Last Sunday night, at around 10pm I not only beat Super Mario 3D Land. Not only did I beat the game but I completed the entire game, finishing all the stages in the eight regular and special worlds, collecting all the three star metals in each stage. All that done in under a week of getting the game, a feat that I have not been able to do since High School or possibly college when Portal 2.
Looking back on the game I can confidently say that it was one of the one of most fun I had with a game in ages and it was the type of fun that had multiple layers.
It was fun because it was my first proper 3D Mario game since Mario Sunshine on the Gamecube so there was fun to be had playing a 3D platformer, hearing the iconic Mario voice actor hoo-ing and ha-ing, collecting fire flowers and 1 ups, jumping on Goombas and defeating Bowser over and over again.
It was fun because it was challenging and tough to collect the three Star Medals for each stage. Everyone’s favorite Nintendo joke is that Nintendo games are for children and casuals but this game, and from what I seen from the Let Play’s runs of New Super Mario Bros Wii and U it looks like Nintendo is trying to change that with the special stages with the introduction of extremely limited timed runs and the introduction of Cosmic Mario Clone, a harmful NPC that follows you around move for move throughout the entire stage. OR the unholy marriage of both in some of the later special stages.
Even the inclusion of the Tanooki suit’s flutter kick and multiple hit windows was good in a pinch but the some levels still have little to no room or errors. Towards the final few stages I was sweating and getting the on edge feeling that I would get with any of the best pixel perfect indie platformer.
It was fun from a game designer point of view. I mentioned this last week when I only made my way through the first few worlds but the level layout is amazing. Super Mario 3D Land it follows classic level design where if you find yourself in a symmetrical room and you are supposed to go right to complete the stage you can bet that going left will give you a reward and it constantly give nods to the classics, like the pixel art stage in World 2 stage 3 or World 5 stage 2 that is homage to the Legend of Zelda series that starts with Mario in a dungeon with a fixed top down perspective just like the old Zelda games.
If you enter a stage with a new game mechanic the game will show you what the mechanic is and how to use it without wrestling the controls away from you with cut scenes or game tutorials. A perfect example that comes to mind is the 30 second timed trials I mentioned earlier, there are some stages that are littered with the stopwatches collectables that extends your limited timer but some stages only gives you the stop watch collectible if you defeat a certain type of enemy and whether it be goombas or Hammer Bros. the game tells you so by dropping yourself on one of those enemies at the start of the stage so you know exactly what you need to do in order to successfully from one end the other without running out of time
And most importantly the game is fun because now I can hand the game cartridge to my younger brother issuing him the same challenge of 100% the game in the just one week.
I also want to take this time to say thank you to Nintendo for implementing the streetpass feature to this game without applying an annoying and restricting DRM which they could have easily done and thank you for including multiple save files so I can give it to my brother and not having to worry about him overriding my completed file in his play through.
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