It was disappointing when the Nintendo 3DS didn't launch with a truly killer title to play on it. In fact, it's even more disappointing that we've had to wait eight months for a true Nintendo classic to pop up on the system.
And here it is, in the form of the world's favourite plucky red plumber and his Goomba-bashing, fire-flowering, flagpole-jumping antics.
Super Mario 3D Land is not the best Mario game ever. It may not be the best handheld Mario game. But it's still an absolute delight, with ideas taken from past titles in the franchise, merged together with some excellent stereoscopic 3D concepts.
If you've already bought a Nintendo 3DS, you don't really need to read this review - you were always going to buy Mario anyway. But it's nice to know that you're finally getting that quality, original 3DS title that you've been waiting for.Chomp chomp on this
Super Mario 3D Land won't surprise you very often. It offers gameplay that's a mix of New Super Mario Bros, Mario Galaxy, and hints of other past titles.
It works because the blend is spot-on. Levels are usually linear in their layout, with worlds hovering above falls into oblivion and featuring a variety of classic Mario enemies scattered about.
The game looks fantastic, with graphics that are on a par with Mario Sunshine. The stereoscopic 3D is used to great effect, too, with special 'Mystery Box' levels that purposely mess with your mind and place platforms in such a way that you can't tell which are in front and which are behind Mario.
For those people who find the 3D effects nauseating, Nintendo has found a solution. Pressing up and down on the D-pad allows you to choose the type of 3D you want - the effect can go 'into' the screen or come 'out' of it. One of the two is bound to suit you.
Hopefully, more games will pick up on this feature, as it genuinely could make the console more accessible to more gamers.Catching a Tanooki
The Tanooki tail power-up features heavily in 3D Land, allowing Mario to hover slowly downwards and bounce to greater heights that he usually can.
You'll find that the power-up is available during pretty much every level, and you'll use it often. It adds a dimension to Mario's handling, making this Super Mario 3D Land feel palpably different from a lot of previous Mario titles.
The tail isn't the only blast from the past, as 3D Land is packed with nostalgia-inducing material. Goombas, Whomps, Chain Chomps, secret warp zones, flagpoles at the end of each level - it's all been built to accommodate both new players and Mario veterans.
Levels are also timed, similar to the very first Mario title - although it's easy to forget this since you'll rarely even come close to running out of time, even when you go hunting for those last few Star Coins in each level.Mari-oh
Super Mario 3D Land is a rip-roaring success, and will no doubt fuel hundreds of thousands of 3DS purchases this Christmas.
You should note, however, that Mario enthusiasts will most likely be left wanting more rather quickly. You can romp through the main storyline in around four hours, even if you're taking your time and collecting the Star Coins.
Without spoiling anything, the extra bits you unlock will then take you another four hours to complete. Overall, to see everything and collect it all, we're talking a total of ten hours of gameplay, which is rather short for a Mario title.
It's also one of the easiest Mario games ever released. During our entire playthrough, we died fewer than 50 times, and rarely felt challenged.
The Star Coins barely add any replay value, either, as they're so easy to find and collect. We ended up grabbing more than 80 per cent of the coins during our first run-through without even trying that hard. They're rarely hidden, and usually just out in the open in easy-to-reach areas.
These issues aren't enough to bring down the experience, however, especially when you factor in the little secrets hidden here and there and the StreetPass functionality.Super Mario 3D Land is exactly what the doctor ordered, and yet another unsurprisingly great addition to the Mario canon. If you haven't bagged yourself a Nintendo 3DS yet, now might be a good time to do so.
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