Super Mario 3D Land is the first Mario 3DS game for the 3DS handheld system. It is a brand new adventure for Mario as he yet again sets out to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. This is the same classic Mario gameplay, but is now integrated into a 3D world. The game features the return of the beloved Super Leaf item that was last seen in Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES. As one of the two Mario games released this year (the other being Mario Kart 7), Super Mario 3D Land offers a lot to gamers of all ages.
Release Date: 11/03/11 (JP); 11/13/11 (NA); 11/18/11 (EU); 11/24/11 (AU)
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
ESRB Rating: E
One day, a strong wind blew all the leaves from a tree in Princess Peach's castle. The leaves turned out to be actually Super Leaves, and they gave everyone they came in contact with the legendary tanooki tail. When Mario goes to inspect the tree, he finds a letter depicting Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach. So for the billionth time, Mario sets off to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser.
As mentioned before, this is classic Mario-style gameplay that is complete with world maps and stages with a flagpole at the end. Players will use the directional circle pad to move Mario in all directions. To make Mario jump, players can use either the B or A button. Y and X have been designated as the action buttons so players will use those to throw fireballs, dash, and more. Since Mario cannot really use the circle pad to crouch, the L and R buttons have been assigned that feature. The directional button is used to switch the 3D view of the game from normal view and extended depth.
Several of Mario's more modern techniques return in this game. Mario can perform a ground pound if the L (R) button is pressed in the air. He can roll on the ground when both the L (R) and Y (X) buttons are pressed. Other moves include wall jumping, the crouch jump, and the side somersault.
Unlike the current line-up of 3DS games, playing Super Mario 3D Land with the 3D slider all the way up is a huge advantage and affects gameplay greatly. With the 3D effects on, players can easily distinguish where to jump and land with ease. Without the effects, players will have a more difficult time judging where to start a jump as well as landing on ledges and platforms.
The classic items of the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Starman all return in this game, and they all function the same way since the original Super Mario Bros.. The Propeller Block returns allowing Mario to soar into the sky. The Boomerang Flower garbs Mario in a Boomerang brother outfit which grants him the ability to throw boomerangs. A single spare item can be carried and can be switched for by tapping the touch screen. Now, the true MVP item of Super Mario 3D Land is the Super Leaf. With it, Mario wears the iconic tanooki suit and is able to whack enemies and objects with his tail. He cannot fly in this version, but people can have Mario "flutter" in the air. This flutter is a life saver in many stages as it slows down Mario's descent when he is falling from the air.
The stages in this Mario game varies in design and flavor. There are underwater stages, underground stages, ghost houses, sky stages, and more. There is even a stage dedicated to The Legend of Zelda. All of them will test a player's ability, particularly, jumping abilities. One false move, and it is game over. This is why it is critical to play the game with the 3D effects on as well as always carrying a spare Super Leaf.
There are Star Coins for people to collect in every stage. The main purpose to collect them is that certain stages are unlocked and are not available unless Mario has a certain amount of Star Coins collected. People will have to backtrack and replay finished stages just to move on. Luckily, a majority of the Star Coins can easily be obtained with only a few that need tricky acrobatic skills.
Aside from the action stages, there are Toad Houses and Mystery Boxes. Players can enter them for various items from Toad and accomplishing simple tasks respectively. Once entered, these areas will not be open again. The only way to refresh these areas is through the game's StreetPass feature. For people who are not fortunate enough to use this feature to its fullest, the game does not require them to complete the game.
A "Super Guide" mechanics is in the game. If Mario loses a life five times in the same unfinished stage, a special Invincibility Leaf will be given. This will give Mario a white tanooki suit that combines the powers of both a Super Leaf and the Super Star. Lose ten times to a stage, and a P-Wing will be given which will transport Mario to the end of the course.
The music and graphics in the game are superb. They are retain the same classic Mario feel with a modern twist. Mario will always cast a shadow when jumping which key to help where he will land. The music always matches the current stage such as spooky music in ghost houses or the classic underground theme in underground stages.
Just like other recently released Nintendo titles, there is a whole new world available after completing the game. This new world is basically the same stages but with quite a few twists. There are now purple Poison Mushrooms that will follow Mario around. The Statue Leaf makes an appearance which not only grants Mario the same power as the Super Leaf but also allows him to transform into a statue. In certain stages, there are Cosmic clones that will follow Mario around. There are stages with a time limit of 30 seconds so players will have to collect Plus Clocks to gain more time and make it to the end. Finally, if certain requirements are met, players will be able to play as Luigi (he plays a bit differently than Mario).
Overall, Super Mario 3D Land is Nintendo's finest accomplishment for the 3DS handheld. Not only is it a game that enhances the same gameplay formula, it also utilizes the the 3DS's features whether it be the 3D effects, wireless StreetPass, or the gyroscope controls. The levels are short so the game is quick to pick up and play on the go. There is a lot of content in the game ranging from secret warp pipes to references to other Mario games.
Super Mario 3D Land receives a 9 out of 10.