tiistai 6. syyskuuta 2016

REVIEW - Super Mario 3D Land

GENRE(S): Platformer
DEVELOPER(S): Nintendo
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo
RELEASE DATE: November 3, 2011

The creation of Super Mario 3D Land began with the most obvious and logical thoughts; the Nintendo 3DS didn't have any launch titles starring Mario, or any big plans for a Super Mario or Legend of Zelda title to be outed in the handheld's first months. Since this was a handheld that boasted on fancy 3D graphics, the new game was a near-obligated 3D title, but there was no way the most recent Super Mario Galaxy series could be ported to the Nintendo 3DS with full steam. So, Mr. Miyamoto once again had a fantastic idea. How about they made a 3D game that played out like a perfect cross between New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Galaxy, a 3D game that 2D Mario fans could just as easily access, one that would serve as a sort of "bridge" to those old-school gamers just getting into 3D Mario? As always, Mr. Miyamoto had a fine nose for this stuff - but this time, he outdid himself. Super Mario 3D Land is basically New Super Mario Bros. 3DS - just lightyears ahead of that series of games, no less than one of the best Mario games ever made. Especially considering the system it was exclusively released on.

Mamma mia, this is awesome!

The most severe thunderstorm in Mushroom Kingdom history strips the rigid Tail Tree of its leaves; these leaves being what gave Mario his flying ability in the jurassic times of Super Mario Bros. 3. Bowser quickly catches on to this mishap and sends his troops to gather the fallen leaves and bring them to him, so he can bless his army of miscreants with the magical powers of these leaves and once again capture Princess Peach, with hopes of finally being able to defeat Mario with the powers he once used to defeat him. Good thing we are here to prove the stubborn old turtle wrong.

I don't think I've ever used this word to describe a game before, but there's no way around it this time: Super Mario 3D Land is an extremely "attractive" game. The box art is pure Mario. Classic enemies, classic power-ups and Mario himself appear in a fancy, colourful 3D setting that really tells a lot more about the game itself than you could imagine. The back cover blurbs "Classic Mario Action with a Modern Twist!" and "Jump and Dash Your Way to the Goal Pole in an all-new adventure" sound like blurbs for New Super Mario Bros., but looking at the screenshots, we're more reminded of a Super Mario 64 of the new age. An image of a game that plays out like a classic Super Mario Bros. game, but looks like Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy (and is named after an 80's handheld classic) seeps into our minds. What's even better, that's exactly what the game is like. Super Mario 3D Land is as close to a new Mario classic than a new Mario game could possibly get, and very likely the singled-out best game the Nintendo 3DS has to offer.

It's classic from the start.
Pitting Super Mario 3D Land against the two prominent strings of platformers of the 21st century reveals that the game truly is a cross between New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Galaxy, although the most essential of its core influences come from the 8- and 16-bit eras. The game is even more straightforward than any iteration of New Super Mario Bros., actually straight as an arrow - there are no secret exits or levels to be found within the confines of a single playthrough - but surprisingly it really doesn't matter at all. The worlds don't have any distinct themes; it's a total mash-up of different experiments - presented just like the different galaxies in Super Mario Galaxy - usually dealing with the fanciest 3D effects and the most diverse level designs the 3DS could handle. Well, at least the game stays fresh all the time! No excessive abundances of anything, that's good. A human heart can only take so much ice and water. In exchange for the game's humongous dose of diversity, the boss fights leading up to the once again epic final battle against Bowser are gradually toughening versions of the same battles against fake Bowsers, or Boom Boom and/or his female counterpart Pom Pom. Not a big problem. The game doesn't have any big problems, actually, beyond some usual technical problems with the 3DS' game screen itself if you're going at the game in full 3D - which have probably been all but harvested when playing the game on a New 3DS.

The NEW Super Mario Bros. you always wanted

Our princess is probably in another castle.
Making a cross between two completely different spheres of Mario, the developers have to be a little careful - judging from the whole cavalcade of power-ups they came up with in the 15 years (or so) leading into Super Mario 3D Land, being careful's good. NO Mini-Mario, NO Mega-Mario. Just Mario, Super Mario, Fire Flower-smelling Mario, Starman-humping Mario, and then the couple of new ones, which are God damn great. Tanooki Mario ain't exactly new, it's just heavily modified from what it was in the oh, so classic Super Mario Bros. 3. Since the levels' design is limited to what you see on the screen - very unprofessionally speaking, but I trust you know what I mean - you can't fly using the Tanooki Suit, but you can hover for a very generous amount of time after a high or long jump. The Tanooki Suit is an irreplaceable life saver in many different situations. The Super Guide of the game is no longer an automatic CPU yawn-fest; failing a level a set amount of times gives you a chance to beat the level yourself in a golden Tanooki Suit, wearing which your only weakness are the bottomless pits. If you can't handle the levels even with the help of this power-up, a P-Wing appears to send you straight to the end of the level. I know it sounds easy, but here's the best part: once you get to the secret worlds of the game, these items no longer appear, and trust me: most of those worlds are SHIT with a capital S. They're basically the same designs brought over from the main game, but heavily modified and stipulated, the heaviest stipulations being the constant appearance of the oh, so pleasant company of the Cosmic Clone, reprising his role from Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 2, and sometimes, a 30-second time limit to finish the level at hand. Although the main game is quite easy - yet comfortable as hell - keep in mind that to complete Super Mario 3D Land, you need to beat it three gradually toughening times.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm loving this.
The Propeller Box allows you to jump to great heights, and usually appears in some special - outright awesome - levels. Finally, the completely and utterly original Boomerang power-up is a blast. With this, you basically gain the power of the Boomerang Brothers who make their first appearance since Super Mario Bros. 3, if I remember correctly. The boomerangs have a long range, and can be used to collect items out of your reach, including Star Medals. Yes, the three Star-somethings in each level from New Super Mario Bros. are back, most of them hidden in plain sight on the first playthrough. You actually need these to unlock certain levels in each world, which makes them much more useful than in any New Super Mario Bros. game - the levels these trinkets unlock are some of the best and most exciting ones in the whole game. Be ready for some retro madness, as well as levels that generally put the 3DS' capabilities to the ultimate test.

Not one bad word, huh? Well, not exactly. Super Mario 3D Land is just that damn good; here goes, nevertheless. The first round is a bit short and easy, with the exception of a few strings of really difficult levels in World 6. The worlds that unlock after the first playthrough are not different enough to spark interest for a second playthrough right away, but the extra challenge is interesting. The third playthrough, well that's starting to feel like the game is outright bullying the player. The levels are still designed pretty much the same, but they're ultra-hard to the constant point of total frustration. ...Here I'm talking like that's a bad thing. Die-hard Mario fans eager for challenge will love the shit out of those levels.


Instead of starting it simple with New Super Mario Bros. when I first got the Nintendo 3DS and started to collect all the Mario titles I've missed during these years, I went straight for Super Mario 3D Land, 'cause it was just so damn attractive. I was most pleased to witness that the attraction is real. If you've long craved for a bridge, the smack middle, of the two graphical dimensions of Mario, you should go, get yourself a 3DS (preferrably the new one), and dig up Super Mario 3D Land. You will not be disappointed. This game is fucking awesome.

+ Looks and sounds delightfully perfect
+ The perfect cross between 2D and 3D Mario
+ Innovative and constantly surprising level design
+ The perfect atmosphere for a bridging title
+ Great tempo, great controls, great power-ups
+ The Bowser fight is one of the best in the best company

- The rest of the boss fights
- Three playthroughs is a bit too much for perfect completion
- Some problems with the game screen blurring up, probably fixed when playing with the New 3DS

< 9.4 >

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