|System: Wii U|
|Release: December, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Sean Engemann
An on-screen Mario entertained a patiently waiting crowd this morning before the Wii U Software Showcase began. With such a strong presence for the portly plumber at this year’s E3 (despite it being the “Year of Luigi”), it seemed only fitting that the iconic mascot kept the crowd smiling. Since he acknowledged me directly and gave me a little personal welcome, I thought it only polite to return the favor and test out his newest platformer, Super Mario 3D World.
The newest edition to the platforming family is shockingly distant from the Galaxy series for the Wii. Instead, 3D World has more in common with its 3DS counterpart, Super Mario 3D Land. The level design has a fairly thin structure, keeping you well within the boundaries of the area, lest you plummet to your doom with the traditional Bowser screen swipe and sinister laugh. Though the Wii U lacks the 3D feature found on Nintendo’s handheld, the levels showcased still do an excellent job playing with depth and direction. Traditional side scrolling is mixed with tower-climbing levels as well as other levels that move you far into the background. One particularly intriguing level has you mount a fair sized aquatic dinosaur (possibly a cousin of Yoshi but certainly a different breed) and follow the water current off into the distance.
Every level has plenty of hidden secrets and multiple pathways to reach the goal. Red coins return to increase your point total and provide a free life. There are rings to jump through, as well as a trio of green stars hidden in each level to find. One new environmental feature is transparent pipes. Unlike the standard green pipes that instantly transport you to a new location, transparent pipes suck you up and move you through its elbows and junctions. You can keep an eye on your character as you move though the pipes, and must press the proper direction when confronted with a fork. You move quickly, and oftentimes have enemies tailing you, so improper timing and poor direction choices can end with painful results. It seems like a simple addition to the platforming formula, but as usual, the development team at Nintendo has near-flawless level-design skills, thus it adds a significant layer to the gameplay.
With regards to the characters, Nintendo has also pulled features from another past title, Super Mario Bros. 2. Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad are the candidates for you to choose from at the beginning of each level. If you remember the classic NES title, you’ll immediately recall the distinction between the abilities of each character. Mario is the all-around athlete, Luigi can jump a little higher, Peach can float for a small period, and Toad is the quickest of the bunch. This definitely made for some heated multiplayer matches; I cursed Peach for her extra hang time as she floated across a chasm, while my poor Toad plummeted to the bottom. The competitive multiplayer is alive and well in Super Mario 3D World, though the frustration from the New Super Mario Bros. series is thankfully lacking. Coins and other pickups award you with points as you all move together through the board. Should someone fall behind or perish, a bubble will warp you back to the action. Scores are tallied when you hit the finish pole, with the winner raised up on the highest platform.
The final feature that must be mentioned is the only official new power-up, the Cat Suit. After collecting the cat bell you will instantly don the furry feline outfit and gain the ability to scratch enemies as well as climb walls for a limited period. The Cat Suit also allows you to glide diagonally downwards through the air and gain an extra boost of speed after running for a short period. The Fire Flower, Tanooki Suit, and other power-ups from Super Mario 3D Land will also be present here.
Nintendo has looked to the past and present for inspiration for their newest Mario adventure, and though the announcement doesn’t strike a groundbreaking note like Super Mario Galaxy did, there is enough fresh level design, new environmental hazards, and a quirky power-ups to get us excited for its release. And we won’t have to wait too long; Super Mario 3D World is scheduled to launch this December.
For more information on new E3 announcements and to see just-released trailers, check out our E3 recap page.
Date: June 11, 2013