Super Mario 3D Land: Time for Mario to suit up again

November 27, 2011

Another system, another Mario game. This long-anticipated adventure brings back a favorite item from our past, the Tanooki Suit, the classic Fire Flower power-up and a new ability, the Boomerang Suit. I found myself liking both Super Mario Galaxy and New Super Mario Bros. and was hoping that Super Mario 3D Land would be a great middle ground between the two games.

Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint.

Each stage is fairly straightforward and requires you to get to point A to point B, collecting Star Coins along the way to unlock locked stages later on. While the game starts off simple to ease gamers into the game’s mechanics, the difficulty ramps up faster than you’d imagine, throwing gimmicks at you left and right. While the game leaves more to be desired for exploration, it really tosses back to Super Mario Bros. 3, requiring you to look beyond the stage’s limits to find what you were looking for.

The World Map provides a good idea what you’re going to face in each stage. Each world ends with a boss battle hearkening back to Super Mario Bros. 3, re-introducing Boom Boom, our favorite arm-flailing henchman, and a new partner, Pom Pom, a boomerang wielding Koopaling. For the most part, the first eight worlds teach you the game’s mechanics, and everything you learned will be needed for something special later on.

In case you need it, Nintendo lent a helping hand to gamers who are struggling to beat stages. Lose three lives in a stage? The game gives you a random item box. Lose five lives? You get the Super Tanooki Suit, which offers invincibility for Mario and all the benefits of the regular Tanooki Suit. Lose at least 15 lives? You earn the P-Wing. Like in Super Mario Bros. 3, it allows players to fly over everything and completely skip the stage. While you can’t exactly fly anymore, the idea is still the same, giving the P-Wing the power to teleport you right to the goal post. (I sadly have to admit I’ve reached a point in a stage where I received a P-Wing.)

Nintendo also tossed in a tribute to another one of its popular series in this game with a special level. I won’t spoil it, but it’s something to be experienced and will probably bring the same kind of smile to your face as it brought me.

As expected, the game’s graphics are beautifully done. Hands-down, it’s one of the prettiest games currently available on the 3DS. From the crisp details of the character models and the immersive worlds that Mario traverses through, Nintendo wanted nothing short of amazing for this game. The 3D is available in two flavors: it can either pop out at you or go deep into your screen.

On top of amazing gameplay and graphics, the game’s sounds are pretty amazing as well. Along with some new tunes, you’ll hear the classic songs with a new twist on them. The implementation of StreetPass and the game’s gyroscope pretty much puts sprinkles and a cherry to the Mario sundae. The gyroscope adds some depth into the stages, allowing you to search for the goal and a captive Toad that could give hints on how to get through the stage, 1-Ups, or even give you hidden medals. StreetPass allows you unlock mystery boxes throughout stages and see the finishing times of other Super Mario 3D Land users on various levels.

What else is there to say about this game? If you love Mario games and own a 3DS, you have absolutely no excuse not to own this game. It’s a must-buy title for anyone who appreciates a good platformer.

Pros: Beautiful graphics, amazing music, immersive 3D and worlds
Cons: When the game gets difficult, it’s really difficult

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.