It only took six months but Nintendo finally released their first original must-have 3DS game. Super Mario 3D Land is another solid entry into the Super Mario Bros. series. It fits into a space right between New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Galaxy. Super Mario 3D Land is the perfect mix between old and new to keep things familiar without feeling stale.
The balance between old and new starts with the suits and power ups that are available for Mario. You of course still get the standard mushrooms, flowers, stars, and green 1 ups. The best news here is the Tanooki suit making its first appearance since Super Mario Bros 3. The game is built with the Tanooki suit right in your face as they are everywhere. The new addition here is the blue shell that lets you throw boomerangs. The Boomerang Bros have been in many games before but this is the first time Mario can use their powers.
The other new addition here, (being that this is a 3DS game) is the 3D in Super Mario 3D Land. The 3D feature definitely takes the front seat here and is more than just eye candy. Sure it makes the game look fantastic but there’s more the than that. There were several points in the game where I had to turn the 3D on to get through the level without rage quitting the 3DS against a wall. I mean that in the best way possible as it is a welcome challenge that brought a smile to my face. The use of different camera angles and platform layout make for a very enjoyable experience. The levels were designed with the 3D feature in mind so crank it up full blast and enjoy the ride.
Super Mario 3D Land is a wonderful combination of elements from the various Mario series. It takes different elements from New Super Mario Bros. and adds in the look and feel of Super Mario Galaxy. The levels are timed like in New Super Mario Bros but ditches the side scrolling game play for something a little bit closer to Galaxy. I thought the timer would be a distraction since the levels are larger than the New Super Mario Bros levels but it turned into a nice bonus for some levels as an added degree of difficulty. The difficulty curve is just about perfect throughout the entire game as it starts off super easy and goes all the way up to rage at the end. To unlock the later levels you must go out of your way to collect the 3 Golden Coins hidden throughout the levels.
My main complaint about Super Mario 3D Land is that there is just not enough content here. This is a very short game. There are 16 Worlds with only 6 levels each. I finished the first 8 Worlds in just over 4 hours and had every single coin for these levels in just over 6 hours. After finishing World 8, you do unlock 8 more special stages but while these worlds have some new elements, for the most part they are just remixes of the first 8 Worlds. As I said before, the difficult ramps up significantly in the later levels with evil Mario chases and timers starting at 30 seconds to get you moving but everything still feels very familiar. Because of this familiarity, I was able to get through these last 8 worlds with all coins in just 6 hours despite the increased difficulty. Maybe I have been spoiled by other games but $40 for 12 hours of game play seems light these days. Luigi does make his obligatory appearance here but he doesn’t bring his purple coin levels with him from Galaxy. This would have been a nice touch that could have pushed the game over that 20 hour mark.
At the end of the day, Super Mario 3D Land delivers on everything that you would expect from a handheld Super Mario Bros. game. I just wish there were more here. With the significant advances in technology on handheld game systems with the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PlayStation Vita, gamers expectations are bound to rise. Dedicated handheld game systems are now competing with smartphone app markets for dollars and they days. Nintendo and Sony will need to make sure developers are producing titles that are more inline with their home console brothers in terms of game play if they intent to continue charging $40 per title. That being said, even though Super Mario 3D Land is a little light on content, its hard not to recommend such a good overall game. This title really does belong in every 3DS owners collection.
- Tanookis everywhere!
- Great implementation of 3D technology
- Solid mix of 2D and 3D platforming
- Light on content and length