I’m going to get this out the way and say that I’m not a Super Mario Bros fan. In fact, I only like Mario when he’s racing, partying, playing tennis, or saving the day in some kind of 3D environment that doesn’t limit him to jumping from left to right. Something about the slight slipperiness in platformers has always frustrated me to the point of generally avoiding them unless I only have a few minutes to spare.
With that being said, I love Super Mario 3D Land. The game successfully takes franchise staples and pushes them from 2D to 3D. In fact, the very first thing I did when I started playing was push the circle pad up, causing Mario to run into the background. “Yes!” I thought to myself. I could now run around enemies instead of having to jump on or over them.
The second thing I noticed is the lack of slipperiness when running around. Mario moves slower and is definitely less agile in 3D Land, however it never feels cumbersome or out place. SMB vets can still sprint through levels if the game feels too slow or easy for them.
Additional features such as the Propeller Box, Boomerang suit, and the return of the Tanooki suit all fit in nicely with the environments.
The game’s 8 main worlds are mixed up and genuinely fun to navigate.
You’re no longer just moving from left to right, but also heading up, down, closer,farther, all while utilizing the different suits.
A few floor tile-based puzzles may slow you down, but they’re not so difficult that you have to stop and stare for a while to figure out. Occasional mini-boss battles also change-up the gameplay a bit.
While the relatively linear levels are all on the short side, they still contain enough shortcuts, alternate routes, and bonus items littered throughout to warrant additional play-throughs.
You still bump into winter and desert themed levels, but they’re sprinkled throughout the worlds as opposed to being isolated to one. You’ll never have to make your way through 6 consecutive deserts to progress in the game. Additional bonus levels are in every world, that can be unlocked from collection star coins, of which there are 3 hidden per level.
Super Mario 3D Land’s environments are a blast to play through, but the game still has some shortcomings.
The game just might be too easy. I’m terrible at platformers, but I was able to collect all the star coins on the first 8 worlds and beat the game in one 6 hour sitting. At one point, I had 88 lives in stock. After beating the game and unlocking the “Special World” counterparts, it took me about another 8 hours to finish those off while collecting every single star coin.
I’m perfectly okay with 14 hours of gameplay, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mario veterans shaved hours off my game time. The game throws out so many lives and upgrades you may never see a single “Game Over” screen. After beating the game I decided to go on a suicide spree just to see what would happen when I ran out. You’re taken to a “Game Over” screen, and brought back to the World Map with four lives. The only thing really lost after running out of lives is your mid-level checkpoint.
The rare portions of the game I found difficult suffered from camera issues. The camera sometimes feels too close to Mario. This, coupled with the 3DS’ small screen, made some of parts of the game feel too congested. Jumping from falling platforms, avoiding traps and projectiles, all while being chased by a doppelganger is enough to have to worry about. The last thing you need is to not be able to see Mario or the next platform you have to jump on.
I found the game’s 3D features didn’t help much either. The 3D didn’t change my habit of using a character’s shadow to track distance. You could play through the whole game with the 3D slider off and still do fine.
The game’s lack of difficulty and few camera issues aren’t bad enough to frustrate or bore you away from coming back for more.
Super Mario 3D Land’s collectibles, short and sweet levels, and above all else, classic platforming gameplay make it a worthy addition to any 3DS owner’s collection.