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Mario looks good in 3D, despite some missed opportunities

January 27, 2012

The Nintendo 3DS may not have had the the best launch in gaming history, but Nintendo has been quick to bolster their sales despite posting record losses. The famous plumber might have missed day 1 of their new portable, but Super Mario 3D Land did well to hit the shelves soon after. Intermingling elements from some of the most famous entries, Mario 3D is another solid, yet exhausted entry in the Mario legacy.

If you have played a Mario game before, chances are you can guess the main plot. After Bowser captures Princess, Mario must plow through eight worlds of Hammer Bros, Goombas and Koopa Troopers to get her back. The raccoon tail power-up long absent from the series returns to Mario’s arsenal in a reduced form, in that Mario is not able to fly. Also introduced is a suit that bestows on Mario the ability to throw boomerangs at his opponents, giving players a small feeling of revenge against the Hammer Bros’ players have wasted countless mushrooms trying to defeat. The enemies aren’t always without means of fighting back, however, as they eventually begin to come with their own raccoon tails to add a fresh turn on their usual attack patterns.

Gameplay aside, there are only a few occasions in the game where you are tasked with puzzles where the 3D mechanic lends itself to solving the puzzle. While the premise is simple enough, the implications of adding this to entire levels could have been amazing. Entire platforming sequences could become quite tricky to negotiate correctly, thereby reviving the challenge that early Mario games presented. Sadly, the mechanic is confined solely to tiny rooms and is used only a handful of times. Perhaps the designers were being cautious with such a distinct visual technique altering the gameplay too much, or they were afraid of alienating those who don’t prefer the 3D on their games (though if you didn’t, I have no clue why you would purchase a 3DS in the first place). In either case, I hope future Mario titles will take advantage of that level of 3D potential.

Like most Mario games of recent years, Mario 3D is light-hearted and incredibly easy to finish. I finished half of the game in my first sitting alone and actually went back and perfected the levels I didn’t find all of the coins in. I had hoped that such a keystone franchise would have a more significant impact since it was the first Mario game on the 3DS, but sadly it does not carry the same weight or polish that went into Ocarina of Time 3D. Nevertheless, the levels were entertaining and it was nice to see classic Mario elements return with a fresh coat of paint … or in this case, denim overalls.

See you in the next level,

Gray

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