Super Mario 3D World has finally made its way onto the portable console after four years of waiting and frankly was the last port I was waiting for. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury finally brings one of Mario’s best adventures to the Switch with a slew of new features, making this the definitive version of the game.
Super Mario 3D World was the follow up to Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS, which turned Mario platforming levels into small dioramas with unique mechanics to discover from level to level. 3D World expands on that concept with even more interesting ideas, like a cherry powerup that duplicates your character and of course the now iconic cat suit which lets you climb up walls and pounce on your enemies. It also brings back the four playable characters from the awkward step child of the side scrolling Mario games, Super Mario Bros 2. Luigi still has his higher jump, Peach floats elegantly in the sky and Toad is the fastest runner of the group. Rosalina can also be unlocked as a 5th playable character and can spin jump similar to the Mario Galaxy games. While all the characters share Mario’s moveset each of these quirks do give them their own flavor in gameplay. Peach’s for instance is versatile for players to cross tricky gaps or help newer players grasp the platforming amidst the chaos.
Now on Switch you can not only do local co-op but also online co-op for up to four players. This is a very welcome addition, especially considering most of the world is still in some form of lockdown. Being able to play with my friends anywhere is great, and from the few online play sessions i’ve had, online co-op works surprisingly well given Nintendo’s mixed track record with online play. It can get stutter-y at times and it seems like players joining on the host player might have some minor latency here and there, but it’s at least competent enough to have a lot of chaotic fun with three other friends.
The bulk of new stuff in this port comes from the newly added mode, Bowser’s Fury which takes 3D Mario platforming levels and drops them into an open world. Bowser Jr. has recruited you in helping him save his father, who is now kaiju sized and wreaking havoc. As Mario you’ll explore each island, which is its own self contained platforming level. Think of the paintings in Mario 64 but instead you just ride Plessie, the amphibious dino, across the waters to each destination. Each island will offer different cat shines to collect, like how you collected multiple stars in any given level. It’s not always that simple, though. When Fury Bowser makes his appearance, he’ll rain fireballs from the sky and blast fire at you from afar which might make the platforming part just a little more challenging from moment to moment cause he can appear at any time. However you can brace for his appearance as it’s forewarned by his ominous black shell rising into the sky. His sudden appearances could get annoying at times when he’d just appear out of the blue while I’m taking on an already tough platforming section, but with the ability to bank up to five power-ups at any time, you can pretty much come out mostly unscathed from his attacks with the help of these. Also whenever you collect a cat shine you can send him packing to buy yourself a breather from his attacks so sometimes it doesn’t hurt to wait to grab cat shine if you know he’s on his way.
All in all, Bowser’s Fury felt like a tech demo for where Nintendo maybe wants to take Mario games going forward. It’s cool that they included this mode with 3D World to give us this potential glimpse into where things are going but this felt a little repetitive at times. In my five-to-six hour play time with this new mode, I found myself having to leave an island and return to it to get the next cat shine challenge to load which could be annoying. There’s over 100 shines to collect in this mode, so it isn’t really a problem unless you’re a hardcore collector like myself. Overall, it felt less freeform than Odyssey because each island was a constructed section with mostly one way through it. It’s also less inventive than 3D World because the world is less designed around a power up’s abilities. I hope if this is their potential direction with Mario going forward they mix in some more elements that made those previous games so good.
Super Mario 3D World was already a fantastic game on Wii U and i’m excited to finally see it get into more people’s hands. They didn’t make many changes to the base game, but with additions like online play and the new Bowser’s Fury mode it’s an easy recommendation to make for any Switch owner. Even if you’re not into multiplayer, 3D World is a great experience single player with tons of unique flavor that no other Mario game can offer on the platform. The direction the next Mario game will take remains to be unseen, but if Bowser’s Fury is any indication they at least want to try and expand on what we think a Mario game is and that’s exciting from a long time fans perspective. We’ll just have to wait and see where the jump man goes next.