After waiting much less time than I had anticipated, I was finally about to try Super Mario 3D World, alongside three other loyal Nintendo fans. In order to keep time moving quickly, each group would play two levels. I selected Luigi, and the first level began.
While the perspective is different, Super Mario 3D World has a couple things in common with New Super Mario Bros. U. First, the Wii remote controls (which I used in both my levels) were very similar to Mario’s recent sidescrollers. Second, just like those Mario sidescrollers, four player co-op is chaos. As four different players raced around the screen, it was often difficult to find my bearings.
Luckily, the first level we tried seemed to have that classic Mario “early level” feel to it. The pace seemed to be intentionally slower in order to give players a bit of a chance to learn the ropes. Almost immediately, we discovered the cat suit, which is activated when you find an icon resembling a bell. The cat suit is definitely interesting. You can use it to climb up walls, and if you have it at the end of a level, your character will automatically climb to the top of the flag pole, earning you an extra life.
After the first level, I switched over to Toad. Just like in Super Mario Bros. 2, the two characters I selected felt quite different from one another. Luigi has his classic jumping ability, while Toad feels stockier and faster. The second stage had us traveling through clear warp pipes while attempting to avoid a group of Fuzzies that would go through the pipes at the same time. This level put a focus on the Fire Flower this time, rather than the cat suit. Fire balls could be sent through the pipes and after the Fuzzy opponents. Without the Fire Flower, the only way to avoid the pack of Fuzzies is by taking different detours through warp pipe exits and then reentering after the group has passed. Unfortunately, I was low on life as we approached the flag pole. Rather than chance things and go for the extra life, I raced to the finish as quickly as I could, a tactic I’d used on more than a few occasions in 2D Mario titles. While I’d survived, I would soon pay for not going for the extra points.
After each level, the group is ranked, likely based on points and the number of stars and coins collected. Sad to say… I ranked fourth. While I was allowed to take a Luigi hat and Mario Kart flag (they were out of Year of Luigi coins), I felt I hadn’t earned it. Second place I could understand. After all, nothing says Luigi like second place. He could understand that. But fourth? With great shame, I stepped away as the next group started their session.
Despite my poor showing, I was lucky in that I got to watch multiple groups try the game. Super Mario 3D World was by far the most popular choice among players at the event. In the hour and a half or so that I spent at Best Buy, I only witnessed one session of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and one session of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Everyone else was picking Mario or Mario Kart.
The next group tried two different levels. The first level they tried had the four players riding what appeared to be a dragon up a level length water way. The level was very different from what we’ve seen in recent Mario outings. It almost looked like something that would be more at home in a Mario Party title than in a traditional Mario game. Unfortunately, this party was struggling with steering the boat together. I watched in horror as the team went over a waterfall not once, but twice.
The next level I watched was a boss level. This one was interesting because defeating the boss required the use of the cat suit. The boss was a large, snake like creature that shot straight up from the ground along with several smaller snakes. To defeat the boss, Mario and company had to climb the smaller snakes using the cat claws, then ground pound on the larger enemy’s head once they reached the top.
One of the jarring things about Super Mario 3D World is the game’s isometric perspective. I loved Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS, but it felt strange playing in this perspective on a large TV. It’s something I’m going to have to get used to, I must say. While the game was a lot of fun and felt like classic Mario, it probably wasn’t the ideal circumstances in which to get a strong feel for the game. Multiplayer Mario really does feel chaotic, especially when you’re trying to adjust to new power-ups and an unfamiliar perspective. One thing is for sure, though: I’m very much looking forward to playing this one again.
Stay tuned to Nintendojo for the final part of my impressions from The Nintendo Experience at Best Buy. Next up: Mario Kart 8!