Super Mario 3D Land Review
Super Mario 3D Land Box Art
System: 3DS
Dev: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Pub: Nintendo
Release: November 13, 2011
Players: 1
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.

Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot

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.

By Sean Engemann
CCC Contributing Writer

Clean, colorful, and brilliantly portrayed on the 3DS. The 3D effect is also flawless.
It's not the tightest Mario of the bunch, but he still gets the job done with his usual flair.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
A great score of classic tunes, reworked to perfection.
Play Value
The levels are incredibly fun to play, but there are omissions likely to leave Mario fans shaking their heads.
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Tanooki Mario returns! The fan-favorite Tanooki suit makes its first appearance on the Nintendo 3DS. Use the Tanooki suit's tail to attack enemies or float gently down from great heights. These abilities help players move through the 3D environments with more confidence.
  • 3D visuals make it easier for players to judge the depths and distances in their environments. Players can more accurately judge the jump to the next platform or how far Mario is from a question block.
  • New and familiar abilities add unique game-play strategies to the adventure. Mario can perform a rolling somersault attack or run fast with a dash move.
  • The Circle Pad gives players complete control to confidently move Mario through fun and challenging environments.
  • New enemies include Goombas with tails, tall stacks of Goombas, and a Piranha Plant that spits ink to obscure a player's view.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge Super Mario 3D Land Screenshot - click to enlarge

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