The Nintendo 3DS has a few, good games to play. But the problem is that they're all remakes of Nintendo 64 titles. Super Mario 3D Land is an excellent, brand spanking new adventure in the Mushroom Kingdom that shows off 3D gaming like never before.
3D Land doesn't incorporate anything new in terms of level progression and storyline, as the premise of the game is to go through eight linear worlds, beating them one by one. Once you've beaten the last world, you've saved the princess from the clutches of Bowser.
Something new hidden in each level however is the addition of star coins. You'll need to try and collect as many of the three found in each level as you can, because you'll need to spend them to unlock future levels if you wish to progress. While I liked the whole idea, the amount of star coins needed later down the road reached absurd heights and I had to go back and play through some of the older levels to reach the required amount needed.
After you begin playing through each world, you might become worried that there is very little content in the game. Spoiler, after you complete the main career, you can go through all eight worlds again, renamed Super Worlds, each level having some sort of new twist to it.
After looking at screenshots or videos of 3D land, it might be tricky determining what kind of 3D platform the game actually is. One of the coolest things about the game is that in reality, it's both a 3D and 2D platformer. Or at least it seems like it at times.
The trick to it is that the camera angle will constantly change throughout each level. Sometimes it will feel like a 2D platformer, the camera angled like it is in New Super Mario Bros. At other times, the camera will follow behind you just like it does in Mario 64. The camera will even looking down at some points. The look and feel of the game is constantly changing, something I thought was pretty neat.
The controls are very similar to past Mario games, therefore making them very easy to become accustom to. With the addition of the circle pad, Mario can now run in any direction, a trick that proves to be very useful in some of the levels. If you aren't a fan of the circle pad though, you can still use the d-pad. Your other three options are the obvious run, crouch, and jump buttons.
Each and every level in the game is designed to perfection to suit both the new 3D aspect and what the circle pad has to offer. You'll find yourself stomping on Koopas, swimming away from fish in the sea, walking along tightropes, or dodging man eating plants. All of the classic Mario enemies are back, alongside a few new ones as well.
Where 3D land doesn't mark it's stride is the variety in boss fights. By the time you've beaten the game, you'll only have fought three different fights. I found myself fighting the exact same boss battle at the end of each world. After all of the things I thought they did right in 3D Land, boss battles were the one thing they blatantly struggled on.
Power-ups in the game blend all of our classic favorites with a few new ones. The new Boomerang Suit allows Mario to toss a boomerang at his foes, and the Tanooki Tail lets Mario fly through the air and smack his enemies out of the way.
The graphics in the game are the best of any game I've seen on the system to date, and the 3D is handed wonderfully. Objects appear to pop out of the screen during certain sequences and swimming underwater makes the game appear like a portable fish tank! The art style is very similar to that of Super Mario Galaxy, but it fits right in on the 3DS. Environments look stunning, all crisp and vibrant.
The icing on the cake to 3D Land is the incorporation of the gyroscope and StreetPass. The gyroscope can be used at different parts of a level in binoculars. Tilting the system lets you navigate around. Street Pass allows you to unlock mystery boxes, which is a mini game where you have to collect all of the coins and defeat all of the enemies to grab the medal before time runs out. When you pass other 3DS owners on the street, your records will in this mini game will be shared with each other.
Super Mario 3D Land shows off everything the 3DS can do. It is the first, true experience on the handheld and is a must buy for anyone who owns the system. Level design is perfect, the power ups are wittier than ever, and the 3D effect is superfluous. 3D Land is the sole reason why you should own a 3DS.
Replay Value: High