you've noticed a familiar face among the advertisments for Xbox:One and PS4. That's right folks, Nintendo is actually doing some active marketing of a Wii-U title! I know, we were surprised too. Super Mario 3D World, released last week, revisits the ideas that made the original series good - while giving players plenty of new twists to keep them engaged. We spent a modest fifteen hours of our weekend, running, jumping, and clawing our way to the iconic end-level flags, and we're not nearly finished with what this world has to offer.
Like other Nintendo titles, this is a game that is infinitely more fun when played with a few close pals. For starters, each level has three or more hidden stars that are collected to unlock additional levels and Bowser battles. With four players it becomes much easier to collect all the coveted stars, because someone is likely to figure out where that pesky straggler is hidden. Conversely, the system also rewards you for working against your partners in coin. At the end of every level, a bar graph shows how many points each player has amassed, and gives a first-to-fourth ranking. The winner of each level gets a crown, for bragging rights, that is worn through the next level - unless it's knocked off by an enemy and picked up by another character. Don't kick me while I'm down, man!
Players choose between four characters initially, Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad - each with their own advantages of play. Mario is naturally the easiest character to control, Luigi can jump the highest, Peach can float at the top of her jump, and Toad is extremely fast. At the end of the level, all of the abilities stack pretty fairly, but we noticed that the person who played Toad was able to collect coins and get to the flag the fastest. This isn't a huge deal, but if you win with Toad you might expect your friends to discount your victory. That's not all though, through a series of levels accessed by a rocketship at the end of the game - you're able to unlock The Keeper of The Stars, Rosalina! Mario fans rejoice! The Galaxy Team has not forgotten about one of your favorite games. Rosalina gives players a spinning move that can be used at any time, even when standing on the ground. If you're looking for a solid offensive character, she's your best bet.
The level selection screen is reminiscent to that of Super Mario Brothers 3. With each level that is cleared, the path advances - opening up new areas of the world to explore. As you progress, there is also the occasional special stage which could be a mini-boss battle, a chance for power-ups, or extra coins. Exploring the selection screen can also be beneficial, as hidden levels sprout up through the changes in terrain. We especially enjoyed the new single-player boards that make use of the gamepad's touchscreen and microphone functions - though you might have to fight over who gets the sticks during these interactions. Rock, Paper, Scissors?
New power-ups in Super Mario 3D World include the Super Bell, the Cannon-Box, and the Double Cherry. When obtained, the Super Bell gives the player a cat suit that grants the ability to climb, crawl, and pounce their way to victory. The suit is integral in finding quite a few of the hidden stars at the beginning of the game, and can be used to climb the end-game flagpole to ensure an instant extra life. The Cannon-Box puts a cannon on the player's head - allowing them to shoot projectiles at their enemies, or friends. Last, but certainly not least, is the Double Cherry. The cherry adds an extra copy of the player to the game. If you're playing solo, this power-up can make or break puzzle-solving. The interesting part is, that there is no limit to the amount of copies you can spawn as long as you've got more of that sweet red fruit. Multiplicity, anyone?
Oh yeah, The music is great too. Assembled by excellent composers including the legendary, Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo, each song will make you want to jump up from your seat and groove around as you play. It wouldn't be a true Nintendo game without a toe-tapping, soul-warming score. From the minute we booted up, I was transported back to a time where my friend Matt, and I - couldn't wait to get home from elementary school to play All-Stars on the SNES.
With new worlds and more stars than you can focus a telescope on, Super Mario 3D World offers a refreshing take on a game that most of us grew up on. Rest assured, you'll have plenty of hours with your buds, taking in all that this experience has to offer. Those who had any doubt in the Wii U, would be wise to stay their tongue - it seems that Nintendo is just getting started with their late-blooming console.
Super Mario 3D World is available for purchase through most retailers, and online in the Nintendo e-Shop channel.