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1/25/2012

REVIEW: Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)



It seems estrange that after so many months out in the market and struggling so much to find its rightful place in it, the 3DS didn’t have a Super Mario platformer. The public wondered many times if the game would give justice to the two Super Mario Galaxy games for the Wii but fortunately, 3D Land manages to be one of the best games in the console and though not even close to being the best Mario game ever, it’s a great platformer to play and the fact that it can be played literally anywhere makes the experience even better.

Super Mario 3D Land is the common Mario platformer where the Nintendo iconic hero runs and jumps around incredible and awesome stages to collect items, reach a given destination, acquire great power-ups and yes, save Princess Peach from Bowser once again.

Even though there are other games in the 3DS catalog with excellent graphics, like Ocarina of Time 3D or Dead or Alive Dimensions, one can’t help but stand in awe at the visuals of 3D Land. This game looks amazing. The stages are beautifully designed, they’re full of colors, objects and enemies that make everything seem in perfect harmony. The textures are cartoony and things don’t really look realistic but inside the Super Mario context, this is definitely one of the best-looking games in the franchise. In fact, it would be the best if the two Galaxy games weren’t around.

The antialiasing in it is pretty good as well and has very little mistakes that can especially be noticed when playing the game with full 3D effects. These are great and really make things feel like they’re outside the screen. Fortunately, the frame rate of the game is never affected by the 3D effects so playing it with them on will usually be a preference of the player, rather than a performance issue. The graphics are incredible no matter what mode the player uses.

The sound effects are very cool and stay faithful to what the franchise is famous for. The jumps, attacks, enemies and objects make many iconic sounds that will instantly be recognized by most gamers out there and feel excellent. Super Mario 3D Land is a game that manages to create a perfect mix between the old-school and next-gen eras of the franchise.

Since it is a Super Mario game, it’s obvious that there won’t be any voice acting but when comparing it to other platformers in other consoles, it can’t be helped to wonder whether Nintendo could make use of things like voices to give Super Mario games a different and more engaging feeling. Still, the game is excellent even without characters actually speaking to each other.

It has an excellent soundtrack with tons of cartoony songs that fit perfectly into the game. Many of the songs are remixed versions of iconic tunes from previous Mario games that haven’t been used since the NES era and hearing them again feels awesome. Each type of stage has a different song so there will be one for the “grassy” stages, one for the snow ones and another for the fire/lava worlds and so on. The music is definitely one of the best things about this game.

The story is exactly the same as always. Mario is around minding his own business when Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach for no reason at all and he goes on an adventure to save her. Honestly, it’s about time Nintendo came up with something different as an excuse for Mario to go traveling, and the sad thing is that the possibilities are endless, there could be new characters, new villains and a different tale that would not affect the gameplay and style of the game in any way.

In gameplay, the game stays faithful to the 3D Mario games like Super Mario 64, Sunshine and the Galaxy ones. The players control the hero with the analog stick and are able to jump in different ways, crouch and attack depending on which power-up they’re using. But unlike the more modern games, the goal of the stages in the 3DS game is to reach the flag, like in the very first Mario game instead of grabbing the gold star. And instead of just having a set amount of health, Mario becomes small when touched by an enemy and grows up again by taking a red mushroom or power-up.

Super Mario 3D Land brings back the famous Tanooki suit from the third game in the NES. When using it, Mario dresses like a raccoon of some sort and is able to either attack enemies with a tail or hover in the air and slowly fall to the ground, making the “hard” platforming parts of the game way too easy. Besides the Tanooki suit, the usual fire ball power-up is also in the game. This one doesn’t give Mario any jumping abilities but it allows him to spit fire balls that bounce around places to easily defeat enemies. There’s also another suit that allows him to throw a boomerang that can grab far-away items and a helicopter-box thing that makes him fly for short periods of time.

So in gameplay, 3D Land is never repetitive. Each stage has its own tweaks, beauty and things to do, they all have three optional “star coins” that allow the players to unlock challenge rooms and a second set of worlds where it’s going to be possible to play as Luigi after Mario saves Peach.

But a negative thing in the game would be the difficulty. Most of the mothership titles in the Super Mario franchise are usually not very easy and require patience and lots of trial-and-error to successfully finish the stages but in 3D Land, Mario seems a little overpowered and enemies don’t really try too hard to defeat him so even if someone doesn’t have a lot of experience with gaming, they won’t have much trouble to complete the game.

The second set of worlds are a bit harder but they’re still not challenging enough to make a hardcore gamer get stuck on a single stage and lose a good bunch of lives. In fact, when most players die, it’s usually because of a silly mistake and not because of the stages being hard to complete. Another thing is that gaining lives is way too easy since coins and green mushrooms are scattered all over the place so dying a few times is not something to worry about.

The game has a lot of replay value since it is possible to go through the stages again in order to get all the star coins, unlock the second set of worlds or simply try and finish everything with Luigi whose jumps are a little different than Mario’s. 3D Land is a game that can easily be grabbed at any time and played for either a short or a long session and most of the stages are very fun.

So in short, Super Mario 3D Land is an excellent game and definitely the best platformer available on the 3DS right now. The mix between the old-school style and the innovative and crazy stage designs of the modern games is amazing. It looks and sounds very cool and makes perfect use of the 3D effects. Anyone out there can have a great time with and every owner of the console should definitely own this game.

Pros:

-          Excellent mix between the old and new style of Mario games.
-          Great graphics and 3D effects
-          Awesome and catchy soundtrack
-          Lots of extra stages to play.

Cons:

-          It’s not very challenging.
-          Limited Streetpass use.


-          Graphics and Visuals………...9
-          Music and Sound Effects….....9
-          Gameplay……………………8
-          Replay Value………………...8

-          Overall Score……………….. 8.5 / 10


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