Super Mario 3D Land
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: November 13th, 2011
Mario returns from the galaxies to land in his latest Nintendo 3DS installment. Nostalgia and 3D effects done right fill his latest adventure with charm.
The game opens up with the title and upon pressing A you can start a game on one of three save files. You can use your mii created on the 3DS as an icon for your save file to customize it, it's a useless but nifty feature. Once the game begins a cutscene opens where Mario runs to a tanooki tree that has been cleaned dry of its leaves. A letter is left behind showing Bowser with Princess Peach once again in Captivity. After this brief cutscene the game immediately begins. Mario 3DS Land makes it a point not to introduce much story if any and quickly introduce the gameplay. There are 8 worlds with various levels within. You can stroll to the right to a level on a linear plot where you can begin the first stage. This is repeated until the boss level is reached and once completed you can continue to the next world. The concept is simple, straight-forward and accessible.
Super Mario 3D Land's music is fully orchestrated and has a wealth of sounds in each level and track. Orchestrated tracks include new versions of classic Mario tunes as well as some new scores which are phenomenal for a handheld. During tracks you can distinctly recognize various instruments as everything is blended together beautifully. Sound effects are the basic Mario sounds we all know and love and I don't think any of us would want it any other way. From the fire flower to hitting a block it doesn't sound like your basic MIDI. The sound effects are very crisp and clear and are a bit touched up from previous entries.
Super Mario 3D Land is colorful, very very colorful. Each level is packed with rich and vibrant colors it is hard not to be put in a good mood by this. Every level is played on a 3D plane instead of a typical side-scrolling adventure. The 3D in the game is mind-blowing and it is something every 3DS owner has longed for. Each 3D model from characters to levels pop out as if the game is being played inside a box instead of a screen. The environments look rich and almost touchable at times. There are times where there can be a bit of ghosting but that is due to hectic moments where you need to navigate the 3DS around for certain parts. As stated earlier it is like you are looking through a window to Mario's world instead of a screen and all the action is happening right outside the window. That is how wonderful the 3D effects are in this game.
Mario 3D Land mixes elements of 2D and 3D and it mixes to where it feels fantastic instead of awkward. There are some levels where you run around and jump on platforms in a 3D plane that can be found in titles such as Mario 64 and the Galaxy series. Others you can roam 2D but in this case it still implements 3D as you can walk away from the screen or towards on a flat 3D plane. Various items are scattered around the land to assist the Mario to reach his goal. A boomerang power up is available to toss boomerangs. The classic mushroom and fire flower are present making mario grow and giving him the ability to throw fireballs. The only difference between the boomerang and the fire flower is that the boomerang can attack in different directions and pick up coins. The tanooki suit makes a return and gives Mario the ability to whip enemies, blocks and switches for platforms with his tail, and the ability to suspend yourself briefly in the air to get more air time. The last item is the propellor box. When mario is inside he can jump and get a propeller boost and slowly descend with more time to land than the tanooki suit allows. If you have the tanooki suit on you can simultaneously wear the propeller box.
Each level consists of platforming elements such as wall jumping, platforming from beginning to end. There are several different mechanics throughout the levels such as bouncing blocks, wires to grab onto and jump on and hidden blocks to platform on. Pipes are spread throughout the land to lead to secret areas that may have coins. Each level contains 3 star coins that are sometimes difficult to find. You have to search high and low for every coin. Some are hidden in pipes and some have to be accessed by butt stomping the color changing musical blocks which send you to a cloud level which always has a star coin at the end. When the level is completed you have to jump on the flag pole, hitting the flag pole grants you coins but hitting the very top of the pole gives the player an extra life and a gold flag.
Some worlds have special blocks with challenges inside. If you defeat all enemies in a challenge block you are awarded a star coin. The challenge blocks you beat can be shared through street pass with other players who own the game and have activated street pass.
Enemies vary throughout the game. Certain enemies have different strategies to beat. Bosses don't have much of a variety. There are Bowser battles where you avoid his fire and hit the switch at the end of the level to send him to the lava. Then there are airship battles where you fight Boom Boom at the end and only requires to pick up on the same pattern.
Some levels have you turn the 3D on to see the perspective of some platforms. If makes it harder to hit those platforms if you are playing the game with the 3D off leading to some very unwanted deaths. Due to some perspectives in certain levels it makes jumping from platform to platform harder than it should be and at times it can feel very unfair. All in all disregarding some angle faults each level is packed with platforming greatness and level design that makes this the best portable Mario to date.
This game is quite easy and accessible for everyone so it shouldn't take long to run through the game. There are extra obstacles in each level such as grabbing the coins and getting a gold flag. There is another world to unlock if all this is done throughout the game and if the same is done by Mario's partner in crime. Overall the game can range from 8-15 hours depending on your definition of completion.
Super Mario 3D Land is a visual treat and a fun experience from beginning to end. Sure it might be on the easy side but that does not take away from the fun in any way shape or form. This is best title on the 3DS making use of the 3D features and the most pleasing in all aspects. Super Mario 3D Land is a must own for every 3DS owner and a perfect stocking stuffer who love nostalgia blended with new.