Reviewed on: Nintendo 3DS
Super Mario 3D Land is commonly regarded as one of if not the best game available on the 3DS, and with a library as strong as the 3DS', that is saying a lot. As Nintendo's mascot Mario is often relied on to flaunt the system's best attributes. His games arguably lead the NES, N64 and Wii and played a huge role in all of the other's, essentially, there is a lot of pressure for a Mario game to perform. Fortunately 3D Land performs superbly, with all of the confidence you would expect from such a refined series.
The game manages to do what perhaps Nintendo games do best, appeal to casual gamers and hardcore gamers. The game's first 8 worlds are well designed but relatively easy, for the casual gamer they will form the bulk of the game's enjoyment factor but for the hardcore gamer they will serve as a warmup. After the first 8 worlds you unlock 8 special worlds and these are really the highlight of the game. Each of the levels in these special worlds makes you stop and marvel at how brilliantly and creatively designed they are. They are punishingly hard (for my skill level at least) but are incredibly fun. You can also play through them as Luigi if the mood takes you. The levels are made all the more fun by the fantastic power ups ranging from Tanooki Tails (my favourite) to the traditional Fire Flower. For these 8 special levels an in depth knowledge of where to acquire each power up is required or else the challenge gets upped astronomically. Also these special worlds more or less demand that you explore them as you need stars to unlock the next world. Not that exploring them is a chore when they are this well designed. From rotating blocks to disappearing floors to canons to fire yourself out of these levels have every conceivable idea thrown into them and it just proves at every turn that Nintendo can still make their old franchises feel fresh.
Apart from in the story department.
As always peach is kidnapped and Mario must go and- I'm not even going to finish, you know the story.
Many people would use this as a complaint and say "Nintendo just make teh kidz games for da NOOBZ who want the same game EVERY time so go get a real game like CoD!" (I like CoD by the way). Of course haters are going to hate but the bottom line is does anyone really play Mario for the story? Do you expect a deep, riveting and emotional plot filled with romance, betrayal and the heart warming story of one plumber's quest for redemption and love in a cruel yet colourful world that is controlled by a maniacal psychopathic beast hell bent on kidnapping young women? No one cares about Mario's story! People play Mario for the incredible and inventive level design and fun gameplay.
And by God this has some fun gameplay. It also makes excellent use of the 3D! In a non gimmicky way! You see some levels are designed to be played with 3D because they require a perspective that can only be acquired with 3D. It is possible to play them without it but it is far more enjoyable to turn up the 3D and bask in the genius that is this game.
Whether in 3D or 2D this game looks amazing. Mario and the crew are all superbly detailed and animated, the levels are well detailed, colourful, varied yet familiar and very well designed. It has since been topped in the graphics department but even now Mario 3D Land is one of the best looking games on the 3DS. The sound is also incredible with a mix of new and old stuff that is all quintessential Mario.
Whether a 2 year old or a 60 year old there is a lot of joy to be had with this game. It's charming look, familiar feel and stellar design make it one of the best games to play on Nintendo's flagship handheld and if you own a 3DS then you have to own this game.