Keen and I have been playing the new Mario game off and on since it came out and whenever we can find the time. The short of it is that we both really love the game and we think it’s great and all that. I’m sure anybody that comes across our site knows about Mario games and how they work so I’m not going to bother going into that and rather I’m just going to highlight some of the things we like and don’t like.
3D World’s platforming mechanics are great. The game is kind of a blend between classic side scrolling games and the newer 3D games. Several of Mario’s signature moves are available like the long jump, backflip, side flip, wall jump, roll, etc. The only things that I really find missing is the triple jump and the ability to grab onto ledges. That last point might kind of defeat the purpose of this kind of game, though, since it’s more about getting through a platforming level rather than exploring one. It all seems to control very well, though, and for the most part any time you die is going to be directly tied to your competency level and not the fault of the game.
There are four playable characters initially: Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach. Each character actually controls fairly differently, too. Mario generally seems to have the best handling, Luigi can jump higher, Toad is faster, and Peach can float a bit mid-air. Pretty much the same kind of stuff you might remember from SMB2. Unfortunately, Yoshis don’t seem to have made it into the game, which is a bit of a bummer. There is an additional unlockable character but I won’t spoil that in case some people get bothered by that kind of thing.
The levels are designed really well. There seems to be a very nice variety and I don’t think either of us can remember a single level that we didn’t really like. There are 3 green stars hidden in each level along with a special stamp that you can use when making posts in Miiverse. Some of them are actually pretty tricky to find and obtain, which is nice. Several of the levels in general are just straight up difficult, which I would say is a good thing. If you die a lot they offer you a Leaf of Shame power-up, or whatever they call it, but I couldn’t tell you what it does since I forbid Keen from hitting the block lest he bring copious amounts of shame down upon us.
Each world contains several levels and some additional spots like Toad houses and other places where you can earn stars or pickup stamps. There are also some special single-player Toad explorer levels where you have to guide a little Toad around and collect stars but they are largely forgettable. One interesting thing to note is that it seems every time you complete a world a new one shows up, even when you think you are close to finishing. I think there is actually something like 4 bonus world. It’s pretty nuts.
The obvious big one can be seen on the package itself: The catsuit. It comes in the form of a bell, since I guess people tie bells to their cats, and turns your character into a feline. Or maybe it’s just a suit. Either way it makes your character pretty adorable, although it borders on creepy when you see somebody like Luigi tip-toeing around on all-fours. Just something unnatural about it. Anyway, when in the cat suit you get a scratch attack which can be really useful for taking out baddies. If you hold the button mid-air you perform some kind of zooming-pounce maneuver which will 9/10 send you quickly to your own death. You can also use your claws to scurry up walls and get to higher places but you are limited to how far you can go before you tire out and slide back down. Probably the most beneficial, or perhaps cheap, ability is being able to climb up the flagpoles at the end of each level. Unless you don’t really care about getting perfect flags.
The other new power-up is a twin cherry that will create a duplicate of your character. You will see them a whole lot less than the cat bells, though, and they are mostly used for special areas that require a certain number of characters present. Other than that the remaining power-ups are series regulars like: Mushrooms, Fireflower, Leaf, Star, and boomerang (maybe not so regular). I might be forgetting something but I think that covers it. Special block hats are also around every now and then for use. The propeller block I think is in one level along with the Goomba hat. The cannon block is featured in a few levels and the hidden coin block is in various levels. Not sure if those really count as power-ups but Mario does use them.
It’s actually kind of funny how in this game, actually all Mario games, the difficulty goes up quite significantly the more people you have playing. It was just Keen and myself playing but we caused each others death countless times (over 700 deaths and counting). The most common method of killing your ally would be jumping on their head and sending them downward into the abyss while you safely pop over to the next platform. I can only imagine how much more difficult this must be with four players.
The camera is also pretty curious in co-op. It seems to favor whoever is progressing past the other characters so if you don’t keep pace you will end up off-screen and will be bubbled over to your partner. This can easily cause you several deaths if you pop your bubble over a pit accidentally or if your partner gets killed while you are still bubbled.
Another interesting aspect of co-op would be any level that features Plessie, an orange sea monster. You have to ride on its back through certain parts of levels but EVERYBODY controls it. You have to coordinate where you want to go on the fly because you might need every player pushing in a specific direction if you want to navigate well or get someplace fast enough. If you coordinate your jumps at the same time then it sends Plessie into a much higher super jump. It’s chaotic but very fun.
That probably captures the whole co-op Mario experience: chaotic and fun. You will get killed by your partners and accidentally kill them dozens of times. It will be equally hilarious and infuriating but in the end it’s a very memorable and fun experience.
Is it worth it?
Yes. Yes yes yes. It’s a fantastically fun game and a great addition to the Wii U library. Is it worth buying a Wii U? Sure, why the hell not? You can also pick up several other fantastic Wii U titles. It’s a bummer that the system doesn’t seem to be doing nearly as well as it could be but hopefully with more fantastic games like this Nintendo can turn things around.