'Super Mario 3D World' Lets The Cat Out Of The Bag

November 21, 2013

Mario may be the most important person in the entire video game industry. He's been around for over 30 years, appeared in over 200 games, been everything from a doctor to a baseball player, and hasn't aged a day. He and his friends are Nintendo's safety net, and the cornerstone of their business. Needless to say, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad aren't going anywhere any time soon. As long as Nintendo has a platform to release his games on, Mario will soldier on, stomping Goombas and chasing after Bowser until the end of time.

After only a year on the market, Nintendo's latest console, the Wii U, is no stranger to Mario, as he has already appeared in one proper release, New Super Mario Bros. U, and a handful of others, including his recent sports-themed crossover with his former rival, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. His latest canon title, Super Mario 3D World builds on the gameplay of 2011's excellent 3DS game, Super Mario 3D Land, by bringing the Mushroom Kingdom gangs' unique skills to an expertly designed platforming game on the Wii U. The result is one of their best games yet.

Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Publisher: Nintendo

Nintendo is the house that Mario built, so who better to bring the chubby plumber's latest adventure to life than them. While series creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, may have been a bit more hands off on this release than he would have been earlier in his career, everything about the game still needed his stamp of approval. In fact, it's quite likely that this may be the last Mario game that he will be hands on with, as he passes the reins to the worthy team at EAD Tokyo.

You already know pretty much what Super Mario 3D World is: It's a new Super Mario, game, and because of that, there's certain things that you can expect: Bowser is the bad guy. Mario and Luigi are the good guys. There's a whole bunch of platforming levels. After that, Super Mario 3D World starts to change up the formula just a little bit.

First and foremost, in addition to Mario and Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach are also playable characters. While Toad has been the default third character for the last few Mario games, this is Peach's first game where she joins the brothers since 1988's Super Mario Bros. 2. Also, since Peach is playable, she clearly hasn't been kidnapped again, which is a welcome change to the format. Instead you're trying to help out another one of Mario's past damsels in distress, and her fairy friends.

Some other fresh additions are two of the game's new, marquee power-ups: the Double Cherry and the Bell. The Double Cherry replicates whatever character collected it, meaning that there can be two Marios, or five Peachs on the screen at one time if you keep picking them up. The extra characters make for some interesting ways to solve some of the game's puzzles. On the other hand, the Bell turns your character into a cat. Yes, a cat. While this may seem like a way to make the game cuter, and more appealing, the cat suit actually opens up some interesting ways to play. As a cat, you character can climb walls, and pounce on things, allowing you to reach out of the way places, and attack from afar. Plus, it is pretty adorable.

These are just a handful of the new ideas that are introduced in Super Mario 3D World, but there are others, like the Kuribo's ice skate, or the levels that use shadow play. Whether you're going at the game solo, or with up to three friends, there's going to be something new for everyone in this game.

Super Mario 3D World is only appearing on the Wii U this holiday season. While only a handful of levels make use of the Wii U's dual-screen design, it takes full advantage of the system's HD video and Miiverse integration. 3D World is destined to be one of the console's best selling games of all time, so you might as well jump in on the ground floor by either picking it up at retail or downloading it straight to your system.

At first glance, a lot of Super Mario 3D World can seem gimmicky; with Mario as a cat, double and triple Luigis, to the levels that use the Wii U GamePad. Independently, each of these things could just be something that Nintendo tacked on to the same Mario game that you've been playing for years. Fortunately for all the Wii U owners out there, that couldn't be further from the truth. All of the new power-ups were thoughtfully crafted, and feel like they bring something new to the table - especially the game's signature cat suit. From the groundwork that was laid for 3D Land, 3D World built a more expansive and challenging game, that incorporates new and enjoyable gameplay ideas at every turn. If you've left the Mario franchise because you thought it was getting tired, Super Mario 3D World proves that there are still a lot of places that this plumber and his friends can go. There's clearly a reason why Super Mario 3D World was nominated for VGX Game of the Year - it's because it's a great game, worthy of the honor.