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The Nintendo 3DS lineup has been looking bleak since its release, only recently picking up into stride with titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Orcarina Of Time, Pokemon Rumble Blast and Super Mario 3D Land. The later hopes to catch the eye of fans young and old, as well as show off the true potential of the 3DS as a platform that can surprise people when given the chance. Can Mario save the slow starting system and carry the platform into a new era, or does this old plumber lack the new tricks needed in the ever-evolving audience?
This Mario title, like many before it, starts out the same way as always; Bowser kidnaps the eternally helpless Princess Peach and so the effervescent Mario must set out to save her. This time however he progresses across a horizontal map, nothing cool like Mario Galaxy’s worlds, or even Mario 64s paintings, not even the top down worlds of Super Mario grace this title. Normally this would be somewhat disappointing, however the fact that it is on the 3DS it actually works rather well. Mario feels fresh with a few new suits such as the Rock Tanooki suit. Get used to seeing Tanooki Mario as it is the most common suit in the game, but don’t forget Fire Flower Mario, which is a classic as well as the Mushroom and Starman power-ups. There are some new power-ups too, Propeller Mario is an addition to any suit Mario already has on and allows Mario to fly high into the air. Finally Boomerang Mario has the ability to throw boomerangs that suspiciously resemble those of a certain set of Koopa Brothers. As usual the Poison Mushroom makes a return, still imbued with powers to shrink or take away Mario’s current power-up. Nicely Nintendo has brought back a lot of elements from Super Mario World games of yore, and mixes them with the Mario 64/Galaxy era of background and foreground interaction that has become such a staple for the series. Personally though this writer misses the good old ‘Super Mario’ where he had the red and yellow cape from Super Mario World.
Progressing across the eight worlds in search of the princess and fighting against bosses on pirate ships and castles from the older Mario titles is great fun, however levels do seem to be similar every now and gain, something that isn’t helped by Bowsers intrusions every few worlds where he takes you on for himself and then flees. It would be nice to see some more diversity in the bosses throughout the eight worlds, but it’s more than enough to keep a fan busy. In each world you’ll also come across Toad houses and mystery boxes to earn coins and extra star coins. Star coins are used to unlock the later level’s boss castles necessary to progress, of which there are three coins in every level. If you are starting to have a hard time with the game, and thus die five times in a level, an invincibility leaf appears at the start which allows for players to become unharmed by attacks like the Starman power-up would but with the Tanooki Suit ability as well. Upon completion of the level it’ll revert back to a normal Tanooki suit. Late in the game players will come across a Star World and the Rock Tanooki suit, which upon successful ground pound turns Mario into a rock slamming objects and enemies below him. Star World nicely consists of eight levels as well as an entirely new adventure and difficulty.
Super Mario 3D Land rewards mobile gamers with the street passes ability to exchange mystery boxes with other players garnering more rewards and power-ups. The content and collectibles packed into this one handheld title really show much potential of the future of the Nintendo 3DS. It is sad we had to wait almost a year for a quality AAA original title from Nintendo but it has happened and anyone who has a 3DS owes it to themselves to pick this game up. Mario fans surely will garner hours of play out of the title and casual players will find a lifetime of fun to be had.
Final Score: 4.5/5