Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo 3DS)
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: November 13, 2011
Price: $39.99

✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✩

Score: 9/10

About a month back at the New York Comic Con, we experienced a less than perfect Super Mario 3D Land. When we played it back then, we thought that the jumps were hard to measure. Unlike other 3DS titles, however, where the 3D is a throwaway feature, it's essential in Super Mario 3D Land.

In fact, we’d go the length to say that this is some of the best 3D we’ve ever seen in our entire lives, making Super Mario 3D Land a classic.

 

3D TO DIE FOR

Let’s face facts. 3D, for the most part, is worthless. Aside from flicks like Avatar that really showed us true depth in scenery instead of, “Whoa, watch out! It’s heading right for the screen,” moments, 3D has been woefully misused. Until now. Super Mario 3D Land truly is a 3D experience that needs to BE in 3D to not only be appreciated, but to be played.

There are many levels in this game that implement the 3D in ways where you truly feel like you’re leaping from great heights, or other moments where you need to see a problem in a different perspective to complete it. It’s what 3D should have been all along for gaming, and it could mean the beginning of a new 3D era for the system. Here’s hoping, because the 3DS could use some more quality titles like this.

 

THAT GOOD 'OL FASHION, HOP AND BOP GAMEPLAY

What makes this game a complete win is how much it harkens back to the older games in the series. We don’t want to upset anybody here, but it’s sort of like what the new game Sonic Generations should have been like. Combining only the BEST moments (though, Mario rarely has any bad moments) from both the 2D, SMB3 era, to the 3D, Super Mario 64/Galaxy era, the stages are so varied and unique that you can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. It’s an enthralling feeling, knowing that you’re going to be surprised every time you move on to the next level.

Many of the old, Mario staples are in this game, like the Tanooki suit from SMB3 and ghost houses, but they’re utilized in such inventive ways, that they somehow seem brand new. Every level, from underwater adventures to top-down runs through castles is enjoyable, and the game never lags in the fun department.

Except when it comes to boss battles, where Nintendo just got lazy. There are only two kinds of boss encounters in this game—running through Bowser’s castle and trouncing him by hopping on a switch that sends him into lava, a la, the very first SMB, or, flying ship levels, a la, SMB3. It kind of gets old and it’s surprising that with such creativity in the other levels that the boss encounters would be so dialed down and weak. It’s a shame, and it brings the game down form perfection.

 

CHALLENGING, LIKE A SUPER MARIO BROS. GAME SHOULD BE

We’re not going to lie. We’re pretty awesome when it comes to Mario games. And we beat the first quest in this game without a problem. It only took us about four hours. A good reason for this is that the first play through is MEANT to be easy, and we know this because if you die five times in any one level, you get a special invincibility Tanooki suit when you can plow through the game—even the bosses—while wearing it. Needless to say, we only tried it once to see what it was like, and seriously, it’s overpowered beyond belief.

But AFTER you beat the game, oh, man, the real challenge emerges. This second quests, which basically revamps the previous levels and adds some twists, is for true Mario fans only. Once simple stages get about 100% more challenging when you have shadow Mario’s chasing you throughout, keeping you out of reach from those precious star medals.

Oh, and that’s another thing we have to mention. Like in previous titles, where you had to collect stars or star coins, this game is the same. And if you’re a completist, like us, then getting every last one of those damn star medals is a challenge unto itself. Especially when you have to use Luigi at times (but we’re not going to spoil anything else for you. Just buy the game already. It’s great!)

 

THE GAME THE 3DS NEEDED ALL ALONG

Honestly, we wish we worked at Nintnedo. Not because we don’t love our sweet gigs here, but because we would have made the 3DS a success with one simple solution. Hold off on releasing the handheld until this game could have been a launch title.

Seriously, with the only other GREAT games on this system being previous games from OTHER systems, an original title like Super Mario 3D Land would have sold the damn thing like hot cakes. Hell, WE would have gotten a 3DS the first day if this game came out at launch. It might have been one of the best launches ever for a handheld, if not THE best. No question about it.

So, that said, it’s obvious then that this is the best game the 3DS has to offer. If you have the handheld, then it’s a MUST that you get this game. But you already knew that. In fact, you probably already have it and just too a break from playing it to read this article. I don’t know if I’d recommend buying the handheld just for THIS game, but when Super Mario Kart 7 comes out for it, I might change my mind. Whatever you decide, Super Mario 3D Land is aces.