Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo| Publisher: Nintendo| Platform: 3DS| Genre: Platformer| RRP: £39.99
In the recent years there has been two series of Mario games; New Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Galaxy. Whilst the Galaxy series has continued in the 3D Space and achieved fantastic critical acclaim the NSMB series resurrected the classic 2D gameplay and become a phenomenon. Now on the 3DS Nintendo is attempted to take everything that’s good in the 2D series to the 3D realm, with a little help from the autostereoscopic screen.
Although 3D Land takes place in full 3D Worlds the controls are much closer to the 2D games(particularly Super Mario World). Instead of using Analog running the game instead uses a run button; this may seem strange at first but I think it works for the better, especially during the later levels, due to the small size of the slide pad. The game also excises a few of Mario’s more acrobatic maneuvers but does give him a new roll which is useful for breaking blocks and quickly navigating small areas. For the most part though the game only requires you to run and jump which is a big part of what makes the 2D games, and 3D Land, great.
The level design in 3D Land is flat out amazing. The vast majority of levels are linear but have a variety of different shortcuts and paths to take. Not only that but every second of every single level is designed to give the optimal 3D experience. The strongest point in the level design has to be the fact that it uses all 3D space and the use of vertical space in particular is brilliantly done.
The difficulty of the Mario series has taken some serious criticism in recent years due to feelings that they are too easy. It’s easy to think this at the beginning of the game, in fact I didn’t lose a life in the first two worlds at all. Towards the end of the first half of the game though you’ll be dying quite frequently and in the last world it’s easy to lose over twenty lives on one level. The game is only occasionally frustrating though and even when you do die it just makes you want to ace it. After you’ve finished the game there’s still fun to be had though because the game records your best speeds and challenges you to improve which is further enhanced by best speed exchanges through StreetPass.
3D Land’s Presentation, like every other aspect, is nailed. The game looks really nice. Whilst it mixes the style of NSMB and Galaxy with classic throwbacks it still manages to have its own style due to a unique use of camera angles and the 3D effect. 3D Land even includes two forms of 3D, one popping out and one stretching in, both look great and it comes down to personal preference(I went with the former). On a technical level the game looks great with crisp visuals, full shadows(which are put to great use in the hunt for coins) and some nice shader use. The very final level is downright mindblowing, you have to be careful not to be distracted – and that level is already really difficult! The music is similarly great, whilst it doesn’t have any orchestral pieces like the Galaxy games the new music has that trademark Mario bounciness and infectiousness. It also has some cool revamps of classic tunes, including Super Mario Bros 3′s Athletic Theme.
Super Mario 3D Land is without equal on the 3DS. EAD Tokyo has taking every aspect of Mario and perfected it and then masterfully weaved them together in a game that manages to be both nostalgic yet groundbreaking. It is without a doubt the best game on the 3DS and a very strong contender for best Mario game ever.