Home
Twitter
RSS
Newsletter
Jarrod Mawson
28 Nov, 2011

Super Mario 3D Land Review

3DS Review | Dressing up as your favourite furry animal never felt so right.
Where Nintendo would be without their flagship franchise, the Super Mario Bros. series, we have no idea. Perhaps they wouldn't 'be' at all. So much more than a stepping stone to global success, Nintendo has, for most part, managed to keep the playful plumber as inventive and relevant to today's world of gaming as he was over two decades ago in his Donkey Kong debut. With a some-million strong army of loyal fans, and more spin-offs than you can shake a fire flower at, Super Mario Bros. goes with the Nintendo territory, and if there's any guarantee one can give it's that if you buy a Nintendo platform, you will get a Super Mario Bros. game eventually.

For owners of the Nintendo 3DS, that time is now. Super Mario 3D Land jumps to the system after eight months of a sporadic software releases and underwhelming titles, arriving at a time more important than ever on a platform with much left to prove. With the big question of 3D relevancy to gaming and worries of the platform lacking that truly system defining title still lingering, it really shouldn't be surprising to see Nintendo's premier franchise set it's sight squarely on quelling these concerns, let alone doing so a degree of polish, creativity and value that proudly matches the series' consistent high standard.

Mario: The World Is Yours

Mario: The World Is Yours
Close
Taking a few cues from traditional 2D Super Mario Bros. (mostly thematically from Super Mario Bros. 3), with a dash of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy for good measure, Super Mario 3D Land conjures the best of all worlds and blends the pieces together to create something else entirely. Absent of gravity defying shenanigans and other gimmicks, here Mario and co leap and bound between platforms as the game distills and focuses on the most basic running and jumping platforming fundamentals and trademark tight controls that have served as a backbone to the series for all these years.

The open, free form design of Super Mario 64 is forgone in favour of compartmentalised stages geared towards quick bursts of play, even more so than Super Mario Galaxy 2, with short and snappy designs aimed to fill in time on an early work commute or while waiting for your call to the dentist chair. Levels are heavily grounded, composed mostly of linear pathways and floating platforms that hybridise structured 3D platforming environments and traditional side scrolling for what can best be described as '2.5 Super Mario Bros.'.

Usually perceived through an isometric camera angle that goes hand-in-hand with the stereoscopic 3D, from the very first stage it is clearly evident that Super Mario 3D Land was built to encompass the visual advantages of stereoscopic imagery, either as a cheeky visual gimmick to show off an impressive vista or optical illusion, or as a surprisingly functional gameplay aid to help perceive distance between two platforms for the most accurate jump. We don't doubt that Super Mario 3D Land would be quite playable in 2D, but there's no denying how thoughtfully Nintendo has designed stages and perspective to capitalise on the system's unique selling point.

Forever haunted by the ghosts of the dead.

Forever haunted by the ghosts of the dead.
Close
The overflowing well of creativity that is the Super Mario Galaxy titles unquestionably acts as a significant influence behind the level gimmicks prevalent throughout Super Mario 3D Land, sometimes directly replicating the most memorable ideas from the former games, such as musically and jump timed platform switches, though on a smaller scale. Influences from Super Mario Bros. 3 are perhaps most obvious, successfully integrating numerous classic items and set pieces into a 3D game environment, while the iconic Tanooki Suit makes a welcome return, not just on Mario himself, but anything and everything Nintendo felt they could stick a tail on to make it spin and float. To prevent cheapened retreading of old ground, Super Mario 3D Land makes sure to introduce it's own host of new enemies, items and tricks, doing an admirable job of coupling these twists on familiar features for every single stage of the basic eight worlds.

The push for a consistent flow of inventive gameplay holds strong for most part, though at a few unfortunate points slips up and exposes some of the more unpolished corners of the game. As enjoyable as the Tanooki Suit is, as well as the new introduced Boomerang suit, there's no denying that the former is grossly overpowered, far more versatile and useful for all stages than any other item. And though the stages themselves are inventive, Super Mario 3D Land drops the ball on boss fights, recycling the same two Kooper bosses (Bowser excluded) throughout, sorely lacking the varied bosses found in the Super Mario Galaxy duo. Issues like these coupled with an almost criminally easy eight worlds that can be completed in the blink of an eye run the risk of leaving players asking "Is that it?" as the credits first roll.

But deceptive presentation soon surprises as post game content literally doubles the game's offerings and at least triples the difficulty with additional challenges and stages that too introduce their own new mechanics and ideas, keeping the experience fresh and inventive until absolutely everything has been conquered. Mastering every stage on offer, which includes finding the three star medals hidden in each, is no small task, and when all is said and done it's hard not to step back and admire one of the most content rich games available on any portable Nintendo system.

Not a furry, no sir.

Not a furry, no sir.
Close
Though it channels multiple Super Mario Bros. titles in gameplay, the aesthetics most accurately resemble the Super Mario Galaxy games, capturing the same impressively clean visual fidelity, while calling upon the system's graphics processor for more advanced shader effects to counter more simplified geometry. Many of the visual effects truly come into their own when playing in 3D, as flower petals gently floating atop the breeze pop out of the screen, and layered downfall of snowflakes give a tremendous sense of depth to the imagery, all at a rock solid thirty frames per second and comfortable 3D that rarely, if ever, stresses the eyes. Moments like running past the rain drenched stone walls of Bowser's castle, glistening in the illumination of nearby torches, are quite a sight to behold and littered throughout the entire game, leaving little room to doubt that Super Mario 3D Land is nothing less than the best looking game on the system.

Expecting an orchestrated score in line with Super Mario Galaxy would probably be asking too much, but nevertheless audio production here follows a little too closely to the New Super Mario Bros. musical formula, made up of your typical Super Mario Bros. beeps and boops and remixed backing tracks that, while inoffensive to the ears, simply lack the punch of original, catchy compositions that keep you humming well after the game has finished. Thankfully the audio samples themselves, for both the music and sound effects, is of exceptional quality, leaps and bounds over the Nintendo DS, making Super Mario 3D Land the crispest sounding portable Super Mario Bros. title ever released.

Keeping you at full mast.

Keeping you at full mast.
Close
There's always room for every game to grow and improve, but the best are the ones you don't feel need to, and Super Mario 3D Land sprints much closer to the latter than the former. A steeper difficulty climb would have been welcome, especially for platforming veterans, but ease of play cannot detract from the wealth of creative level design and inventive mechanics that keep the game stimulating and joyful from start to finish. The amount of love, care and polish poured into Super Mario 3D Land acts as yet another note on the pile of mounting evidence that suggests Nintendo's EAD Tokyo Mario team is in their absolute prime.

As a stand alone video game, Super Mario 3D Land is yet another top tier entry in the Super Mario Bros. franchise. But as a Nintendo 3DS game, it single handily validates the system as a whole, both as an impressive showcase for stereoscopic visuals and, most importantly, as a gaming machine capable of delivering the goods. It is the title Nintendo needed at the system's launch, but as they always say, it's better late than not at all, and for what the plumber lacks in timeliness he makes up for droves in wonderful gameplay. Super Mario 3D Land is a must-have for all Nintendo 3DS owners.
The Score
Inventive, beautiful and dangerously addictive, Super Mario 3D Land is the 3DS defining game, capitalising on the system's strengths and value of portability, while recalling the best qualities of both 2D and 3D iterations of the franchise. Not to be missed. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Super Mario 3D Land Content

Super Mario 3D Land commercials
21 Oct, 2011 Plenty of new footage, and the usual Japan weirdness.
Super Mario 3D Land Preview
10 Oct, 2011 Dare you enter the third dimension?
Two new Super Mario 3D Land trailers
07 Oct, 2011 Some pocket sized fun.
83 Comments
2 years ago
Nice review. I love this game very much.
2 years ago
Quote
if there's any guarantee one can give it's that if you buy a Nintendo platform, you will get a Super Mario Bros. game eventually.
N64, Gamecube, Gameboy classic, advanced, DS.

Only mario related game I ever owned was Mario is Missing edutainment for the PC.
2 years ago
Article, first line wrote
Where Nintendo would be without they're flagship franchise, the Super Mario Bros.
Sorry, but this has been annoying me. It should be "their".

Anyway, nice review. it looks like I will have to get this if I decide to pick up a 3DS, as well as Mario Kart. Sure, they're not original games, but Nintendo's strength is polish, not originality (in terms of software).
2 years ago
Benza wrote
Only mario related game I ever owned was Mario is Missing edutainment for the PC.
In my opinion, any gamer who hasn't played all the best games starring MARIO IS MISSING a lot of good times. icon_wink.gif
2 years ago
I've played them, I just thought they were shit and never wanted to buy em.
2 years ago
Benza wrote
I've played them, I just thought they were **** and never wanted to buy em.
Next time somebody tries to tell me an opinion cannot possibly be wrong, I am going to show them this post.
2 years ago
Looking forward to buying this in a few weeks. Sounds fantastic as always. I wonder when we all will grow bored of Mario? I dont think future generations will lap it up like those of us who started on the NES.
2 years ago
If my younger brothers and their friends are anything to go by, it's all about CoD/BF and Assassin's Creed, with dollops of Minecraft and League of Legends nowadays. I've tried making them play games like Dark Souls, Skyward Sword and Super Mario 3D Land, but they play for a total of 2 mins before declaring that they're bored.

I guess the next generation is generally only interested in things that provide multiplayer or deliver a cinematic experience.
2 years ago
Super Mario 3D Land is my game of the year so far.

Yep, Skyrim is great, and I'll find out about Skyward Sword soon enough, but the polish of SM3DL just blows me away and it's FUN too!
2 years ago
WarAdeptI have the same problem with my cousins, unless its popular and the 'latest thing' they think its rubbish and won't play it out. Their loss on super mario land 3d. New generation is forever hooked on $10 dollar maps.
2 years ago
Man I don't get the whole "These young gamers don't like the same games as I do, they're missing out!" mentality.

It's stupid and ridiculously arrogant on your part. I mean I grew up playing games on MS Dos like commander keen, Jill of the Jungle etc and I'd still rather play Assassins Creed then Mario.

The 'kids these days' aren't missing out on anything. Because they're playing the games that they enjoy. That isn't a bad thing.

I mean fuck trying to convince your younger brother to play a game like Dark Souls and complaining that they don't like it? Really? Did you ever think that maybe a game famous for being ridiculously hard and unforgiving isn't for everyone?
2 years ago
I had a quick go of it at JB hifi yesterday. I still won't buy the system - mainly because I can't afford it. But I eally enjoyed this and the 3d works really well. I also preferred this to the Mario 64 and galaxy because the scale of the levels was smaller than Mario 64(which I felt was large and sparse) but less confusing/convoluted than Mario Galaxy. Each platform Mario was on was like a mini puzzle or activity.
2 years ago
I think the whole "young generation missing out" argument isn't so much about forcing them to play old style / hardcore games, but rather how some people don't give any other game a chance if it isn't COD or whatever. It happens all the time in any form of media, and it usually takes maturity to overcome.
2 years ago
Hopefuly my mum gets this as I asked for it for a present and sis is going to get me Mario Kart 7.



DancesInUnderwear wrote
Benza wrote
I've played them, I just thought they were **** and never wanted to buy em.
Next time somebody tries to tell me an opinion cannot possibly be wrong, I am going to show them this post.
That actually made me lol. Not like all those other times where I "lol"but in fact all I did was smile icon_lol.gif


Benza wrote
I've played them, I just thought they were **** and never wanted to buy em.
After I wash your mouth out with soap go stand in the corner and think about what you just said icon_razz.gif
2 years ago
rankodour wrote
I think the whole "young generation missing out" argument isn't so much about forcing them to play old style / hardcore games, but rather how some people don't give any other game a chance if it isn't COD or whatever. It happens all the time in any form of media, and it usually takes maturity to overcome.
There is being blatantly retarded with fanboyism (like console or PC nutters refusing to play games on specific platforms regardless of quality), then there's just lack of interest really.

I don't think you need to be mature to suddenly show interest in titles such as Mario, Dark Souls etc. It really comes down to what the person wants and if CoD really is what they want (as sad as it may seem to a hardcore gamer), then as long as they're happy really.

I can spend years trying to convince someone that Quake is a far more rewarding game than CoD will ever be, but if they dislike it then they dislike it.
2 years ago
rankodour wrote
I think the whole "young generation missing out" argument isn't so much about forcing them to play old style / hardcore games, but rather how some people don't give any other game a chance if it isn't COD or whatever. It happens all the time in any form of media, and it usually takes maturity to overcome.
I've gotta ask, how many games do you completely dismiss right off the bat without playing or reading reviews for them?
I have never played Disgea, I will never play Disgea, I don't like isometric turn based strategy games. They bore me. This isn't a lack of maturity, this isn't 'not giving something a chance' it's just my personal taste. Just like even if that Jack and Jill movie had 100% on rotten tomatoes I still wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole cause I don't want to see a fucking Adam Sandler movie.

If someone doesn't enjoy 3D performers, why the fuck would you want them to play Mario? Assuming that everyone will like a game that you like, just cause you think it's awesome is completely arrogant. Your taste is not a concrete measure of quality.
2 years ago
Benza, i think people are talking about a situation in which they know the person quite well and believe they would honestly love the game if given a chance but can't pry MW3/MW2/HALO/ whatever is being hugely advertised at the time, from the console. Calm down, your argument while valid is not quite what people are posting about here. You may sit down with your best friend or partner because they suggested jack and jill. Of course I guess there a chance your someone who might not do something because you don't want to even though its with someone you connect with. But most people would accept this type of social interaction.
2 years ago
Is is possible to grow out of the Mario series? Because I think that's what happened to me after Mario Galaxy. I bought Mario Galaxy 2, but never finished it (sorry Jarrod and DIU), and I find myself with no interest in Super Mario 3D Land.

That only applies to the main series though, I still plan to buy Mario Kart 7.
2 years ago
Quote
You may sit down with your best friend or partner because they suggested jack and jill.
No the thing is my girlfriend or best friend wouldn't suggest that to me because they know me well enough to know my disdain for anything Adam Sandler (With obvious exceptions made for Bulletproof, Billy Maddison, Happy Gillmore, Airheads and Punch Drunk Love)

Just like I'm not going to suggest that me and the missus go see Step up 3: The step uppening, because I know she doesn't share my love for crappy dance movies.

People have specific tastes of things they like. If you're friend loves Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3, Halo, Battlefield 3, etc etc. What part of that taste indicates that he's gonna wanna play Mario? What single shred of similarity does Mario have to those games?

If you want to introduce your cousin, little brother etc to other games other then the standard fare that they play, why in gods name are you going to try something the polar opposite of what they play and enjoy? If the argument had been "Oh my little brother only plays Modern Warfare and Halo, he wont even try Bulletstorm or Serious Sam" then you might have an argument.

What's basically happening is your little brother loves Die Hard, and you see "Oh he watches movies, he should love How to Tame your Dragon since that's a movie!" that doesn't work. They may both be equally good (Although Die Hard 1 is better obviously) but they're not even remotely similar other then the medium.

I seriously can't understand the logic here, I mean you don't see someone playing and enjoying Heavy Rain and go "Oh shit, I bet they'd love Street Fighter 4" because that line of thinking is fucking retarded so why does it apply to Mario games?
2 years ago
Finally got my copy and started playing. I am in love. Nintendo, why did you leave me with a useless 3DS up until now? WHY? Now I never want to be away from it or this game ever again.

There may be a small amount of hyperbole in there, but the fact remains that this game (despite the lame title) is pure joy smooshed into a cart.
2 years ago
Maybe it's the kind of game that looks great in motion, cause those screenshots don't look that impressive...
2 years ago
It looks like SMG in motion - only tinier, tailier, and smattered with oldschool Mario love.

There's a little bit of jaggy action, but I find that I'm too busy enjoying the game to pay it much notice.
2 years ago
The graphics are definitely great, probably the best on the console, I've found you can't judge 3DS games by pictures online. And yeah, there is a fair bit of jaggies, but if you're noticing them while playing, you're doing something wrong!
2 years ago
I only bought this cause I really enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. on the DS, and I figured this would the next iteration in the franchise.

I wouldn't say I'm waiting for a Mario game to trip up so I can just drop that franchise, but if Nintendo keeps making Mario fun, I'll keep buying and playing it.
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/53Y

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  24/11/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Nintendo
Genre:
  Platforming
Year Made:
  2011

Read more...
Related Media
 
Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.