Super Mario 3D Land

On December 17, 2011, in General, by Neil Stevens

Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS was such a satisfying game. After having completed New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and gotten terribly, terribly disappointed by its frustrating physics and tedious level design, 3D Land was refreshing.

The central concept of the game is that it’s a hybrid of 2D and 3D. Specifically, the game pulls heavily from Super Mario Bros. 3 in a most satisfying way. SMB 3’s music, Raccoon Mario, and Tanuki Suit all come back strong. Donut lifts and note blocks also feature prominently. Other games aren’t left out, though: Blargg’s back, the infernal rotating platforms from New SMB are all over the place, and so on. You get some Ghost Houses, but they’re not really puzzles so much as memorization levels, now.

There are new powerups, features, and monsters, too. There’s some evil Yoshi that comes up, stupid horse. Bees, argh, the bees! And boomerang Mario gets to give the Boomerang Bros. their comeuppance.

But don’t let the Land in the name fool you: the Super Mario Land-inspired bouncing Ice Mario powerup is gone, and Daisy is nowhere to be seen. Nor do you have to fly Sky Pop.

The thing you’ll be focused on all game long if you’re over the age of 12 is that you don’t just complete every level, but you complete every level while collecting all three big coins, the mechanic finalized in the DS’s New Super Mario Bros. Not that it’s all that hard at first: You’ll complete all eight worlds in no time, if you’re like me. But that’s when the game truly starts, and the difficulty curve truly begins to rise: playing all eight worlds of the Special World.

It was fun. Well, I’d say 90% of the levels were great. Some were just frustrating, as certain Special World gimmicks I won’t spoil aren’t really compatible with the 3D format. Autoscrolling also tends to strain the camera angles. Further, when the game deliberately gimmicks up the camera, it can be maddening as well. Especially when combined with the aforementioned autoscrolling plus gimmicks, a pileon featured in Special World 8.

So yes, there will be moments of rage, but overall it’s a fantastic game. It’s by far the most enjoyable of the 3D Mario games to me, and it’s not even close. It’s also far better than the two New Super Mario Bros. installments, in my book. It’s easily comparable with Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World in the pantheon of Mario, in fact. It’s just that good.

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