There's no doubt that the 3DS has been in a bit of a slump since it was released earlier this year. However, over the last few months things have changed quite a bit; the price has dropped, Netflix has become available, "Ocarina of Time" was released, and that's just to name a few. Even with all that, there has been one thing that has absolutely plagued the system since launch: no Mario. Well, that's about to all change on November 13 with the release of "Super Mario 3D Land," Mario's first, original, three-dimensional game on a portable system. And the best part, at least for Nintendo, it just may be the system seller they need this holiday season.
Saying "it's an all new Mario game" should really suffice here, because you already know pretty much exactly how it's going to play out. Bowser has, once again, kidnapped the beautiful Princess Peach, and her only hope of salvation comes in the form of an Italian plumber who has a penchant for mushrooms. Travel through eight gooba-riddled worlds to take down King Koopa, and save the constantly abducted Princess.
Unlike Mario's last portable release, "New Super Mario Bros.," "Super Mario 3D Land" strays from the series' classic 2D side scrolling, and opts for 3D gameplay reminiscent of "Mario 64," and "Super Mario Galaxy." In addition the updated gameplay style, "Mario 3D" also sees the return of the Tanooki suit, and the addition of the Boomerang suit, both of which give Mario some pretty sweet new powers.
Getting Your Money's Worth
Nintendo seems to have done something very interesting with Mario's latest adventure, in that it appears that they have pulled some inspiration from one of their biggest competitors, the iPhone. Simply put, most of the levels in "3D Land" are short, like between two and five minutes short. While Mario games have never been known for expansive gameplay, these levels come up on the really short side, and that's not a bad thing. Gaming on the iPhone has created a new type of portable gamer with a short attention span due to the combination of quick, pick-up-and-play games and cheap, disposable content. "Mario 3D Land" is definitely not cheap or disposable, but it is quick to pick up and play, making it more appealing for short bursts of gameplay on the go. That's not to say that there isn't a lot of content here; there are oodles, and that should keep completionists gaming in "3D Land" for a very long time.
3D Worth Burning Your Battery For
One of the things that the 3DS has been knocked for since day one is the fact that the system's 3D is optional, and can be turned on and off at will, with no bearing on the gameplay. "Super Mario 3D Land" adheres to these restrictions, however, should you opt to switch on the 3D, you'll be treated to one of the best experiences on the system. Anything that's shown on the top screen, from cut scenes to gameplay, all looks amazing, and this may be the first game to really force players to make the hard choice between conserving power and utilizing the third dimension.
StreetPass = Free Power-Ups
As a nice little bonus, "Super Mario 3D Land" takes advantage of the 3DS' optional StreetPass feature. While it is just a small part of the game, you can "trade" levels with other players as you pass them on the street, extending your gameplay, as well as increasing the availability of power-ups and Star Medals, which help unlock additional levels throughout the game.
Missing That Jump, Again
Mario was the first old school video game character to successfully make the transition from 2D to 3D, doing so in one of the most beloved games of all time "Super Mario 64." However, since Mario made the jump to the third dimension there has always been one thing that he has had trouble doing: jumping. The game's third person perspective, coupled with the small 3DS screen, can make landing jumps where you want them to a bit of a challenge. Because of this, you end up playing the game looking at Mario's shadow more than Mario when he is in the air, and that still doesn't guarantee that you're going land where you want to.
A Mario Cakewalk
Unfortunately, the downward trend of challenging Mario games continues with "Super Mario 3D Land." Similar to "NSMBW" if you die a repeated number of times in a level, the game offers you some assistance by adding a bonus Tanooki leaf at the beginning of the level. If you still continue to die, the game will then offer you a P-wing to teleport you to the end of the level, bypassing any troublesome areas. On top of all that, 1-ups are abundant throughout each level, making it hard to ever get a true Game Over. While these things are a great addition for younger and more inexperienced gamers, longtime fans of the series may take some issue with it.
Mario is one of the most recognizable video game character ever created, and he's also one of the most dependable. Each time that plumber's face appears on the box of an original platformer, you know that you're in for a treat. With expectations high for this particular title, Nintendo pulled through and further refined Mario to take advantage of their latest handheld. While it is just pure speculation, if this game was available at launch, Nintendo might not be behind in the count at this point in the game. "Super Mario 3D Land" heralds the triumphant return for Mario to handhelds, as well as Nintendo pulling out the big guns to stake their claim on this holiday season.