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Brief Initial Thoughts After Finishing Super Mario 3D World

I finished Super Mario 3D World the other day, and while it was quite fun, it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.
The isometrically locked perspective seemed kind of gimmicky to me. I guess one could say that it is the truest expression of translating the original two dimensional Mario experience to the three dimensional video game experience we are now accustomed to, but I feel it lacks something compared to its truly 3D brethren (Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 21).

What it lacks is exploration. There is no real discovery to be had in Super Mario 3D World. Sure, there is the occasional need to revisit a level to try to find that annoying green star that wasn’t easily spotted on the first play through, but the levels are so linear and confined that moments of true exploration are rare. I found it easy to spot the signs of hidden secrets. Most have to do with “oh, this doesn’t look like all the other things” type of design, which is quite unoriginal and boring.

From a level design standpoint, they relied far too heavily on the new cat power up. While cute and an interesting new ability, it’s unique wall-climbing ability makes it often the only way to reach certain items. Forcing a player to use a certain item or ability to access a certain area is not a bad thing in and of itself, but when it’s done so often throughout a game, the experience becomes monotonous. Far too many times, I found myself thinking, “Oh, that star is up on a high platform that I can’t get to. I guess I’ll have to come back here as a cat later on…” This is just lazy on Nintendo’s part, and I expect a lot more of them.

All that said, Super Mario 3D World was an engaging and wonderful experience - as is to be expected from any Mario game. While Nintendo may lack marketing prowess or a clear understanding of online gaming (what this generation’s gamers expect from a console), one thing they still retain is their unmistakable style. No one can make a game like Nintendo can2, and I don’t expect that to change for a long time.


  1. 1.Yes, I am intentionally not including Super Mario Sunshine in this list as it was a terrible excuse for a 3D Mario game.
  2. 2.Except maybe Rare during it’s Nintendo-only days, but let’s not reopen old wounds here. It’s far too painful.

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