Despite my metaphorical description of a tree that houses the 2D Mario titles, the plumber's 3DS debut isn't strictly speaking a game that plays out on a 2D plain. In fact, as you'd expect from a platform that can handle this sort of thing, the game involves movement in all angles with full 360-degree movement being nothing but compulsory while you navigate levels, yet 3D Land has a lot more in common with the 2D classics than the more recent epics such as the Galaxy games. This is, in essence, a 2D Mario tribute that plays out on a 3D plain. The mixture of the side-scrolling games' formulaic structure and the tight controls of the polygonal releases certainly makes for a delectable experience, albeit one that isn't quite fresh - if anything, close to becoming rotten. Super Mario 3D Land isn't at all a bad game, it's just the flaw of it being all too familiar brings it down a little, and what's worse is that the gripes I and others had with the stereoscopic debut of the plumber don't end at a lack of innovation. Without trying to sound like a sceptical Mario hater, this release is far too easy, far too short and full of re-hashed ideas. With the plumber's 3DS debut, it feels like Nintendo have taken the ingredients that made past titles starring the heroic plumber so superb, and mashed them all up into one, afterwards adding a sauce that acts as the glitz of eye-popping (calm down, not literally) three-dimensional visuals. Super Mario 3D Land is without a doubt new enough to warrant a purchase, but that doesn't stop it from feeling familiar to its predecessors and unfortunately lacking in innovation.
|On occasion, 3D Land pays homage to many segments we know and love. This scene is one all gamers should be familiar with.|
While the vast majority of gameplay elements found in 3D Land have been recycled from past Mario titles, 2D and 3D, the game controls like a mixture of the two. You navigate the plumber on a 3D plain with the Circle Pad and jump with the A button, as per usual. However, players will discover that the dash button from 2D titles, never before seen in a 3D Mario game, has been added to the cauldron in the form of a button press. Brand-new is the ability to roll, which can be used to smash through boxes and fake wooden Goombas and the like, and followed up by the polyonal predecessors' super jump, which involves crouching with a shoulder button and performing a lengthier leap with the A button. With the exception of the new roll function, 3D Land feels familiar in the sense of controls, too, but it's in the context they are used that makes playing the game feel unique enough. As for the structure of this stereoscopic adventure, you traverse through eight worlds of mashed-up ideas with a good amount of enjoyment, before discovering that after accomplishing this task, not one, not two, but eight more special worlds are opened up to play through. That's impressive, considering the 2D Mario iterations of old never exceeded nine locales full of levels. Like the original Super Mario Bros., the stages of 3D Land don't stick to a specific theme visualised through a world map. Instead, levels are marked 1-1, 1-2, 2-1 and so on, with each level feeling distinctive and not restricted to a particular idea. Granted, some stages found in the special worlds are remixed versions of ones you played through in the first eight, but I digress, just like the package as a whole they're new enough to be enjoyable.
|Do the maths and you'll discover that Super Mario 3D Land only has three different bosses. While not the point of this homage to 2D Mario titles, that's a bit weak.|
|Despite the familiarity (there's nothing in this screenshot we haven't seen before in another Mario game), 3D Land certainly looks the part, even more so in 3D.|