For a system that relies so heavily on one feature, it’s surprising to find how many 3DS games lack a true 3D experience. So when a game comes around that does take full advantage of the system’s key feature, it deserves special attention. In the case of Super Mario Land 3D, that special attention is well deserved. 3D Land is easily one of the 3DS’ top games. With its traditional platforming mixed with original concepts and breath-taking visual effects, 3D Land is a game no one should miss. Strap on your seatbelt, we’re going to the Mushroom kingdom.
The plot of Super Mario 3D Land is just like every Super Mario Game you’ve played before. The game begins with Mario reading a notice that Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser. He must then begin a long journey across many worlds to find the vulnerable princess and bring her back home. We know, you’ve heard “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” so many times before when referring to this reiterating plot that we’re just gonna save you the misery of having it explained to you again. Summary: the story is what you expected and nothing else.
Thankfully, Super Mario 3D Land completely turns it around when it comes to gameplay. Granted, there isn’t much originality when it comes to 3D Land’s gameplay. But what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in pure bliss. As expected, 3D Land is a platformer through-and-through. Your goal is simple: just reach the end of the stage and slide down the flagpole. We’ve seen it since 1985. What separates 3D Land from its NES brethren is the amount of secrets, collectibles, and different paths that appear on your way to that precious flagpole. Unlike other Super Mario games of late, 3D Land encourages players to find these little secrets and special areas, to the point where certain worlds become impassible before the player has collected enough secrets. Some may shudder at the thought of being forced to do anything in a Super Mario title, but I thought it was a fantastic way to slow down those who want to just rush through this beautiful game.
What makes 3D Land such a beatiful game is not just its outstanding visuals, but its use of its native system’s 3D effect. Taking Mario and throwing him into 2D, yet 3D scenarios is what 3D Land is all about. You can expect objects, enemies, and items to make their way from the foreground to the background, all with the camera rarely getting in the way. For those who are a bit perplexed by the thought of having objects appearing to be thrust towards you, there is the ability to change the game’s 3D effect. Those who are a little more daring can set the game to have the 3D effect “pop!”, while others can set the 3D effect to depth. While I found the “pop!” effect to be quite enjoyable, more often than not I found my game set to the depth effect.
I feel the audio in 3D Land really represents the game as a whole. A jukebox of the series’ most classic tunes, along with some new ones, the soundtrack to 3D Land is just like the game’s story, gameplay, and visuals in how it cherry-picks the best of the series and strings it together into one gigantic pack of awesome. While playing through 3D Land, I was constantly taken aback by a gem of the Mario series playing through the 3DS’ tiny speakers. Nintendo has shown us time and again — with each new Super Mario release — what a soundtrack is supposed to be. I just find it amazing that even a portable entry in the series can set the bar and blow away even its console predecessors.
While 3D Land is mostly a melting pot of the Super Mario series, there are times when the game blazes its own path. Case-in-point: 3D Land‘s replay value. I won’t spoil it for those who are reading this review before playing through the game, but just keep in mind that you’re not nearly done with 3D Land once you clear the eight worlds. It’s typical for a Super Mario title to offer more collectibles after completing the game to add replay value, but what 3D Land does is completely original. I only hope Nintendo continues to use this great tactic when they begin to develop Mario’s next adventure.
This review has been a total love-fest for 3D Land and the Super Mario series as a whole. But what can I say, Nintendo knows their stuff when it comes to making Super Mario games. In case the message wasn’t clear enough through this review, Super Mario 3D Land is a game all Nintendo fans must absolutely pick up. Sure, the story may be a little dull considering how many times we’ve heard it, but all the other aspects of the game will make you completely forget the severe repetition of the story. Anyone looking for another great platformer to take with them on the go owes themselves to pickup Super Mario 3D Land.
- Tried-and-true gameplay
- Outstanding visuals that take advantage of the 3DS’ unique capabilities
- Classic Mario soundtrack that is sure to surprise even long-time fans
- Chock full of replay value
- We get it, Peach is susceptible to kidnappings