Super Mario 3D Land Review – He Couldn’t Even Fix a Toilet

1981 brought the introduction of a character that changed gaming as we know it. Two years later and he took a break from dodging barrels to run after his beloved princess from the grips of a giant turtle. He’s such an iconic person that I bet everyone has a picture in their mind now of the world’s most loved plumber. And earlier this week, Mario made yet another return into the gaming world, this time in full 3D.

Super Mario 3D Land doesn’t change the iconic story one bit. Mario is still chasing after Princess Peach, trying desperately to rescue her from Bowser’s evil hands. Only this time, there’s a twist! Special leaves have bestowed a Tanooki tail upon many living things within the Mushroom Kingdom. What? What kind of twist were you expecting within a Mario game?

The whole game plays like a mix-up of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Galaxy, by which I mean that half of the game is made up of traditional 2D-ish levels and the other half just have exactly the same tasks but from a different, more 3D viewpoint. For those of you that don’t know the series, get out from under your rock and pay attention to the world. Basically the whole game is based around jumping on things, collecting coins and kicking turtles. What more could you ask for?

Mushroom Kingdom is a colourful, cheerful place to be, in which no-one really has any cares. Well, until Bowser shows his ugly face. One moment you’re excited about the idea of stuffing your face with cake and the next you’re embarking on a dangerous journey in order to save your love. But even when you’re doing this, the game keeps its childish charm, which glues your eyes to the screen whether you’re enjoying yourself or not.

Platforming is the most prominent feature of this game (and the whole series), and although it’s widely known that 3D platforming just doesn’t work, you can tell the developers have tried their hardest to make it playable and appealing. It’s a shame that it still doesn’t really work though, for large parts of the levels, you’re misjudging leaps of faith and falling to your imminent death. You’d expect the 3D feature of the console to help with your jumping calculations, but it doesn’t actually add very much to the game at all, and although the game itself is easy, you’ll find yourself becoming extremely frustrated at what should be the easiest element of the game.

The Tanooki suit that Mario finds every two feet in game does help with this problem though. Without it, expect to spend about two minutes attempting to jump and squash your enemy, but with it, you can pretty much speed through the level, ploughing your way through the enemies, swirling away, almost as if you’re constantly using the Starman power up. This sudden change in difficulty really detracts you from the feeling of being immersed in the game.

The constant switching may be like experiencing the best of both worlds for fans, but for people who want to sit down and enjoy a nice game, it’s nothing more than an annoyance. Seriously Nintendo, pick a number of dimensions and stick to it. When looking at the whole game, it appears to be more indecisive than a toddler asked to pick between its teddy bear and a blanket. Both are great in their own way but you can’t handle them at the same time.

During the game, it’s possible to play as lovable Luigi (although, seeing as I was playing this before it was released, I didn’t actually get to play this part), which is more than enough to brighten anyone’s day.

You’ll be glad to know that the game features all the enemies that you love and even those that got on your nerves every time you turned on a Mario game. Although the game tries to take on a new feel, it’s nice to know that existing fans can still pick it up and feel familiar with the world around them. Due to the effort and hard work put into the game, even the half Tanooki, half Goomba creatures will feel as traditional as your grandmother’s speech every Christmas.

Despite the problems that have been pointed out throughout this review, it’s understandable for Nintendo to include each of these features in order to attract a brand new audience as well as the large fanbase following the plumber’s every movement and hopefully it’ll be embraced by all. If not, that’s fine, there’s always next year to win back the people who turned their backs and correct any mistakes found within this game.

The bright colours and heart-warming music adds a great sense of friendship between you and the tiny block of plastic and metal, which is a huge achievement for anyone to make. The music is all suitably Mario-esque, right down the tiny sound effects that you barely hear. To say it’s created on a handheld console, the graphics are extremely close to those of the Wii and they really show off the full potential of the 3DS. Every technological aspect of this game adds nothing but positive vibes to the whole experience, so that even when you’re considering throwing the DS out of your window, you’ll take the time to turn the volume up so that you can listen to the catchy music as it falls to its doom.

If you have a few minutes spare in your day, this is definitely a wonderful game to pick up, as long as you don’t want to use it a relaxation device. However, play the game for long periods at time and you’ll fast become deadly enemies. Depending on the way and amount you play it, it could be a blessing or a disaster within your life.

For this reason alone, the game is awarded a 7/10 – good but not the best this year has seen.


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Sian Bradley

Sian is a co-founder of Cubed Gamers, having been around since 2011. When she isn't helping to manage the site, she's exploring every nook and cranny in games to create guides you didn't know you needed.