Super Mario 3D Land Review

Super Mario 3D Land
Remember when games used to be so much fun? You're sure to get that feeling with Super Mario 3D Land, the first and 3DS-exclusive Mario game.

The game introduces a world and level format. There is a total of 8 worlds and 8 levels for each world. Each world presents a unique set of challenge, not a single one felt repetitive. While most levels are easy, you'll always finish each level with a sense of accomplishment. The end goal is basically the same with most Mario games which is to reach a flag pole and conquer all of Bowser's territory.

There's a course selection map which closely resembles that of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, but also unique in some respect. Each level in the course screen displays a miniature of how a level would look like when played.

The levels are set in progressive format, which means that you have to finish one in order to get to another. There are some levels that can't be entered unless you've gathered enough Star Medals.

Super Mario 3D Land features familiar power-ups such as the flower power-up which allows Mario to shoot fire balls. There's also the Leaf power up which comes in several forms (will talk about this later) and a boomerang power-up which allows Mario to transform into a Blue shelled turtle and hurl a boomerang. While power-ups help you finish a level, you can certainly do without.

The leaf power-up comes in several variations. There's the brown-colored leaf which turns Mario into a tanooki, a gray one which has the same effect but has the extra attribute of turning into stone, and an invincibility leaf which makes Mario invincible. Unlike Super Mario 3 however, the Tanooki suit does not make Mario fly. With the Tanooki suit, you can float momentarily in the air and spin your tail to attack enemies.

Coins remain as a fundamental element of the game to earn extra life (1-UP). You'll need 100 coins to earn a bonus. There are items that help you survive on a level as well, there's the traditional super star power-up which momentarily makes Mario invincible, and clock items to increase the remaining time.

There are some extra gimmicks in the game such as music blocks, folding tiles, swaying platforms, warp boxes, and many others that sets this game apart from any Mario games you've ever played.

Super Mario 3D Land is among the most graphically impressive Mario games we've seen. While it only runs at 30FPS, the game looks detailed and colorful that makes you ignore the frame rate.

Koopa Troopa in Super Mario 3D LandLarge Boo in Super Mario 3D LandUnderwater level in Super Mario 3D LandNES reference in Super Mario 3D LandLarge Boo in Super Mario 3D LandTanooki Mario in Super Mario 3D Land

There are two 3D view modes available in the game which is the normal view which you can activate by pressing up on the DPad, and an extended-depth view which you can activate by pressing down. The extended-depth view basically makes it easier to feel the 3D depth of the game. In addition to the two 3D modes available, it's also possible to adjust the 3D depth through the slider which allows you to set the 3D to your level of preference.

On certain occasions, such as moving from the nearest part of the Horizon to a vanishing view, the camera would sometimes dynamically change. This alters the overall experience of the game, making it feel more dynamic. In fact Mario is pretty dynamic himself, if you observe closely you'll notice that he looks up to blocks that you happen to pass by.

The music feels happy and catchy. There's a mix of new and old music such as from the first Super Mario Bros. game. The music always match the intensity of the level, so if you happen be on an adrenaline-rushing level, you'll mostly hear the Athletic music theme from Super Mario Bros. 3. During boss levels, the music changes to something a little more intimidating.

The controls should feel familiar to old fans and easy for people new to the game (if there's such thing). You'll be using the circle pad to move Mario around, the Y button to make him run, the B button to make him jump, and the R trigger to make Mario crouch. These make the basic controls for Super Mario 3D Land, but there are a couple of more sophisticated things such as making a long jump and crouch jump which are present in other Mario installments such as Super Mario Galaxy.

Controlling Mario feels very natural with things like side somersault and wall jump. However, given the 3D-depth of the game, it sometimes become hard to perceive the depth of objects. For example, it's very easy to miss hitting a brick.

The game makes an effective use of the touchscreen controls. During the start of the game, it's used to select from three different save slots. You can use the touchscreen to change levels or choose worlds in the course selection screen. During the actual game, you can easily tap the bottom screen for any extra power-up you've stored.

Super Mario 3D Land makes use of StreetPass feature to share bonuses or compete with rivals. There are two things that could happen when you enable StreetPass and bump on someone playing the same game. First, you'll be exchanging mystery boxes that you last played from the last save file you played. Second, if you happen to get a Mii from the other 3DS owner then you'll get a gift at a toad house.

You can always go back to previous levels you've been in, just in case you want to do better with your best time. You can also go back to find any star medals you've missed. If you happen to have multiple saves with different people playing them, they'll show as your rival and their best time is displayed on the course selection map.

The Verdict

The best thing we like about this game is that it doesn't even matter what kind of gamer you are. If you have a 3DS, Super Mario 3D Land is something that should be in your game library. It's fun, exciting, engaging, impressive. It's complete in very aspect and you certainly won't be wasting precious money with it. Thank you Nintendo for making such a wonderful game.

Rating for Super Mario 3D Land
Fun Factor:
Game Info:Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 11/13/2011
Price: $39.99 (Buy It)
Rating: E (Everyone)
No. of players: 1
The Good
  • Fun Gameplay
  • High replay value
  • Good 3D effect
  • Music from older Mario games
  • Tanooki Suit is very helpful
The Bad
  • Only 30FPS
  • A little too easy
  • Very few power-ups
  • No Yoshi

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