Title: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
Nintendo has consistently re-released previously exclusive Wii U titles to the Nintendo Switch, making sure fans who missed out on that console have a place to play some truly underrated gems. While it may be expected for these titles to simply be ports with little to no changes, Super Mario 3D world includes some gameplay tweaks and a whole new game mode, Bowser’s Fury. It’s an addition that didn’t have to be included but one that makes an already terrific game even more enticing to play.
For those that might be unfamiliar with Super Mario 3D World, it feels much like a spiritual successor to the US version of Super Mario Bros 2. Like in that title, you can play as Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad, each having strengths and weaknesses consistent with the retro platformer.
It also takes several gameplay elements from Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS with levels presented in a traditional linear Mario fashion, with little secrets sprinkled throughout. It’s a predictable layout but one that I find super comforting and never get tired of when done right, which, thankfully, Super Mario 3D World almost always does.
Level designs are fantastic and a blast to navigate, especially with wacky power-ups like the catsuit, which allows you to temporarily climb walls and slash at enemies. Three green stars and character stamps can also be found in each level, giving completionists some replay value. Some of these can be a bit of a challenge and, for me, led to plenty of embarrassing, overly ambitious deaths, but that’s on par with other Mario games.
Super Mario 3D World can have up to 4 players and makes for some hilariously entertaining, as well as chaotic co-op moments. Playing this way is a vastly different experience and trial altogether. You are encouraged to gain the most points, turning more cooperative moments into straight-up competition based on the players. Luckily consequences for pitfalls and deaths are minor as the player that dies can quickly rejoin the group. On the flip side, you all share lives, and they can quickly diminish if you have a player too comfortable with taking risks. There are possible arguments that can be made against multiplayer versus single player, but when it’s a mode that’s as fun and crazy as it is, they seem pretty irrelevant.
Subtle changes have been included to help streamline the process. Walking speeds on maps and pipe travel are sped up. Obstacles like Koopa shells and other hazards or weapons move at a much quicker pace, which adds to the challenge and improves the experience. Graphics are also sharper and less pixelated than its Wii U counterpart. Also, the few touch screen activated sections that are here are just as easy if not easier to perform in Switch’s handheld mode. Some of the more gimmicky sections are entirely removed.
One issue still present in multiplayer and single-player mode is the occasionally awkward camera angle. During single-player, you have the option to move your camera at a few various set angles in an attempt to aid your gameplay. However, oftentimes your camera will just refuse to move past a certain point. Maybe these limitations are set in place because of 3D obstacles possibly obscuring your view, but the lack of camera movement at times can be a bit jarring. In multiplayer you more or less have a set camera, and at times depending on your paths your characters may go completely off the screen. It does sort of add to the lunacy of the mode and may even be utilized against you by a malicious friend but your mileage may vary.
Perhaps Super Mario 3D World’s most notable feature is the additional game Bowser’s Fury. You are thrown into a large map where you must aid Boswer Jr on his quest to save his possessed father. This took me by surprise as its gameplay is actually closer to Mario Oddessy. The world map is open, and you have more control of your overall camera angles. Several missions are set up for you to complete to acquire cat tokens. When you collect enough tokens, you are taken to a huge Kaiju-like battle with the possessed Bowser. These battles are bizarre and even accompanied by comically epic music but are fairly fun.
Periodically throughout your time on the map, Bowser will rain down fireballs and make life more difficult for you. On the other hand, some missions can only be achieved during these moments. This happens about once every ten to fifteen minutes and sometimes can be annoying, but it keeps things interesting.
To make life a bit easier, Bowser Jr. acts as your companion, attacking enemies for you. His help is totally optional, and the amount of his aid can be determined by the player at any time. Bowser Jr. Also serves as a multiplayer option. It’s a very different experience from Super Mario 3D World’s 4 player option, but it’s still nice that some multiplayer option is offered here.
While Bowser’s Fury plays great docked, there is a significant frame rate drop in handheld mode. This didn’t affect my personal experience, but I know how important it can be for many gamers.
Overall, Bowser’s Fury will probably take a little over three hours to finish and is a super fun experience, but it should be seen as that. If you’re thinking of picking up Super Mario 3D World simply for Bowser’s Fury, it may not live up to your expectations as a complete stand-alone game. Still, as a package deal, it’s an incredible inclusion, and one that I hope creates a trend with future Nintendo re-releases.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is a wholly satisfying gameplay experience that offers some of the series’s best multiplayer mayhem. The tweaks might seem minor, but they result in much better execution of an already amazing game. Also, the inclusion of Bowser’s Fury just makes this re-release that much sweeter. You can tell real effort went into this updated version, and it’s one adventure that I appreciated and enjoyed from beginning to end.
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