|System: Wii U|
|Release: November 22, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Cartoon Violence|
The dual cherries seem like an odd addition, but they're genius. Instead of using them to help brute-force my way through a level, I was forced to try and preserve the items in the event I came across a switch that would need 4, or heaven forbid, 5 Marios or Peaches to reach a precious star or stamp. If I couldn't get it right, I felt compelled to replay a level the right way, with all clones intact, to see what was missed.
That's only scratching the surface of new gameplay elements held within Super Mario 3D World. Clear pipes can have multiple exits, meaning players must constantly direct a character through to find secret areas or collect every item. A stamp is hidden away in each level, and collecting it lets you enhance your Miiverse posts. Three green stars are hidden away in most standard levels, and collecting all of them means people can unlock extra levels and areas. There is just so much to do, and since characters have different strengths, people have to either play with friends or go outside of their comfort zone to find everything. I may favor using Peach for her hovering ability, but I have to turn to Toad for any level with a speed-run.
Still, what makes Super Mario 3D World truly special to me are the secrets. There is so much here, hidden, that makes the experience better for people who are willing to take the time to look for them. It doesn't take much. Maybe it means using the right analog stick to adjust the camera in the middle of a level to change your perspective. Go off the beaten path, where the coins, blocks, and enemies appear to be directing your attention, and you could find an extra power-up, a stamp, or some other reward for your dedication. Even on the world map, people have to pay attention. For the first time, gamers have the chance to wander beyond the lines that connect one level to another. Do it. Walk around castles, and discover a hidden 1-up mushroom. Press A on a suspicious, circular patch of land, and a pipe may pop up and take you to a level you didn't know existed.
It's all this and more that will make Super Mario 3D World one of those Wii U games that we'll reminisce about years from now. Perhaps we'll remember when we finally unlocked Rosalina, and with her help, were finally able to reach that stamp in World 6. It could be our go-to co-op game, where we worked together with friends to beat it in one sitting. Personally, my goal is to go back to every level and acquire every stamp, because I have plans for Miiverse comics involving all of them.
Super Mario 3D World is the closest we will ever come to a perfect Mario game, one that is a culmination of every right decision ever made in the series. Alone, or with friends, the first time, or the tenth time, it does everything right. It's a wonderful adventure, and makes me proud to be a Wii U owner.
Date: November 19, 2013