Super Mario 3D World was one of my favourite games on the Wii U (F in the chat for our late console). I remember, when I first played it, thinking it was a Mario game that just nailed everything. From some truly excellent level designs, to the introduction of the catsuit power-up, Super Mario 3D World rightly earned its place in my heart as one of the best titles the franchise had to offer. Now, eight years on, does it stand the test of time?
The moment I load up the title screen, I'm greeted with familiar imagery but new music, hinting at the game's updated form. There's also the inclusion of Bowser's Fury, a brand new piece of content added into this re-release, to make it clear that we're not in 2013 anymore. However, the main body of this game is Super Mario 3D World, and it still feels just as magical as it did back then.
The game is split into "worlds", with each one consisting of several levels. A typical level has you going from A to B, dodging enemies and grabbing coins en route. There are also three green stars and a stamp to collect on each stage, as well as a gold flag up for grabs at the end, if you get your final jump right. Collecting green stars is how you progress the story of Super Mario 3D World, as you need a set amount to unlock boss levels.
There are also a variety of other level types. These include bonus stages, where you get coins or items, and small mini-boss stages, where you take on Chargin' Chucks or Fire Bros. Best of all, though, are the Captain Toad stages. These puzzle levels have you take on the role of Captain Toad himself, as you work your way around a 3D block level to gain five green stars. They're so good that Nintendo released a full game devoted to this concept on the Wii U, and even ported it to the Switch long before this game got there. Just sayin'.
The big feature of this new version of Super Mario 3D World is online co-op, letting you play with up to three friends - or randoms - and take on levels together. Those familiar with multiplayer Mario games will be used to the shenanigans of throwing teammates, or jumping on their heads, and Super Mario 3D World has plenty of opportunity for that. It may appear to be a co-op experience, but it can soon turn competitive and chaotic, so keep your wits about you.
Now we turn our attention to Bowser's Fury, which works a little differently to the core game. You play as Mario, accompanied by an AI-or-human-controlled Bowser Jr., and both are attempting to subdue an angry, enormous Bowser. Our unlikely duo have to collect Cat Shines and restore power to lighthouses, in order to counter Bowser's reign of tyranny. It's worth noting that Bowser Jr. has abilities that are required to proceed, so this feels like an ideal co-op game, but it's local only. I'm not sure why Nintendo made the choice to not offer online play for Bowser's Fury, but it feels like a missed opportunity.
Here, the game moves away from the overworld and level select style of Super Mario 3D World, instead having an open, shared space made up of different areas. As you play, Bowser will attack intermittently, so you'll need to take cover. This adds a sense of hide-and-seek to proceedings, which is a cute novelty, and fits the vibe Bowser's Fury is going for.
In short, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is superb. As 3D Mario games go, this title has it all. There's classic Mario level structures in Super Mario 3D World, and there's more open environments, like we had in Super Mario Odyssey, in Bowser's Fury. The multiplayer in the core game works well, aside from a few lag spikes when playing online, but the lack of online in Bowser's Fury is a weird design choice. Whether you're playing alone, or multiplayer, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury shows early on that it's worth the price of admission.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury releases February 12 for Nintendo Switch. Game tested with code supplied by publisher.
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