|Dev: Nintendo EAD Tokyo|
|Release: November 13, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Cartoon Violence|
Mario's movements have always been masterpieces of precision, tweaked to perfection to make him move just right. Yet the plumber seems to have added a few pounds since his last outing, and the controls feel a tad heavy. Turns and jumps all have a slight lag, and apparently Mario isn't fit enough to perform a triple-jump anymore. Nor can he slide down every wall, perform a backflip with ease, or even grab Koopa shells. All these omission are curiosities to me, as they hinder the player's freedom, and could have easily been integrated.
The difficulty level of the main quest is laughable. You may lose a handful of lives in World 8, but by that point, you'll likely have dozens to spare. And should you happen to lose a few lives in one place, the game will hold your hand until you finish the stage, presenting you with a power-up block that instantly appears, often with a shimmering Tanooki suit that also makes you invincible.
The challenge is reduced even more due to the fact that the levels are incredibly short, each one taking only a couple minutes to breeze through. And there's virtually no incentive to replay the levels. There are three Star Coins to collect, which are required to unlock levels down the road, but nearly all of them are in plain sight along a path you must travel anyway, and you'll likely collect all three the first time through each level. The levels don't track your coin count individually, nor is there any scoring system, which negates a reason to return to the cleared stages.
If nothing else, Nintendo should be pushing every extra feature the 3DS comes packed with, but this too is barebones in Super Mario 3D Land. StreetPass is the only function utilized here. Passing another 3DS user in the street will refresh the Toad Houses and Mystery Block boards, which are supposed to be challenge levels but are watered down to ten-second shellackings of poor enemies trapped in tiny spaces. Also, there are no Play Coins or Augmented Reality features, either of which could have added fun diversions and promoted the built-in features.
That's not to say you're value is limited to the main quest. Although I cannot divulge any post-completion content in this pre-release review, let me just say that once you've saved the day, you're just getting warmed up.
When given the task of reviewing an entry in a star-studded series like Mario, one can't simply say the game is fun, the graphics and sound are dazzling, and the controls function well. When a bar is set so high, any imperfections are much more noticeable. Super Mario 3D Land is a welcome addition to the portable's library, sure to satiate your platforming appetite, but I just can't shake the thought that had it been given a little more time in the cooker, a "Must Buy" score would have been readily handed to it.
CCC Contributing Writer