At the end of my Comic-Con adventure, I walked over to the Nintendo gaming lounge at the Marriott to play Nintendo’s newest games before they hit stores. I played quite a few games at the con, but nothing compared to the happiness I got from playing Super Mario 3D Land.
Before I go into details on the game, I need to give some backstory. I am colorblind, wear glasses, and have a stigmatism. I have been unable to see the 3DS’s 3D effects on demo systems at Target and Best Buy or playing on my friend’s. I have been thinking it was something to do with my eyes. I was wrong. In the dim lighting of the gaming lounge I could see the 3D perfectly. I’m assuming that it has something to do with the lighting, but I don’t know for sure. If you have a 3DS, can you let me know if there is a difference between playing in dark areas and light areas? Maybe it’s just the quality of the game. I don’t know. Anyway, the four 3DS games I played at the Nintendo lounge (Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Starfox 64 3D, and Kid Icarus briefly) all had 3D effects that worked flawlessly for me.
Now on to my impressions of Super Mario 3D Land.
There are 2 things you first notice after picking it up, how good the mushroom kingdom looks with all that depth and how slow Mario moves. First let me talk about Mario. As a design choice in this game, Mario moves much slower, strangely that’s ok. You can hold down a button to make him run faster (I ended up holding it down a lot), but you really don’t need to. It works surprisingly well.
Now, for the 3D effect. The world looks clear, crisp, and full of life. The 3D depth and effect looks amazing. I was truly mind blown just how everything looked from the depth into the world to the fireballs and ink that would fly at the screen. Once I even ducked to try to avoid ink hitting me in the face! One of the coolest experiences playing the game is when Mario goes down a warp pipe and you appear in a zoomed out room with a overhead-ish view. You are standing on a platform and there is a block with a large coin on it floating above you and in front of you. Now because you are viewing it from a top down view, that normal block floats a good inch and a half out of the screen in clear, crisp 3D. I was ecstatic. Then when Mario jumps on it! Just amazing.
I played all four levels available (cause that’s just how I am) and every level worked very well. I played through an outdoor grassy level, an underground dungeon-ish sort of level, a level based off of moving platforms, and what looked to be a mid-world airship boss with a mid-world boss character from Super Mario Bros. 3.
There were two items available in the demo: the Tanooki Suit and the Fire FlowerIn all 4 levels you have the option to use your Tanooki once a level. For reasons I can’t figure, the Tanooki suit doesn’t let you fly or turn into a statue like it did in Super Mario Bros. 3. It only let’s you flutter around and swing your tail. Now Nintendo has said that that it would be difficult to be able to fly in a 3D Mario game on a handheld. What no one is pointing out is what nonsense that is. Mario flew in Mario 64 DS just fine, and that was 5 handhelds ago! It makes no sense to me. Then why can’t you turn into a statue! There is no limitations with that! This whole Tanooki suit thing just makes me think that Nintendo is lazy. However, the game plays just fine without either of those abilities. The Tanooki suit is very fun to use and really helps complete levels in Super Mario 3D Land, it just makes me more annoyed than anything that I can’t fly.
Gameplay itself is fantastic. Mario has a full arsenal of moves including a new summersault roll move that came in handy a lot during my demo. The levels I played were well thought out, fun to play, and showcased the 3D effects well. So many great little moments. One of my favorites is when Mario is going to walk through these giant swinging spiked balls that are moving toward and away from you. Just brilliant.
The game is filled with shout outs to past Mario games, from the airship with the mid-world boss from Super Mario Bros. 3, to the way every level ends. Every level that I played ended in Mario jumping on a flagpole for the first time in a 3D mario platformer. I didn’t think this would work well, but surprisingly it worked great. They did it perfectly.
It’s hard to explain just how good Super Mario 3D Land is, and I could go on and on trying to. It is the perfect example of a Mario game. A great mix of quality, fun, and a great new gimic. I personally can’t wait to play more when the game comes out this November.