If there’s one gaping hole in the 3DS’ game lineup thus far (actually, there are many), it’s the distinct lack of a Mario game. Ever since the NES, Nintendo systems have been pretty much defined by the plumber’s adventures, and so I was interested to get my hands on his first 3D game designed specifically for a handheld, Super Mario 3D.
Platformers are one of the genres that stand to benefit the most from 3D technology. In Mario 64 and Galaxy, it was difficult to judge the distance between one side of a gap and another when the camera was behind Mario. In Mario 3D, it becomes much easier to judge due to the sense of depth provided by the top screen. It also made it quite easy to stomp on a Goomba’s head, as it was easier to tell when I was right above him.
As far as the rest of the gameplay goes, you know what to expect—it’s a Mario platform game. He is the king of the genre for a reason—it’s a lot of fun. The game has been described by its creators as a mix between Mario 64 and the Galaxy games—a tantalizing combination. However, as I played, I found it had more in common with the side-scrolling Mario titles than you might think. Whereas, the sidescrollers simply have you run to the right, dodge obstacles, and get to the end of the level, the 3D titles typically have a more complicated goal to achieve. Super Mario 3D, on the other hand, combines 360-degree movement with a more linear level structure. The two levels I played both had me precision-jumping around platforms, dodging enemies, and donning powerups as I made my way to the flag at the end—just like Mario 3 or World. You even turn into ‘small’ Mario after getting hit, and must find a powerup or else risk dying when hit again.
If you want to survive in this game, you’ll need to pick up some powerups. Lots of classic suits are on hand, such as the fire flower and raccoon suit, and you’ll need the offensive kick they provide since Mario can’t punch or spin in his normal form.
The graphics are nice and colourful, as expected. The two levels I played were of the ‘World 1-1’ variety, with greenery everywhere and a bright blue sky. Mario himself looks great and animates fluidly. I was a little disappointed not to see the same level of sparkling shine that covered everything in Galaxy, especially considering this game is more linear, meaning they don’t have as much to render all at once. Not the ‘best’ graphics we’ve seen on the platform, but it’s still no slouch. It was difficult to get a reading on the sound thanks to the roaring show floor, but what I heard of the leaps and coin grabs, you won’t find too much that’s unfamiliar.
Super Mario 3D is headlining a great 3DS lineup this holiday season.