For almost two decades, the 3D Mario games set incredibly high benchmarks on their respective platforms. “Super Mario 64” defined 3D platforming, “Sunshine” refined it and “Galaxy” proved that Nintendo are still the best to ever do it! Earlier this year when Nintendo announced that their working on a new Mario game for their struggling Wii U console, I found it hard to contain my excitement. “Finally my Wii U purchase will be justified!” I naively thought, “Finally Nintendo will show us what they’ve been working on for the past 5 years!” …Boy, was I wrong.
Rather than continuing to assert their dominance as the platforming kings, Nintendo has been incredibly lazy with Mario’s latest outing. Why be creative and come up with something original when you can just make a multiplayer-focused sequel to a handheld game? Hey, that worked out well for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, didn’t it? Despite my initial cynicism, I still held out hope that Super Mario 3D World would be a great game. After all, its 3DS predecessor was one of the best Mario games ever released. But after just minutes of playing 3D World with three other people I was ready to cancel my pre-order.
Multiplayer Mario has always been a frustrating experience but being confined to a 2D plane made it somewhat manageable. In 3D World, players are free to run around in circles and I just so happened to be playing with a jerk who loved nothing more than to sprint ahead as fast as he could. This meant that the rest of us were constantly pushed off screen and had to return via bubbles. Of course this problem can easily be avoiding with verbal communication (and by not being a dick!) but this experience just proved that 3D platformers should not have a multiplayer mode.
Once we finally learnt to play as a team, it suddenly dawned on me just how boring and uninteresting this game is. Previous Mario games took us to tropical islands and even Space! But here you’re just running around Mushroom Kingdom, hitting question mark blocks and collecting coins. As flawed as Mario Sunshine was, at least it had a unique gameplay hook and a sense of identity. Super Mario 3D World is still three months away from being released but I already feel like I’ve been playing it for the past five years.
Aesthetically, 3D World is like 3D Land but with the prettiness turned up to 11! It’s great seeing Mario in HD, even if the environments often look flat and lacking in detail. Most interestingly, the game features the same character selection found in Super Mario Bros. 2 with each character retaining their same unique traits from the 80s’. Toad can run fast, Luigi can jump high, Peach can float mid-air for a few seconds and Mario is well rounded (aka boring!).
The demo we played featured 5 levels; namely W2-1, W4-2, W6-3, W1-5 and w4-Boss. The first three levels had us running, jumping and collecting Cat suits which heightened our running and jumping abilities. For the fourth level, we rocketed downstream atop of what could only be described as Yoshi’s drunken uncle. It was nice to get away from running and jumping for a change but we able to make it to the end of the level unscathed in around 30 seconds. Finally, in the boss level we defeated a giant sandworm by running and jumping on its head. Again, this fight lasted approximately 30 seconds and concluded without any of us taking damage.
Upon completion, the Nintendo rep thanked us for playing “the ultimate multiplayer experience” I can only assume she was talking about Titanfall. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun with 3D World when I play it alone, in a dark room but as a “multiplayer experience” the game seems tedious. If you’re looking for a Wii U game to play with your buddies, go out and buy Rayman Origins or save your pennies for Mario Kart 8 instead.