News Article

Feature: The Madness That Is Super Mario 3D World's Multiplayer Mode

Posted by Martin Watts

One crown to rule them all

In this personal reminiscence, Martin Watts describes his experience of playing Super Mario 3D World in multiplayer, and how it exposes our greatest flaws of character...

Last week, Features Editor Thomas Whitehead and I were invited along to Nintendo UK's offices for a bit of hands-on time with one of Nintendo's most anticipated games this holiday season: Super Mario 3D World. Shortly after our trip, Thomas wrote an in-depth preview, which provides a fantastic overview of what you can expect from the game, and I highly recommend giving it a read, if you haven't already.

Nevertheless, we felt the need to go further in our examination of Super Mario 3D World. We've spilled the beans on the mechanics and the whopping amount of content and ideas that Nintendo has thrown in, but seeing as multiplayer is very much at the heart of this latest instalment in the series, we thought it'd make sense for us to go into more detail about what it's actually like to play through it with someone else. After experiencing the "joy" of "teaming up" with Thomas last week, I think it's fair to say that it's absolutely bonkers.

But before I recount the calamitous events that took place on that fateful day last week, it's worth mentioning just how seamlessly — and effortlessly — Super Mario 3D World switches between being a single- and multiplayer experience. Yes, inserting additional players may not be the most complex thing you can do when making a game, but what I mean is that this particular title feels right no matter how many players you have. Moreover, the way in which Nintendo has created a perfect balance of cooperative and competitive elements is undeniably impressive; there's no need for two separate modes, and everything blends together to provide a surprisingly open-ended experience.

And it really can't be understated just how much of an impact this mixture of teamwork and cooperation has on your experience of Super Mario 3D World when playing it with up to three friends. It brings out the best and worst in people, so much so that it could quite possibly be used to determine the strength of friendships for years to come.

For example, take my partner-in-crime for this particular occasion, Mr Thomas Whitehead. Rumour has it that Thomas rules Nintendo Life's features section with an iron fist, reportedly once threatening to brutally stomp a staff writer like a Goomba when he came across a mistake in their work. Personally, I've always considered these murmurings to be poppycock, viewing him more as a benevolent dictator who just wants what's best for both the site and the team.

But then I played Super Mario 3D World with him, and after only a few levels I realised that maybe there had been some truth to the fabled tale all along. What followed was one of the most chaotic, manic — yet downright hilarious — multiplayer experiences I've ever had.

There was one clear cause of the madness that ensued: the crown. For those that don't know, Super Mario 3D World's multiplayer mode keeps track of each player's individual contribution to the overall score for each level and ranks them accordingly. The lucky person who comes out on top is awarded a nice shiny crown, which they then wear for the duration of the next level. As far as in-game items go, it's unique in that it bestows a marvellous feeling of superiority on its wearer, asserting their superiority when it comes jumping chasms, besting Bowser and collecting coins.

Nevertheless, your overall objective in Super Mario 3D World is the still same as it has always been: reach the end of each level, preferably without losing any lives along the way. And it makes sense to work together for the most part; you share the same pool of lives, not to mention that having an extra player or two definitely helps when you're trying to find the wealth of secrets that the Sprixie Kingdom — Super Mario 3D World's new setting — has to offer.

But the appeal of discovering the game's many secrets wasn't enough to prevent us from being drawn in by the alluring effects of that nefarious crown. In a way, it is the Sprixie Kingdom's own version of the One Ring from Lord of the Rings; it's always there in the back of your mind, calling to you, promising you glory over your opponent — even if it is just for a fleeting moment. As bizarre as it may sound, the crown possesses the power to change how you play; it cruelly tests your resolve to make your way through the game without backstabbing your team mates.

In case you're wondering how Thomas and I fared in this regard, all you need to know is that there are now plenty of metaphorical knives in my back. Admittedly, his back resembles Swiss cheese, too, but I stand by the classic argument that he started it.

Despite this, things actually began pretty well for us. True to our British values, we were excessively polite and courteous at first, refusing to take power-ups and offering them to one another, while ensuring we traversed the game's treacherous environments as a team. At the end of the first level, the crown made its first appearance, Thomas was its rightful claimant and I graciously offered my congratulations. A few levels later, he was still mopping up the majority of the points on the scoreboard, and the crown remained solely in his possession. He flashed a friendly smile at the end of each level, occasionally commenting positively on a mediocre in-game achievement of mine, no doubt hoping to assuage my fears that I was rubbish at it. But I knew that deep down he was really revelling in the fact that he was completely trouncing me, and that he had that glorious crown with which to prove it.

At this point I gave into my most basic instincts — I wanted that crown and I didn't care how I got it. We had both realised pretty early on that if you wanted to be top, you had to nab those all-important, high-scoring items; green stars, stamps and power-ups all dished out mega points, and I wasn't going to just let Thomas help himself to even more of them. Suddenly, every sought-after item became a desperate race for the both of us. Cooperation was still a priority, but by this point our egos had gotten the better of us, and it wasn't long before the Sprixie Kingdom had descended into complete and utter chaos.

What followed wasn't pretty, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also absolutely hilarious. We quickly discovered that the crown could be stolen from its wearer by hitting them with a butt bash. One sneaky tactic I resorted to early on involved me unnecessarily butt-bashing an enemy near Thomas, "inadvertently" hitting him and stealing the crown in the process. It was a flawless plan, or at least I thought it was until we reached the end of the level and he "accidentally" picked me up and threw me over the top of the flagpole. Missing out on the 10,000 point bonus you get if you reach the top resulted in me having to concede the crown to him yet again.

However, missing the flagpole bonus was the least of my worries. Thomas had other, far more sinister plans in mind when it came to denying me the crown, the most cruel of which involved chucking me into a bottomless pit a few levels later. Doing so resulted in the temporary loss of the crown (until the next high-score was achieved that is), but by this point, I think he was just content with wiping the smug look off my face, and denying me a petty 5000 points had clearly taken precedence.

Despite the ever-escalating battle for the crown, we actually made great progress and had a ton of fun along the way. The new cherry item, which creates a clone of your character each time you pick one up, resulted in much laughter. Overwhelmed by the chaos and confusion happening on-screen, we were unknowingly running our clones off the edge of the level or picking up each other's by mistake and throwing them straight into enemies and hazards. The fact that the clones can be separated over some distance, yet still controlled simultaneously, allows for some very comedic results. It's not a revolutionary new feature by any means, but there's no denying that it's a hoot.

Meanwhile, the new cannon box item was nothing short of an explosive recipe for disaster, as it's possible for players to hit each other with the projectiles. Within the tight confines of the level in which we got to use the item, dodging each other's cannonballs was incredibly tricky. Even when we called a ceasefire and made a conscious effort to avoid each other, death by cannonball was still the biggest killer.

With the crown proving counter-productive to teamwork and the both of us having numerous means with which to oust one another, the war had escalated to a catastrophic level, so much so that our playthrough swiftly ended in disaster. Upon reaching some difficult segments of the game, we realised that our in-fighting had utterly ravaged our joint pool of extra lives. The crown began to matter little, as devious traps, chasms and enemies picked us off at an alarming rate. Despite our renewed efforts to work together as a team, warning each other of hazards and frantically rushing to pick up any coins we saw in a bid to secure an extra life, it made no difference and we were soon hanging our heads in shame as the Game Over screen made its first (but only) appearance of the day. There were no winners here, only losers; fools who had been duped by the greatest evil of all: the crown.

After many hours of backstabbing, deception – the occasional bit of teamwork – and, above all, laughter, it was kicking-out time at Nintendo HQ. By this point, the crown had swapped heads so many times, I began to suspect that the game might feature an alternate, unlockable ending where the Sprixie Kingdom is declared a democracy, and all outsiders are banished in a bid to put an end to the terrible genocide against plumbers, Toads and princesses. It'd certainly be an interesting — if a little dark — direction for the Super Mario franchise to take. And for as much as I may have labelled Thomas as a maniacal, score-hungry and crown-thieving fiend throughout this article, the truth of the matter is that I was just as bad. In fact, I was probably worse.

And that's the fantastic thing about the competitive elements that Nintendo has subtly instilled into Super Mario 3D World; they add a whole new dimension to the gameplay, which you can choose to embrace if you so wish. You can be as good or as bad as you want, although you do so at your own peril. Thomas and I may have messed around and indulged in a fair amount of competition throughout, but if you want to play the game in as cooperative a manner as possible, then it lets you do just that. Out of everything I got to experience during my time with the game, this was quite easily the aspect that surprised and entertained me most.

If there’s one thing you should take away from this somewhat exaggerated account of our time with the game, it’s that Super Mario 3D World is undeniably fun and inventive — even more so when played with friends. Nintendo has done more than just add a third dimension for players to move around in, and rather, it's looked at ways in which different types of players — whether they like playing competitively, cooperatively or with a mixture of the two — can still get a great deal of enjoyment from the game. Nevertheless, if you really want to reach the end of the game, take my advice: play nicely, and definitely don't play with Thomas (or myself for that matter).

Super Mario 3D World for Wii U releases in North America on 22nd November and 29th November in Europe. Naturally, we'll have our in-depth review ready for you in the coming weeks.

When playing Super Mario 3D World, will you leave your team mates behind and steal all the glory for yourself or will you embrace the wonders of teamwork? Is it wrong to throw another player's character off the edge of the level every now and again? Share your thoughts with us on these pressing issues in the comments section below!

From the web

Game Screenshots

User Comments (89)



Captain_Balko said:

I was one of the nay-sayers when this was announced, expressing disappointment at the game when it was first announced (and this is from a massive Mario fan since I was old enough to play video games). Slowly, it grew on me, and now I'm incredibly excited for this.

I'm just worried that my brother is going to get upset with me while playing because I'm the superior Mario player. Still, looks awesome, cannot wait to get it.



Hunter-D said:

This is going to be a good warm up in the run up to Smash Bros.

I can't wait to experience some wacky-local-multiplayer-madness once more!



Tuurtledove said:

Happened to have a little Hands-On with the game myself a few days ago. And can indeed confirm the majority of what was written above. Especially the seamless transition between competitive and cooperative. One moment you're establishing a little team coordination to get over an endless pit, and within a few mere moments later you'll find yourself pushing each other into it. It's a game that brings out the monster in everyone, and it's pure wonderful enjoyment because of it



AdanVC said:

Wow, looks like pure genuine multiplayer fun. Nintendo are the kings of local multiplayer games without a doubt.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

Sounds pretty crazy. Considering how sadistic each one of friends is in multiplayer games this will be perfect especially since they have the sense of humour to take the abuse as well.

The lives are shared? I guess it's a good balance with the crown then. You can fool around but you got to be kind of careful about it.

@Martin You mentioned the game felt open ended, but have you tested exactly how faraway players can get from each other? If there is a limit, where does it extend from (i'm guessing player one)?



Nintenjoe64 said:

I wonder if there are still doubters trying to claim that they knew all this stuff was going to be in this game and it still isn't worthy of being a 3D Mario?

I don't think I've been this hyped for a Mario game since Mario 64!



Blast said:

LOL that was nice and now we know why this game won't have online mulitplayer but just ghost Miis and (maybe) leaderboards. If there was online multiplayer for this game then it would just lead to trolls fighting each other and prolly ruining the experience for someone else. Super Mario 3D World is better off with local multiplayer but having a online mode where you could play with friends from your friend list would be good. There's another game thats also facing tons of trolls ruining the experience for others via online... glances at GTA V Online



Blast said:

@IxnayontheCK Yeah but then again its releasing around the same time Xbox 1 and PS4 is releasing right? Nintendo is smart. While some people adjust to the PS4/Xbox One, Nintendo will be like: "Hey to all those who can't afford a PS4/Xbox One... we just released a must buy game! Come and get it! We also got a much cheaper console!" LOL




I'm calling it now: This game is going to be easy as balls because it needs to accommodate four players; not just one.

It's really why I'm so put off at everything they've shown so far. The platforming will never reach the level that was in Galaxy(2) simply because it would be too hard with four players at once.

We won't see levels like this...

or this...

It makes me sad



MegaWatts said:

@Ernest_The_Crab when I say open-ended, I don't mean large open areas, but rather the game doesn't necessarily play out the same each time.

With regards to the camera, It switches between players - usually it keeps up with the person who's in the middle of it all when all on screen and the person at the front if the others are lagging behind. It does open up quite a bit though



Rezalack said:

It really sucks that we won't get online play with this game.. I had my hopes up pretty high when I saw that there was multiplayer and thought we'd have online for sure, but nope. I love Nintendo but they need to get with the program. There is nothing wrong with online play and everyone would be happy to have it.. it's definitely not impossible seeing as Miyamoto himself admitted they could have added it, just decided not to. Ghosts are cool and all, but.. come on. Get with the times. With that said.. I'll probably still buy this game by christmas, it does look fun regardless of the lack of online and I'm sure if the levels are chaotic enough speed-running will be fun as well.



Shadowkiller97 said:

@Ernest_The_Crab There definitely is a limit based on all the trailers and playthroughs of levels we have seen. Not sure how far though. But I do remember them mentioning around E3 that it is not limited to a certain player, but to whoever is the furthest in the level.



startropics3 said:

I agree with the developers on keeping online multiplayer out of this game. They wanted to maximize the game's enjoyment, and an online option would likely complicate the traditional simplicity of a Super Mario title. Plus, the drawback of split screens in local multiplayer is moot. Instead you get to witness the reactions of a person sitting (or standing) next to you, which is the best part of a multiplayer game. I see very little benefit to having an online multiplayer option in this game.



rjejr said:

@IxnayontheCK @Blastoise-san - "Nintendo is smart."

No, Nintendo is lucky they at least have this ready now, in no way was it held back a year on purpose, this game was never ever going to be anywhere near ready at launch. The 3DS version, made by the same people, only released in Nov 2011, and it takes more than 1 year to make a game of this caliber. It took Nintendo forever to make Pikmin 3.

And as much as the Wii U could have used this at launch, Nintendo was really pushing the Gamepad and Nintendo Land's asymmetrical play - I've hardly read a whiff of Gamepad usage for this. Also, if this comes out before NSMBU, well that game looks really lame by comparison, no? And then you have the Luigi levels being sold for $30 this past summer. And I do think Nintendo hoped for more sales based on the name alone after the Wii sold so well so they probably were never going to rush anything out the door.

So as much as my initial reaction was the same - Wii U should have had this game at launch - it actually works better this year. People should buy a Wii U for this. The Wii U that also has NSMBU and the Luigi levels in the box for $299. Thats a lot of Mario platforming for $359.



ScorpionMG said:

"will you leave your team mates behind and steal all the glory for yourself or will you embrace the wonders of teamwork? Is it wrong to throw another player's character off the edge of the level every now and again?"
It depends, usually with friends i'll probably most use teamwork and maybe steal glory/throw in edges but with my brother i'll probably keep stealing glory ;D



Moshugan said:

@LUIGITORNADO I'm pretty sure there will be at least some extremely hard levels. Even though New SMB. U is a multiplayer game, it has many levels that are practically impossible with multiple players!
That said, New SMB. Wii and U are much easier played single.



Capt_N said:

I don't know what will become of the WU(this gen), though I've always thought in the back of my mind, that I would eventually own one for the Nintendo ips. This looks wonderful for local multi. Maybe I can get my family involved. I sure hope, & pray I get a WU this Christmas. This may take precedence over LoZ:ALBW.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@rjejr I think Gamepad usage was mentioned for this game. Though you can use the additional features while controlling your own character.



NintyMan said:

This was an interesting and funny read. The whole concept of the crown is to stoke egos, so that would easily lead to trouble. I'm not a troll and I would rather do teamwork. This makes me glad that this doesn't have random online with strangers, though I wouldn't mind online friends. I'm just happy that this game is wonderful for single and multiplayer.



chewytapeworm said:

I was absolutely convinced this had online multiplayer! I must have been duped by one of the trailers... Man. I'm deflated...



Megumi said:

Just don't play this game with younger siblings...done it before with other multiplayer games...always ends up in fights. lol



Kirbybrawl said:

If this had online multiplayer id actually be able to play with friends. Even if the characters appeared as ghosts like in mario kart to see who beats the stage faster and gets the highest score being live



SanderEvers said:

I've played it (with 3 others) at the Dutch first look event. And I know this game will be awesome multiplayer fun!

And to the "no online"-whiners I have one thing to say, this wouldn't look good online. You want to see the others' faces when you grab that power-up first or are the first to get to the flagpost. And even working together would be difficult online.



unrandomsam said:

They should charge half price for half the game (Like they are going to do with Wii U Sports). Otherwise the only thing that will make me buy it is if most reviewers complain about the difficulty being too hard.



nasachi said:


game looks so charming with such an attention to detail only Nintendo-games do have, you simply don't get this from Activision, Naughty Dog or EA



SanderEvers said:

@unrandomsam If you don't there is no point in playing it multiplayer. As it's not a fun experience with each other anymore.

A game should be balanced between difficult and entertaining. And a Mario game shouldn't be impossible to beat. I do, however, love how New Super Luigi U is a lot more difficult than New Super Mario Bros U, which I also find quite challenging. (More so than New Super Mario Bros 2 or Super Mario 3D Land which I both finished)



Yosher said:

I'll surely love the multiplayer aspect of the game, but it'll always be an eternal shame that Nintendo isn't embracing online play like they should sometimes. I've got some great friends across the ocean, and I can't play these games with them.



GreatPlayer said:

@unrandomsam Yeah! Every games should have the difficulty of Mario U and Luigi U so that (1) they get good reviews from reviewers and that (2) gamers finish the game earlier and pay for another game faster. People keep saying that Luigi U is a hard game (really?). See how extraordinarily high the rating of these two games are.



SanderEvers said:

Putting online play in a Mario game would ruin it.

Like putting offline play in an MMORPG ruins that kind of game.

There has never been a Mario platform game that uses online play. And believe me, Nintendo could do it. Sure. The Wii U, or even 3DS, would be able to support it. But they shouldn't. Online play is fun for games like Smash Bros, Mario Kart or Pokemon. Nor for Mario or Zelda.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@unrandomsam Apparently, some of the later stages (not sure how far they got in this preview) were more than hard enough that screwing around got them a game over (despite having a lot of lives). They tried to work together afterwards and still failed.

This is with two people and in a 3D space. It's only going to get more ridiculous with more people.



astros75 said:

Great article, made me laugh a number of times as I pictured similar results happening when I play with my family. Very excited to play this and Link Between Worlds



unrandomsam said:

@Ernest_The_Crab There is also if I do get it and I have played the single player so know the levels and the controls there is no way for me to have a fair game. (The people I know who are my age only play Zelda nothing else or don't play Nintendo). Winning when I have a major advantage is not something that interests me. (Even if everyone had never played it before me having played 3D Land is quite an advantage). In a shared house with 4 people all playing it and getting half decent at it then it would be more than likely be really good.



RawkHawk013 said:

I, one of those skeptical at first, after hearing and seeing all that has been released/said about this game, am EXTREMELY excited to enjoy the madness and amazing-ness of Super Mario 3D World!!



element187 said:

@IxnayontheCK it would be great if this was a launch title, but sometimes games aren't ready when you want to launch a console.... Nintendo has never been one to just slap a game together and ship it to meet some arbitrary release date.. They are not EA.

I think Nintendo will have a stellar holiday this year. Think about it. The Wii U library will have many interesting games (W101, Pikmin 3, WWHD, SM3DW) on the shelf. But there isn't a single PS4 or xBone launch game I'm interested in. I guess people who care about graphics more than a great gaming experience will buy a PS4/xBone, but with so few new or interesting titles, why would someone buy these systems? Why not wait a year to allow the library to get something interesting.

The people buying the xBone and PS4 on launch day are like the suckers who bought the Wii U at launch (I was a sucker)....

"Yay I have the latest and greatest system...... but uhh, I have nothing I want to play on it "

That's why I think Nintendo will have an excellent holiday. Plus being cheaper, more parents will elect to get little Johnny a Wii au instead "I know Johnny wants a PS4, but our Xmas budget is tight this year, we will have to compromise a little"



Gold said:

This made me laugh, and maybe I will leave behind my friend... Shh... Don't tell him.



Slayer said:

Not bad at all. Nintendo is pretty good. I never much got full enjoyment out of my Mario games, maybe because I'm usually the guy playing single player.



Sir_Deadly said:

Correct me if i am wrong but wouldnt this be the first mario game where Peach isnt the princess that us captured?



Pit-Stain said:

I remember these days in NSMB Wii where I used to hold my brother and throw him in lava! XD I hope it's possible to do it here!



Mallard said:

Does anyone know if you need a wii motion plus? I only have normal wii remotes.



andreoni79 said:

I'm 99,9% sure that we'll be fine with normal wiimotes: it seems there's no use of motion controls, but nunchuck will surely help with his analogue stick and Z button.



SneakyStyle said:

Long but that was a great laugh to read, shall be great to get my hands on this with some friends. xD



Araknie said:

@MadAussieBloke It's the best multiplayer Mario ever seen and you tell by looking at the videos if you don't believe the article.

He can post in any article if he wishes, even if he doesn't like said game. There is no rule against this. If you feel like there's a problem, simply report it next time. -Lz



MAB said:

They really should have implemented online multiplayer into this as it would shift alot of systems just for a feature like that alone... Missed opportunity unfortunately



Kirk said:

I sooo wanna play this game.

I don't have a Wii U but this is the kind of game that makes me want one.

Unfortunately it's still not enough for me to buy a system.



startropics3 said:

Don't stop at online, they should also charge for DLC and make it free-to-play. And why not add an achievement system with a false sense of accomplishment? I mean, every other game I own has these amazing new features. They really missed the opportunity to have time-sensitive maneuvers be hindered by internet latency issues. Man, Nintendo... such a shame indeed. Get with the times and make a proper Call of Duty game for the masses. I really am upset that I can't use a keyboard and microphone with this game. Missed the mark again, Nintendo.



MAB said:

Yeah, it's almost 2014 not 1998 anymore... They're doing it with Wii Sports Club so why not make a awesome online Mario for crying out loud



luke17 said:

Won't be able to enjoy the multiplayer experience because it doesn't include online play. Thanks Nintendo!



luke17 said:

I'm a 28 year old med student. Very little time, and my fiance doesn't play video games...nor do any of my friends. Nintendo deserves to continue losing profit until they wake up and realize the internet exists.



oreqano said:

I think the outcry for online multiplayer is a little overblown. Not to say I think its wrong to want it. But the developers designed this way on purpose. So if online multiplayer is the only thing you buy games for, this game is not for you. I see no reason to be so sour about it. To put into perspective, I thought Super Mario 3D Land was great. It also could have had any multiplayer, but it didn't. I don't remember the complaints on that.



oreqano said:

I personally don't believe online would 'ruin' anything. But I can also see their side. if they design a game around everybody's personal situation like, (I dont have time, or I have no friends that play) then you get the cheap phone games.



startropics3 said:

Similar situation here. My wife didn't grow up with video games, and I just finished grad school. It's definitely an act of delayed gratification, but you know all about that.

As for the existence of the internet, I assume that Nintendo has higher standards than the internet can provide at this time. I know there are exceptions, but they likely don't want to rely on a factor for which they have little control. I'm not excusing their perfectionist behavior, but I appreciate their restraint with adding features that wouldn't improve the core experience.



FJOJR said:

My sister and I will be going through this. I know that I am a better player than her so we usually have a team mentality so the crown will not affect us. It's basically survive to the finish line whoever gets there alive.



Mortenb said:

This looks like it's going to be the best game that came out the last 10 years. The Next Generation of Gaming starts 22th Nov 2013, mark my words.



GamerJunkie said:

This is the only game I am interested in from any that are close to being out.

Sonic looks like crap. The sonic and mario olympics seems limited only 8 events, but mario 3D looks great!



GamerJunkie said:

@Mortenb not quite. It just looks like a good game on Wii U which is very rare and exciting! The next gen of gaming opens when PS4 comes out and then xbox 1 and steam machines. Wii U is not joining them unfortunately, its more like in the middle of last gen and next gen..........

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...