Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo 3DS Game
Newest Review: ... after another gets very boring, and the challenge isn't very hard so it makes game play even more boring. With the original New Super Mar... more
Not So Super.
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
Member Name: illogicology
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
Advantages: Nice Graphics, 3D style options, Time and care gone into producing it.
Disadvantages: Odd mix of elements from different Mario games, overall approach seems a little disappointing,
Super Mario 3D Land is a 3D platformer somewhat in the style of the Mario Galaxy series. However, probably due to it being a portable title, it has borrowed a lot of the overworld map and saving options from the New Super Mario Bros. series. The result is a 3D Mario title that is divided very much into small, bitesize levels with lots of bonus levels and little powerups to be find along the way. The problem is that the fusion doesn't work particularly well; while 3D Land looks like a 3D Mario game on the surface, it has taken so many elements from the 2D Mario games that it's never clear what it wants to be. Instead of a health bar, Mario returns to the "one hit you're small, another you're dead" approach. While this works for Mario in his 2D outings, it feels strange here and suddenly having to cope with Mario becoming half the size on a portable screen is a real pain. There's also a strange sort of "race to the finish" angle on the levels, with Mario jumping to grab a flag like classic Mario. Again, it feels sort of strange and out of place. 3D Mario games have always had a sort of exploration feel to them; putting 3D Mario back into a race to the end of the level scenario just shows up how much weaker the gameplay is here. As for the overworld, it's no replacement for the 3D hubs of Mario 64 or Mario Galaxy and the result is that the game feels cheap and condescending.
Condescension might seem like a strange trait for a video game, but 3D Land is laced with it. I could never shake the feeling that this was Nintendo's response to the success of the 2D New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii, which outsold the company favourite, Mario Galaxy. As a result, we have a 3D Mario game that plays a lot like Galaxy, but is crammed full out tropes from the vintage 2D Mario games. It really pushes the nostalgia angle, but these features are so out of place. The much promoted Tanooki suit, a costume that gives Mario a little tail and lets him fly, completely breaks the game as it is too powerful and turns up way too often. Its inclusion seems only to be to provide a nod to Super Mario Bros. 3. It's like someone took all the things from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, nostalgia, goofy powerups and an old school level map, and stuck them onto a completely different game as if they could replicate sales that way.
Gameplay is solid, with the circle pad continuing to be an excellent control option for 3D games. I've heard people say the 3D effect really helps platforming, but I found it much the same on or off. Controls are tight and button layouts seem responsive. However, Mario's capabilities are dumbed down a bit in this edition too and he doesn't have anywhere near the range of jumping and running abilities, making platforming a bit trickier for anyone who's spent a lot of time with other 3D Mario games. Worst of all, the character now runs slowly unless you hold a run button, another throw back to 2D games that just doesn't work here.
Graphically, the game is very nice. All the character models look almost as good as the Wii versions from Mario Galaxy, and while the sheer force of a home console isn't quite there, the game still does a great job of hiding it behind the far more modern shading and lighting techniques that make the whole package look smooth and sharp. As usual, the 3DS screen is a bit lower resolution than I would like, but that's unavoidable.
The 3D effect is competent, and occasionally very good, but never mind blowing. However, this game does feature a nice option to change the style of 3D. One mode is set as standard, and makes objects seem a bit more substantial like most games on the console, the other gives added depth letting thinks sink back further into the screen. I preferred the second mode after flicking between the two a bit, but the small screen really makes any 3D effect very minimal.
I'm a big fan of the 2D Mario bros. games, I think they've all been excellent, whereas the 3D games have been more of a mixed bag. However, throwing elements from Mario Bros. games into a 3D Mario title just doesn't work. Each is successful because of its reliance on a core gameplay style that works, when you mix and match like this you just get a game that falls flat. At times Super Mario 3D Land really works, it's easy to jump in when you want to and it uses streetpass in a nice way, but all too often it just feels like a compromise in all the wrong places. The gameplay is could, but it seems to be trying to hard, like it doesn't have confidence behind itself anymore. It never becomes ambitious, choosing instead to be safe, to be nostalgic and ultimately to be boring. It's OK, and the 3DS could really use more games with the same quality approach and attention to detail, but there's just too much that's mediocre from a series that can really do better.
Summary: An OK title for a handheld in desperate need of decent games.
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