Much has been made of the 3DS’s apparent weak launch line-up. Despite some of the launch games being very good, critics cited the handheld’s lack of official Nintendo licensed games as a major failing point. Nintendo have of course been quick to try and rectify the situation: we’ve had a slew of Nintendo classics hit the ever increasing 3DS Virtual Console AND we’ve had some brilliant 3D remakes in the form of Star Fox 64 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.
However, 3DS owners, both present and potential, are eagerly anticipating the run up to Christmas, while at the same time fearing for their bank accounts, as Nintendo are set to unload a batch of BRAND NEW (yes, not remakes, brand new games) official Nintendo titles for the 3DS.
One of the most anticipated out of the bunch is Super Mario 3D Land, the 3DS’s first original Mario platforming adventure on the device. Thankfully everybody’s favorite Italian plumber’s next adventure was playable at GAMEfest 2011. Here’s our verdict on how its shaping up so far…
As much as they get bashed for neglecting their hardcore gamer fanbase, or making hardware fails (the Wii Vitality Sensor will never be forgotten, Mr Iwata!) Nintendo continue to wow us with Mario platforming games (Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and the 2 Super Mario Galaxy games weren’t bad were they?) and Super Mario 3D Land looks set to follow in that tradition.
From the moment you cast your eyes on the game you will be stunned by just how incredible Super Mario 3D Land looks. Graphically it is absolutely stunning. Colourful and vibrant, Super Mario 3D Land is EXACTLY how a Mario game should look, with the title well on its way to being the best looking games on the 3DS, and perhaps even more excitingly, one of the best looking handheld games EVER. Enough said.
In terms of core gameplay Super Mario 3D Land plays exactly as you’d expect: you play as Mario, jumping, sliding, swimming and flying your way through a variety of different colourful 3D levels, dodging and jumping on enemies along the way – your standard Mario platforming experience. On show were a number of different locales – pipes to shoot down, bosses to battle, bonus areas in which you gather as many power-ups and coins as possible, all backed by your typical quirky, memorable Mario soundtrack, shaping Super Mario 3D Land into yet another solid Mario platforming experience (or as I like to call it, getting the basics right).
However the true game changer is, of course, the added depth of 3D visuals, which has been met with some skepticism because depth in platform games is extremely contentious, it can make or break a platforming game and the way it controls, so it was important that the 3D in Super Mario 3D Land was done ‘right’.
Well reader, forget any skepticism you have because the 3D visuals in Super Mario 3D Land on show are nailed absolutely perfectly. The sense of depth seems to have been judged perfectly; there’s enough there to bring added life to what is a tried and tested formula, yet there’s not too much that creates difficulty in judging jumps, getting killed and making the whole experience frustrating. In other words, completely spot on.
What’s most impressive though is the way in which the eye popping, 3D visuals have been used in order to effect the game’s core gameplay to keep things fresh. The game’s use of depth really comes into its own here, adding a new “dimension” (quite literally) to the way a Mario platformer plays. Taking slight influence from spin-off series Paper Mario, players will be able to seamlessly explore the depth within Super Mario 3D Land, uncovering hidden areas and solving cleverly designed puzzles, bringing in an added freshness.
Overall, Super Mario 3D Land looks set to take the world by storm by offering another complete Mario experience. From what has been displayed, it looks amazing: the sound is brilliant and, through its use of 3D visuals, it adds a refreshing twist to the Mario set-up. This WILL BE an absolute must buy for 3DS owners, AND (dare we say it) one of the best handheld games of all time… Ok, yes, we said it.