NY Comic Con Hands-On: Super Mario 3DLand - Preview

By Chris Matulich, October 19, 2011
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Nintendo's booth at NYCC was surprisingly chock full of this year's (and next year's) upcoming games, including Super Mario 3DLand - the first Mario title to hit the 3DS. Nintendo hopes that everyone's favorite mascot will help revive the handheld from a slow, downward spiral. And if you were expecting it not to be the best game to hit the 3DS yet, then you're just silly.

Super Mario 3D Land showcased a bunch of levels from World 2, resembling the grass lands you find throughout the series. Many classic enemies return and receive some new abilities, like the Tanooki Goombas, Bullet Bills, Boos, Bomb-ombs, and black Venus Fire Traps, and await Mario with a challenging adventure. Level progression fantastically mixes 2D, 2.5D, and 3D platforming to once again create a unique Mario experience.

Navigating environments actually becomes a bit easier while utilizing the 3D, making obstacles pop out more visibly. SM3DLand also provides crutches for the newly initiated (or horrifically bad) players whose plumbing skills are not up to par, giving invincibility and a Tanooki suit if you die five times, and a P-Wing (which lets you skip the level) after 10. While the 3D aspects provide a majority of gameplay, the classic 2D style makes a comeback, giving way to timed levels instead of collecting Power Stars, and even sees the flagpole return, as well as doing away with a life bar in favor of the retro form.

If Mario gets hit with a suit, he'll lose the power up, and if he has no suit, he'll become small Mario. It definitely gives longtime fans a little something more to be excited about, giving that it an old-school feel. His punch is noticeably absent, though it's not a major distraction since items are numerous and an extra one can be carried along. Relying on the ground pound would eventually become boring, but Mario has also received a dodge roll of sorts (it's all the rage now), causing no damage but very useful against bosses and difficult enemies.

The build primarily featured the Fire Flower and the return of the Tanooki Suit. The Flower sees no apparent changes and works as intended. Having the Tanooki Suit brings back wonderful childhood memories, as fluttering around and tail-spinning everything is a blast. It's particularly useful against Boom Boom (the spinning Koopa boss) and the boss levels, which return in all their glory from Super Mario 3. It's integrated perfectly into the engine, utilizing the 2D and 2.5D aspects to highlight the ship's moving level and plethora of Bullet Bills to traverse. It all leads you to Boom Boom who even has some new tricks up his sleeve. These stages are equally familiar and fresh, making an already rewarding experience even better. 

With just a short month(ish) until release, Super Mario 3DLand will carry the long lasting torch onto the 3DS. It definitely looks to be the savior Nintendo hopes it will be, even using the 3D effect for beneficial purposes! Look for some fresh, classic plumbing action on November 13th in the U.S, and the 18th in Europe. 

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