Mario is a rare example of a video game franchise that regularly repeats itself to great success. Aside from the odd RPG installment, racing game, and minigame compilation, the plumber’s been breaking blocks, beating up Bowser, and saving the princess for over thirty years. The release of Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS doesn’t really do anything new, but it is still a shining example of Mario’s timelessness.
As his first outing on Nintendo’s newest portable system, SM3DL sees Mario in a mixture of classic 2D sidescrolling action in addition to full 3D levels like those in Super Mario Galaxy. Mario’s traditional arsenal of power-ups returns, with staples like the Fire Flower and Mushroom joined by the long-awaited return of the Tanooki Suit as well as the new Boomerang Flower. Each power-up fulfills certain roles and come into play with optional side objectives such as finding the three golden coins hidden in each level. Aside from that, anyone that’s played a Mario title will feel quite comfortable with this game.
The only noteworthy new feature is, of course, the 3D capabilities of the new hardware. Nintendo has done a nice job of bringing Mario’s vibrant and colorful world to the 3DS in a way that Super Mario 64 brought the series into 3D to begin with. The depth granted to the Mushroom Kingdom thanks to the 3DS is some of the finest seen on the console, and is occasionally used in some clever set pieces in efforts to lure players into misplaced jumps. Compared to Ocarina of Time 3D, the 3D in Super Mario 3D Land is far better.
As stated before, Mario’s quite odd since everyone loves him despite most of his starring roles being pretty much the same as the last. Regardless, the time and effort that went into Super Mario 3D Land is quite clear. If the game was available at the launch of the 3DS, the console would have done exceptionally well.