Super Mario 3D World - A heavily hyped first party title for the Wii U has landed, but does it meet our expectations? I've sort of been hoping this would be the late revival of the Wii U especially as it was released in the well timed pre-Christmas buildup. Anyway, here are my thoughts on Super Mario 3D World since I got it a few weeks back on it's UK release date. I won't waste too much time mentioning how much it annoys me that we get games a week+ after certain other countries.
The story, as you would expect from a Mario game is that Bowser; being the outrageous guy that he is, is causing Mario and friends issues again. This time Princess Peach is not the victim of Bowsers antics, maybe he finally worked out that she didn't fancy marrying him, or simply that that plan never worked before. So no, this time Bowser changes tactics and kidnaps a Sprixie Princess (yep the little fairy dudes) and when he does so Princess Peach is actually the first one to jump into the transparent pipe after him.
The gist of the story is you have to travel around rescuing all the little Sprixies. And to me, in a Mario platformer, I don't ask for much more so I won't really interrogate the story too much because if I cared that much I'd just stick to RPG's.
In terms of game play; the game allows you to play as Mario, Luigi, Peach or Toad and each have attributes similar to what they had in the western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (known in Japan as Doki Doki Panic) for example Luigi will jump higher, Toad will run faster, Peach floats, and Mario is a good allrounder so its great to have that choice to pick a character that suits you best.
You are also for the first time in high definition on the Wii U allowed to openly run round and explore the overworld, which has its own question blocks, coins hidden in flowers and hidden secrets. A major plus for me for Super Mario 3D world against for example New Super Mario Bros U is the physics of the game, New Super Mario Bros U could often be quite frustrating even for a seasoned Mario veteran where Super Mario 3D World just felt instantly much more fun, much less annoying and I picked it up a lot quicker.
That's not me saying its a significantly easier game, because its not, its just a lot more controlled and less linear and absolutely revolutionary in the way you can explore levels and worlds. The standard 3D platforming levels we expected are all there and better than we thought, but rather than just going level to level there's quite a lot to break it up including adventures with Captain Toad "the fearless green star hunter" who you have to navigate around little islands in the sky (tilting gamepads and rotating camera angles as you go) to collect all the green stars, whilst dodging enemies, the catch being that you cant jump.
Other little features that break away from the standard platform levels are of course the return of Toad Houses and roaming enemies from the Super Mario Bros 3 days, even introducing Chargin' Chuck Blockades who will try to delay our progress, mystery houses which have a lot of green stars in, but a lot of challenges against enemies on short time limits and they've even thrown in some slot machines.
They have even gone to town on boss fights, you only have to see the first fight with Bowser in World 1's castle to see that, as you chase him down a highway with him throwing fireballs and bombs at you out of the back of a purple Wario-from-Mario-Kart-esque Cadillac... I don't know about you, but I certainly didn't think that was going to happen.
Finally, the Cat Suit, yeah I had to mention it, during the build-up to the game I thought this sounded a bit gimmicky and could almost hear the unreassuring sound of my own eyes rolling - Could I have been more wrong, no - The Cat Suit is absolutely awesome, it enables you to smash enemies faces in with your claws (is that the first time in a Mario game you can actually kill an enemy without kicking something at them, pow blocking them or stomping them?!), climb up walls, pounce out of the air at your foes.
There really isn't that much in common with New Super Mario Bros U as the Mario adventure game on the Wii U that came before it (I just mention it a bit because 3D World corrects a lot of things that NSMBU got wrong) - a lot of comparisons have been drawn to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy infact, comparisons I happen to agree with - the best elements of previous Mario-mega hits have been blended very well to make the single player in this quite the masterpiece.
Musically Koji Kondo, Mahito Yokotahave and their team of composers really nailed it, I got this game on its UK release date a couple of weeks back, and I've had the music from the title screen and level one stuck in my head ever since. This for the last few weeks has literally been the soundtrack of my life - walking to work, I can hear it....... working, I can hear it, Taking a sh.. anyway moving on to the multiplayer.
As for the (local) multiplayer, this is much improved, largely down to the games physics compared to New Super Mario Bros U, in NSMB U there was a bit of a huge frustration level when playing with friends sometimes because of jumping on each others heads, knocking each other down holes, making each other miss jumps - which there's a time and a place for, it can be quite a good laugh if you don't fancy progressing and want to just see how angry you can make a friend for your own amusement, I'm as guilty of that as anyone else - Super Mario 3D World has improved this a lot.
There's one thing I have to warn you of, if four guys are playing this pick up that control quick, because one of you IS going to be wearing a dress ;-)
So if you have 3 friends who are into Mario, Nintendo games to come round and play the co-op multiplayer with you, this is certainly a great fun choice of game.
Online co-op, YEAAAH!!!! The game which has been stated 'the most next gen game of 2013' by so many would be absolutely amazing to play online with friends right? Well... yes, it would be, if this title featured online multiplayer co-op.... I was absolutely mortified to find out that this doesn't. And as my friends are unfortunately all PC, Xbox and Playstation gamers, that leaves me rather isolated to single-player mode.
My verdict on this, is that it is one of my favourite Mario games (in terms of adventure, platformers) since Super Mario World, which was my all time favourite back in '91. Its a flawless single player game with a fantastic soundtrack and graphically rich world to explore, let down only by the fact that you can't play it multiplayer online - this is 2013 and in my eyes good multiplayer integration should be a prerequisite of any new game, especially the title that could be the make or break of the Wii U's pre-christmas sales, fortunately for Nintendo on this occasion this title is worth it even just for the single player but I think if the next games such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8 aren't easily online multiplayer accessible people will begin to lose patience.
If you are happy to take this game at face value for it's single player, its a no-brainer, you need to add this to your Mario collection, or if you've been thinking about dipping your toe into Mario's waters, this would be a fantastic place to start. Over and out. I am very pro-online multiplayer and still very impressed by this; remaining confident that between Super Mario 3D World and the upcoming Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros both due in early 2014 that the fate of the Wii U may be vastly improved.
Overall score for Super Mario 3D World: 8.5/10