Super Mario 3D World was one of my favourite Wii U games and is one of the best Mario games of all time. It perfectly blended the power-ups that made the 2D Mario games so good with 3D Mario mechanics and added in co-op to provide the most dynamic Mario experience yet.
Most of you are going to want to know about Bowser’s Fury, and that was the first thing I jumped into. I can only tell you about the earlier stages at the moment but it’s certainly a unique, yet classic Mario experience. Whilst this is apart of the 3D World package, it does feel like it falls somewhere between Odyssey and 3D World from a gameplay point of view, utilising the power-ups from 3D World but borrowing the map functionality from Odyssey.
You’re quickly unleashed into Lake Lapcat with Bowser Jr by your side. It’s immediately obvious that this is more of an open-world Mario experience, with the map absolutely dwarfing one of Odyssey’s levels in size. The levels each have five Cat Shines to complete, which can range anywhere from reaching the top of a tower, to collecting blue coins, to chasing Luigi’s shadow and finding five cat tokens.
Interestingly enough, the levels (or islands) feel closest to Galaxy in the sense that they’re ever changing and evolving as you collect Cat Shines, opening up new areas or missions for you to complete. You’re free to jump from island to collect Cat Shines or stay on one and finish it completely before moving onto the next.
Everything seems normal until Bowser shows up at randomised times. You’ll get a brief warning signaled by rain before he shows up to cause havoc. At this stage, you’re able to reach new areas thanks to Bowser’s blast or blocks that he drops, or you can just carry on trying to collect a Cat Shine which will make him disappear (dying will also achieve this result). He will also randomly go away after a certain amount of time if you don’t do either of the two things.
The initial goal in the game is to collect five Cat Shines which will unlock the first Giga Bell and let you turn into Cat Mario before going head to head with Bowser. It’s certainly an interesting loop that hasn’t been seen in a Mario game before. I much prefer going from island to island, which all feel like completely separate levels, without actually having to enter a painting or having to select a level on a mini map.
When it comes to performance, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, constantly changing between a sun filled set of islands to a rainy, dreary looking world that is filled with rain effects both on Mario and the cast of enemies as well as the screen. The game does falter a little bit during the Bowser filled sequences, granted there is a lot happening, and the game does seem to be closer to 30FPS in handheld mode.
When you look at Super Mario 3D World and Bowser’s Fury as a whole, it actually feels like a weird package, because whilst the experiences share so many similarities, they’re really different. It’s actually a great taste at what a fully open-world Mario game could look like in the same way that Breath of the Wild re-invented the Zelda franchise.
Speaking to 3D World, it’s still a fantastic game and holds up brilliantly today. If you haven’t played it, you’re in for a treat just for that experience alone. It looks a lot better on the Switch, and the game seemingly runs faster which makes for a snappier experience. I got to test out online multiplayer, which is a first for a Mario platformer, and it works fairly well. There were a few slight hiccups in connection, but nothing that ever caused a death. It’s set to be a great way to play this game, and I hope that Nintendo continue to include online in games going forward.
I can’t wait until I can say more about this package, Bowser’s Fury in particular. There’s a lot to love about this great little game right from the onset and it just shows that the Nintendo magic is still strong and is largely unmatched by other developers.