News Article

Preview: Super Mario 3D World

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A brave new world

Some things in life are unavoidable. Death, taxes, and disappointing Wii U sales in its first nine months of life. Nintendo has a plan for the rest of 2013, however, which is encouraging for its fans — we've had the enthusiast's favourite The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, and soon we'll have the return of styles and franchises that epitomised the appeal of the Wii, with Wii Sports Club, Wii Fit U and Wii Party U. In terms of a game that accommodates the desires of as many different Wii U owners — current and prospective — as possible, however, Super Mario 3D World could indeed hit the spot.

We've been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with this title recently, though can only discuss specific levels and worlds, but we will address one of the biggest questions right off the bat. Is this a compromise away from the extravagance and flair of the Super Mario Galaxy games? It's not as mind-bending, that's for sure, but a key point is that the experience of playing 3D World isn't as far from those Wii classics as many seem to think — conventions are more closely followed, but they're often accompanied with a playful twist, impeccable design and a burst of colour that makes them feel new. Super Mario 3D Land — this title's predecessor on 3DS — may be terrific in its own right and utilise the hardware brilliantly, but this Wii U entry adds new ingredients and home console flair that demonstrates the reasoning behind Nintendo's shift to this fresh wing of the Mario platforming fraternity.

The first two worlds of this title are surprisingly packed with such new ideas, yet remarkably don't feel overwhelming in any sense. Basic tips are given on key controls, but for the most part you're left to discover quirks, power-ups and moves for yourself. Tellingly, everything's based on the core mechanics of dashing and jumping, while crouching — and related moves such as the long jump — is an extra not particularly necessary in the early running; yet veterans will no doubt enjoy putting the move-set to the test. And there's a lot that 3D Mario fans will pick up, further decreasing the distance between this hybrid effort and the Galaxy titles. Favourite moves such as climbing trees to do a handstand flip off the top — so memorably introduced in Super Mario 64 — will raise smiles, and we also spotted plenty of references to the 2D classics of the NES and Super NES; for newcomers, these will simply be charming due to their design.

So in pleasing the eyes and ears, Super Mario 3D World is shaping up beautifully. It's a visual stunner, despite its modest file size, with gorgeous effects and lighting that take Mario graphics to an entirely new level, certainly showing greater flair than the 2D New Super Mario Bros. U. There are some attractive textures at work, with the art style — that we know is such a Nintendo strength — flourishing with powerful hardware, alongside a rock steady and terrifically fluid frame rate; the smooth performance also accentuates stylish new animations, such as a humorous gymnast's pose when landing from a high jump. There's also orchestrated music, much to our delight — whether this is performed by an orchestra or a skilfully executed 'synthetic' orchestra seems irrelevant when you can't always tell the difference. There are flashes of retro tracks, but the new themes are catchy, at times even jazzy, and perfectly suited to the action.

Moving beyond comparisons and presentation, there are a variety of formula tweaks that both shake up and adjust the experience to support this title's goal of satisfying both dedicated fans and including newcomers. For starters, the default running speed feels a little slower than normal, though the dash quickly gets the mascots up to speed; unlike 3D Land, there are actually three stages of running speed, as maintaining a dash beyond an initial second brings an additional — but subtle — boost. Throughout various areas there's also a sense that the environmental challenges support both steady, cautious progress or (as we rather preferred) madcap and instinctive sprints. Veterans may find they can blast through stages in a few minutes, though that would be somewhat missing the point.

In our experience, and it speaks more to our natural instincts allying with clear intention from the development team, we found ourselves being constantly distracted off the default path. There are green stars as the primary collectibles, alongside one stamp in each stage; the stamps are an extra that go into a collection and will be available for inclusion in Miiverse posts, and while both sets of goodies are sometimes clearly on display and necessitating trickery to reach, some are nicely hidden. Clambering up walls with the Cat power up — which is instinctive and delightful to use — exploring suspicious areas and checking the edges of the worlds may reward you with these or simply a few coins, but it encourages a basic child-like instinct to explore, no matter the age of the player.

The Wii U GamePad has also been used with admirable restraint, with additional features mostly adding to the gameplay in our time with it to date. Somewhat in contrast to New Super Mario Bros. U, we actually recommend that the strongest player adopts the controller in multiplayer sessions, while in single player its mechanics will offer an extra degree of challenge. In many levels the touch screen is an assist tool to reveal, collect and break blocks and coins, freeze enemies and simply mess around with a floating Mario hand to trace a pattern in sand. But this is all multi-tasking, as you're still responsible for your character.

And, while sounding like a challenge, it works. On some occasions you interact with key parts of the world and, for short spells, your eyes may temporarily be instinctively be drawn to play on the GamePad's screen. Allowing for the fact that, on occasion, player one has more to do than simply run and jump, the uses don't feel gimmicky — we can't give too many specifics — but rather like natural inclusions to utilise the hardware.

Our time with the title also gives us much encouragement that this experience will stack up both in single and multiplayer. In the former option, the sense of exploration is accentuated by clever, playful and often exceptional level design when playing alone. There are multiple new items introduced early on that perfectly suit the 3D engine — the Double Cherry introduces clones that you also control, leading to anarchy and some tricky manoeuvring, the Handheld Piranha Plant brings destruction to enemies on your path (while also tripping up colleagues), and the positively dangerous Cannon box, which fires projectiles at short intervals or, if you charge using the dash button, a powerful cannon. All are terrific fun, and the latter two's ability to actually disrupt and — in the case of the cannon box — damage coop partners add a fresh sense of chaos. Returning favourites such as the Tanooki Suit and Giant Mushroom are as enjoyable as ever.

It's in the drop-in multiplayer where Nintendo may have finally hit the golden formula to enable families and friends to play together without irrevocable damage to relationships. There's the madness of the 2D titles, but with much more space, while each character's strengths play into different play styles — Mario is the all-rounder, Luigi has his higher flutter jump, Toad is faster than the rest and Peach is the most manageable, with her ability to float sure to be invaluable. How people play together is also, in a twist with a hint of mischief, up for debate. While various mechanics are off the table to be discussed at this stage, the presence of a crown for the top players tells you all you need to know in terms of how the game tests your willingness to work together, alongside the desire to have a small graphical garment on your head. It's amazing what a shiny incentive can do to a player's instincts.

Also, for the record, there's multiplayer controller support for the sideways Wii Remote, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Wii U Pro Controller and even the Classic Controller.

We can't go into intimate details, but we will say that this is a title that, perhaps more-so than the most recent Mario games, has elements of surprise in almost every stage. Some are subtle, while others smack you between the eyes — you learn to kick balls at enemies and at Bowser in that car as early as the first castle, Switch Scramble Circus is clever and cornea-burningly colourful, Shadow-Play Alley is exceptionally clever in its usage of — yep — shadows, and Double Cherry Pass leaves some secrets hidden for those that have the ability to accumulate and protect multiple clones. There's even, as the latest trailer shows, a neat feature introduced at the start of the second world where you can play levels alongside Mii Ghosts from players around the world. In terms of creativity and creating sheer joy in the experience, Nintendo seems to be bringing its A-game.

The greatest strength of Super Mario 3D World in its earliest stages is that, beyond everything else, it's outrageously fun. Whether being diverted in the quest for collectibles in single player, or dashing through the environments with others, there's a sense of multiple factors aligning beautifully. Nintendo's stated that it's seeking to make 3D Mario accessible for all, closing the gap — commercially, no doubt — between these adventures and the 2D equivalents; this could do just that, and we can't wait to see what the remainder of the title brings.

Check back on Nintendo Life in the coming days for a more personal recollection of the multiplayer madness in Super Mario 3D World.

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User Comments (93)



Shiryu said:

Can't wait, it's gonna be that Nintendo Xmas game you play on the TV in the holidays.



sinalefa said:

"Also, for the record, there's multiplayer controller support for the sideways Wii Remote, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Wii U Pro Controller and even the Classic Controller."

I love you Nintendo

"In terms of creativity and creating sheer joy in the experience, Nintendo seems to be bringing its A-game."

Oh yeah, I love you for that too.



rjejr said:

Does "classic controller" include the Classic PRO? After 6 years of Wii ownership I finally had to buy a Classic Pro just months after getting a Wii U.

Any word on length yet? I's my only concern, everything else seems awesome. I usually worry about difficulty - Donkey Kong and Sonic games always destroy me about half-way thru - but Sunshine and the Galaxy games were just right. Admittedly I never completed either 1 but I got to the ending credits which is good enough for me.



Moose_4 said:

I love Nintendo and never worry too much about what games look like.

But, the graphics are amazing.



Captain_Balko said:

I don't mean to be THAT guy, but I believe that it is referred to as a "Mega Mushroom", not a "Giant Mushroom"...



Jayvir said:

@Guitardude7 The triple jump is present in nearly every game. It was in Mario U, and Mario 3D Land allowed Luigi to use it. Chances are it's here as well.



idork99 said:

"It's in the drop-in multiplayer where Nintendo may have finally hit the golden formula to enable families and friends to play together without irrevocable damage to relationships."

When this game was first announced, I was not excited as I already had 3D Land on 3DS and wasn't really looking forward to playing this sort of game again on an HD system.

When the second trailer was introduced, I started gaining interest.

Now, after reading this article for the preview, I am very excited. Multiplayer is fun, yet, challenging on the 2D Mario Wii (U). But I think the 3D Worlds in this game are going to be perfectly suited for multiplayer mayhem! I can't wait!

(With this and A Link between Worlds releasing on the same day, I am going to be in gaming bliss this holiday )



rjejr said:

@sinalefa - Yeah, I can never figure out if "classic controller" means both or not. After the Pro released I don't see why anyone would buy the old one. though everybody always asks me why I bought a Wii Classic Pro when the Wii U Pro was already out.

$30 cheaper and it plays Wii and VC games is the answer.



Sceptic said:

Too bad it's at Nintendo's usual ripoff price.

I can't justify big bucks for this console at this point anymore and I see it announced for $90 here. (Yes my American friends, you have read correctly. Ninety bucks. That's the benefit of region lock for us in Europe. Thank you Nintendo).



AdanVC said:

"There's also orchestrated music" guys... this is it, Nintendo wins this holiday. Literally the most exciting thing that I LOVE in Mario games (especially in 3D Mario action games) apart from the gameplay and new stuff is the music, Koji Kondo top quality work as always for sure.



erv said:

I'm buying it even if they'd charge double.

This going to rock!



jedisquidward said:

Do you think this game will have unolckable characters? I hope so. Especially considering that the Characters in this game have different abilities. Wario wasn't put in NSMB Wii because all the characters had to be the same. I think they should have Nabbit, Wario, Walugi, and Rosalina.



Sceptic said:

@cookiex: That's great if you live in UK. Now if you don't, on the small chance that they do ship outside of UK you can add shipping and customs, which is about $40 all in all, so the $90 I'm offered in the shop still comes in about $10 cheaper.



Nintend0ro said:

Nice one!!! Wii U is getting some descent games this holiday season. Deus Ex, Batman A.O., COD Ghosts, Mario 3D World, AC Black Flag,... All looking good



hYdeks said:

I gotta say, this Christmas I'm gonna be playing alot of games on my Wii U! This is a pre-order ^-^



Jayvir said:

@Guitardude7 Just searched on Google and a lot of people say on various sites that he can, despite Mario not being able to. It could just be a chain of people spreading misinformation too. If that's the case, it wouldn't surprise me if the Triple Jump was absent from World too



BertoFlyingFox said:

All my buddies and I are ready for this game. The levels look beautiful, the power-ups are aplenty, and the Miiverse intigration is great.

I will be playing this and A Link Between Worlds for a good long while



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@rjejr "Nunchuk, Wii U Pro Controller and even the Classic Controller."

That being said, Thomas may have adjusted the article since the time he first posted.

I kept my Classic Pro for the same reasons you did (also cause I got it from Monster Hunter Tri). I think it doesn't work for certain games though, there was a short list somewhere but I can't seem to find it anymore that showed games that supported the Wii U Pro but not the classic controller.



johndevine said:

I dont give a toss about third parties on Wii U.

Bring it on Nintendo. The wii u is looking hot as hell for the next while in my opinion.

Smash bros
Donkey kong

Id say we will get starfox, fzero,metroid and earthbound sequels on this nintendo consoles life span.

Bring it on.

Cant wait for bayonetta 2



Samurai_Goroh said:

@Sceptic Dude, where are you from? Are you in the EU? There are no special customs taxes between EU countries and Amazon offers Free Super Saver Delivery, which means no shipping fee. The only thing you'll pay is the respective country VAT (not the UK's rate). For instance I'm from Portugal, I'm in the EU free market zone, Amazon charges me 23% of VAT, which is higher than the UK rate I guess, but with free delivery and all, it's still pretty much worth it for most cases.



gage_wolf said:

As a kid, in between marathon sessions of Super Mario Bros. 3, I would daydream about what Super Mario Bros. would look like in the future (like way in the future when stuff would eventually be "3D"), and this game is shaping up to be that daydream. I love all the 3D Mario entries, but this one feels the most like an actual continuation or sequel to the glory days of Super Mario 1,2,3 and Super Mario World. The art direction, the graphic capabilities (finally looking like the promo art), and the wackiness. Super STOKED.



unrandomsam said:

Needs loads more instadeath. (Somewhere in between the first and the lost levels.) Hate collecting stuff. (Donkey Kong Country Returns being the only real recent exception because its so good and you know you have mastered it when you get all the pieces on a level and its very difficult to just get lucky so many times).



ACK said:

@rjejr The two controllers are completely interchangeable. For what it's worth, I picked up a white Wii U Pro recently for under 20 at BestBuy. Even with the CC Pro, I'd highly recommend one.

Also, it may surprise you, but I know many Wii owners who will only use the true classic controller... I think that's because it hearkens back to the golden SNES era.



NintyMan said:

This is fun to read. The game is going to be THE Nintendo game to get this Christmas. Game of the Year for me, and hopefully NL will agree!

Fun? Check. Orchestrated music with a slice of jazz? Check. Every Wii and Wii U controller supported? Check. I'd keep checking, but it would be a long list and this game already sounds set to be played.



ACK said:

@Ernest_The_Crab Pretty sure AC3, Darksiders, Injustice, NBA2K13, Madden 13, Mass Effect 3 and Ninja Gaiden 3 all launched without CC Pro support.



Sceptic said:

@Samurai_Goroh: Yep, Europe but not in the EU.

I'll be getting it somewhere if local multiplayer is decent. It seems it will be the Nintendo game to have.



Goginho said:

Well, I don't expect any less from this gem
I can tell it's a definite 9.5 at the very least. The only little nitpick from my side, although an aspect which I can generally praise and look respectively upon, as it opens up for more inexperienced players, is the mention of how not all the movesets are necessary in order to progress.

I understand not everybody can master the long jump or the wall kicks, but I remember the good times of playing 64, and how some areas actually required some jumping mastery in order to move along and, basically, beat the game.
A great example is Tall Tall Mountain, near the very beginning, there is a giant gap, which leads to a lower area with a dead end ..I'm sure many know this This part required one of the three major "extra" movesets. Wall jump up along the walls of the gap, long jump — or triple jump across the gap.
It was quite satisfying for me, as a kid, failing many times to get across sections like these, and then eventually being able to make it and get better and better until 9 out of 10 times my confidence doesn't fail me.
lol I know all this may sound a bit absurd, but we got these awesome, great moves the characters can perform, and yet, it's a shame that you can beat the game without ever having to put them to use, especially with the abundance of power-ups (some pretty powerful ones at that), which have us flying, gliding, hovering, scampering up walls and what not.
Oh well, this is nonetheless the perfect game for the end of 2013, and for gamers ranging from both ends of the spectrum and anywhere in between.

That being said, I hope the next Mario game will give his moveset some more spotlight (Galaxy did it, wall jumps were necessary there ..frozen twin waterfall Star), and have gamers mastering everything from the triple jump, to long jump, to the wall kicks again



DerpSandwich said:

"...disappointing Wii U sales in its first nine months of life..."

Aren't we closing in on a year now?



JaredJ said:

if I'm playing single player can I use the Pro Controller or does single player have to use the gamepad?



unrandomsam said:

@Goginho Dunno how you could give something a 9.5 when it will be really easy. Basically zero effort to make it challenging for everybody. Compared to the effort of making the game at all.

(Remove some of the platforms for normal and most of the power ups (Certainly the invincible thing) - hard remove even more power ups and make it so you always go small if you get hit - very hard remove even more platforms).

I would always take too hard over too easy.



Gioku said:

I really want to play this game with my little sister...! The use of the Gamepad sounds awesome! ...but I need a WiiU first. I'm pushing this as what I want for Christmas!



Goginho said:

@unrandomsam Well, the 9.5 is not based on difficulty, as I do not know whether the whole entire game will be "easy" or not. It might have some special worlds, bonus levels like previous Mario titles..hmm (ahem* Galaxy; Green Stars, Perfect Run, Boss Rush...etc.)
The 9.5 I have given is obviously not official. The 9.5 is based off of how crisp and polished the game looks, as well as how fun the gameplay looks imo..
And those platforms and power-ups that you so badly wish to remove, in order to amp up the difficulty, most likely reinforce the fun factor of the game. I want to be jumping on platforms of all kinds, and I want to be jumping on them with different power-ups. This adds variety and replay value in a simple platforming game, because a player can come back and try different ways of traversing these platforms.

Why remove the "invicible thing" I don't understand? Does it appear when you play?
When the white Tanooki block appears, that usually means you need it I don't see the point in removing it if one is good enough for it to not have appear.

You can make this game "too hard" for you if you wish. You can speedrun it. You can find different ways of tackling it, I suggest. I dunno, be creative.

One hundred effort to make it fun for everybody (presumably)



Kirk said:

It's great to see all the best bits of the 2D and 3D Mario games finally coming together.

I really want to play this.



Giygas_95 said:

Resisting buying this on day 1 will be hard indeed. I need to just wait for Christmas...



GTWarrior77 said:

@ThomasBW84 - The preview mentions support for the Wii U Pro Controller in multiplayer. Can we use the pro controller during the single player campaigne? I do hope so.



JaxonH said:

Wii U Pro Controller support. That's all I needed to hear (love the gamepad, but for platformers I prefer the Pro, with the exception of Rayman Legends of course)



MasterBlue said:

This is no doubt going to be one of the best 3D Mario Games to be released! It really is amazing how small the game is in terms of file size and the game still looks beautiful and vibrant. Can't wait to see what type of amazing levels Nintendo will be able to come up with later in the game with some of the newer items!



rjejr said:

@ACK - I guess I can see people liking the original clssic for nostalgia reasons, but I cant imagine myself ever going back to anything resembling my stick-on-a-box Atari controller.

Though since my Wii U is in the shop maybe I should go hook-up the ole 7800. Its buried in its box in my basement somewhere.



Yoshis_VGM said:

It's amazing how much this game has changed since E3...I wonder if Nintendo did that on purpose. Show a somewhat mediocre yet fun 3D Mario at E3, and then blow the cap off of the rest of the development details a few months later. If that truly was their plan, it worked. I'm so psyched for this game and I can't wait for my copy to get here.



LztheQuack said:

@Sceptic You're also basing your argument on something Nintendo doesn't control. The dollar is weak as heck and the Euro is strong.



Kicked2TheKirb said:

@jedisquidward I would lose my poopiedoodles if they hid Wario in this game. that would be awesome! wow thats an awesome idea!!! i hope they thought of that. Is it just me or does Wario need a Wario World 2 for wii u ?
Watch the profanity please — TBD



Ralizah said:

If Nintendo pulls this off effectively, it'll go a long way toward selling me on the Wii U. Hopefully the Wii U will become another must-have system like the 3DS has become.



Samus06 said:

Would I be correct in assuming that since the multiplayer supports the Wii remote/nunchuk, Wii U pro controller, and classic controller that the single player will also be supporting all these controller options? I really hope so.



ThomasBW84 said:

Hey guys,

On the Classic Controller thing, the normal and the Pro are really the same, just different shells so, yes, it supports the classic controller pro

There are plenty of rules about what we can say, so I'm sorry I can't answer many Qs. The preview text reveals as much as we're allowed at the moment, but I'm sure Nintendo will be teasing us with plenty of info too!



Raylax said:

Normal and Pro classic controllers are identical under the chassis (aside the button spacing etc) and interface with the console in the same way, so if it's compatible with one, it's compatible with both

Edit: Ninja'd by Thomas



EaZy_T said:

I'm wondering just what the 'Mii ghosts' are. Recordings of other players, or true online multi-player?



andreoni79 said:

My birthday is November 26! C'mon Nintendo, release it worldwide in that date, I'm sure american players can wait...
(meanwhile I ordered NSMBU on Euronics online: €19.90!)




While Mario is all well and good the Wii U has had the worst year of any Nintendo console ever!!
Sony has just announced they have 24 PS4 Exclusives and 14 award winning studio's working on them as well as over 180 games in development!!
The Wii U only has 70-80 games in development which is dire!!
Sony have shown Nintendo how to launch a console and with over 14 Exclusives first year compared to Nintendo's 5 is hillarious!!
Sorry but Nintendo had their year head start and blew it big time from the epic fail confusing name, cack launch,delay after delay and ridiculous price tag.
Fact is Nintendo stupidly rushed the Wii U in time for last Xmas when in reality they should have at least waited till at least after this years E3 to release it.



MaverickHunterX said:

Super Mario 3DWorld is my 2nd most anticipated game of the year, right behind TLoZ: A Link Between Worlds.



gatorboi352 said:

Yet another game that gives me absolutely no reason in the world to use the Gamepad. You know, that $150 device that took up every ounce of Nintendo's resources over the last 3 years and the whole reason why the system specs are gimped in comparison to the main competition?

Sorry, but I'm pretty bitter over the Wii U situation right now.



GTWarrior77 said:

@NEXTGENRULE - No doubt mistakes were made with the launch of the Wii U but just remember, the PS4 isn't out yet. I hope for your sake (and mine) that the PS4's launch goes as well as you are anticipating.

As far as Mario 3D World is concerned, I'm very excited. It feels like I'm back in the 80's waiting for a new Mario game to launch.



element187 said:

@FJOJR I hope the nunchuck support is exactly like the galaxy games..... I think I'm actually better at it than twin sticks for a Mario game... The precision I feel I have with the Wiimote/chuk is stellar for Mario and FPS



element187 said:

@Sceptic wait, so you are blaming Nintendo because of the laws, taxes and regulations your country voted for? Come on, Nintendo sells all of their games and systems roughly for the same price they expect to receive everywhere, the only reason prices appear different is because of local, state and federal policies differ from region to region and country and country... It's sounds like you are unhappy because Nintendo won't take a pay cut to compensate for the tolitarian laws, regulations and taxes you voted for.

Nintendo doesn't have control over the policies of the region you live in.... All I can say is voting has consequences. Europeans voted for higher taxes and duties, then become surprised that things cost more.

Reminds me of some of my fellow idiotic Americans who voted for our new health law and then become surprised that healthcare costs several times more now or are being dropped completely by their plan they liked "but but but I thought I was getting free healthcare and making the rich pay for it. Wahhhhh Obama promised me lower healthcare costs and keeping my doctor... Waahhhhhh I'll blame other people for my actions"



BlackStar9000 said:

@Peach64 looks like you will finally be able to make use of that avatar, I STILL want online multiplayer so i can game with my family (US Soldier) but I guess mario kart 8 and super smash bros 4 will fill that void....



AyatollaofRock said:

I must say the WiiU is a much more attractive proposition with this game. The case is mounting for a purchase.



Gamercake said:

This game clearly seems like one of the best games this year and, to be honest, it looks far superior to anything on the PS4 or Xbone. I think this will turn out to be a great year for the Wii U.

Initially, I wasn't too impressed with this game. The E3 trailer was dull and boring, and the game seemed like a lazy effort to bring 3D Land to the Wii U, but now after some incredible new footage and info, I've got a feeling that this just might beat Galaxy.

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