Review: “Super Mario 3D World’s” Fun-Loving and Blissful Simplicity

This 3D platformer includes both simply solid gameplay and ample ambition but occasionally exaggerates these elements to an unsavory degree

In the complex boundaries of life and an increasingly overwhelming world, “Super Mario 3D World+Bowser’s Fury,” released Feb. 12 on Nintendo Switch systems, imbues sleek 2D platforming while breaking exciting bounds in the new Bowser’s Fury mode. 

3D World centers around four playable characters traveling throughout the Sprixie Kingdom, each set with appreciated unique abilities, that of Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad. This is in an effort to save the Sprixie Princesses from the evil King Bowser. 

While the plot leaves little room for depth and overarching interest, the immediate thrust into the colorful world of tightly crafted levels makes up for this blemish. 

Each level in the game is structured in a linear manner, which, while not mind blowing, offers unique environmental designs and ideas for the over 100 levels presented. The game overflows with power ups and mechanics which are cleverly utilized across multiple levels in a variety of ways, ultimately fleshing them out to their fullest extent.

Such is the case with the double cherries, which creates up to four copies of the character in order to solve puzzles and access collectables. This idea is then reused in new light, as a means for clearing out a boss arena. 

Although the over simplistic aspect of the levels simply existing as grass, desert or water areas gets a little monotonous as the game continues, it also understands its identity. 

For example, the signature super bell powerup of the game turns characters into cats, allowing them to climb walls, swipe enemies and run even faster. It is a pretty basic concept, yet it remains satisfying to use and easy to understand.

That said, playing the game alone quickens the effects of the exaggerated, straightforward design, and is emphatically more enjoyable to play with friends or family. Up to three extra players can join in at any time, working together to complete the game. Or in a much more joyous fashion, crush and throw each other off of platforms, in competition to obtain the most points at the end of each level. In doing so, players can earn a meaningless crown accessory, but it fuels hilarious competition all the same. 

Beyond that, the minimalist visuals leave a little to be desired, but the user interface is grounded in a way that casual video game players and people of all ages can comprehend. 

The highlight of the game, however, stands with its jazzy soundtrack, an emblem of unbridled joy, mystery, elegance and triumph. Composers Koji Kondo, Toru Minegishi and Mahito Yokota excelled in delivering memorable tunes to this title. 

Nothing is better than cruising a bright world while listening to the energetic trumpets and violins of Double Cherry Pass. 

Furthermore, while originally released on the failed Wii U system over seven years ago, the port features extraordinary updated improvements to the game’s performance and speed–literal speed, as the playable cast now moves faster than in the original game.

Combined with brand new moves, 3D World feels crunchy, exhilarating and far more improved than its previous iteration.

While the port would be fine with these improvements alone, what accelerates it to speciality is the new mode, Bowser’s Fury, in which after the events of 3D World wrap up, black goop corrupts the weakened king. Bowser’s son, Bowser Jr., teams up with Mario in order to save his father from the twisted fate the malice holds: presumably immortality as an enraged monster.

Differing from 3D World, Bowser’s Fury features one huge area to freely explore versus the narrowed and restricted individual levels of 3D World. It feels like a brand new title of its own, set with joyful platforming sections, a jumpy, fantastic new soundtrack and lots of cats. 

Even the soundtrack is more varied with its use of instruments, creating pieces that not only elicit a myriad of emotions, but that feel unique compared to past Mario series’ soundtracks. 

On top of this great concept, Bowser is presented as a demonic, goliath-sized version of his normal self, and rises from a large pool of black goop every so often to strike Mario with lightning hyper beams. When Bowser comes out, so does the stormy weather, choir and electric guitars in what should be an epic moment. 

However, this concept is left a little flat with him reusing the same single attack in every encounter and eventual Godzilla-esque fights are largely underwhelming. Bowser’s appearance rate is also unbalanced, with him either showing up too often or infrequently.

Since the player is supposed to use Bowser’s fire attack to break blocks and get some of the mode’s collectibles, cat shines, the inconsistent appearance rate is frustrating. 

While a nitpick, the constant cutscenes that play whenever Bowser shows up or disappears, along with the animation when collecting cat shines subtly breaks the flow of the game.

Ultimately, “Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury” is a game that anyone can get into, and it exists as one of the most solid, simple platforming experiences available, while also offering a mode that allows for more freedom and creativity in its design.

With a plethora of content, even after completing the game in the form of extra worlds and collectibles, 3D World certainly suffices as a necessary experience.