I was a big fan of Super Mario 3D World when it released on the Wii U. It successfully expanded on the formula established in 3D Land, blending fast-paced and frantic levels with other 3D Mario gameplay mechanics.
The game still holds up to this day on the Switch, but the other major part of this package is a standalone adventure called Bowser’s Fury. As I mentioned in my preview, this is entirely separate to 3D World except that it borrows power-ups from 3D world to offer something new and unique.
From a gameplay point of view, it sits closer to Super Mario Odyssey but takes the open-world idea further than previously seen in the Mario franchise. You’re dropped into Lake Lapcat alongside Bowser Jr, with the task of taking down Bowser. In the beginning, the world is relatively empty, with only a few islands to visit, but this quickly changes.
As you complete challenges that will give you Cat Shines, the islands will continue to change and expand. Each expansion opens up more challenges, with five cat shines available to collect on each island. As the game progresses further, new areas open up, and new islands are there to discover, which progress in difficulty. Overall, there are three or four main areas in the standalone game, each containing a handful of islands. Several challenges around the map aren’t apart of islands, which expands even further after completing the game.
By all definition, this is an open-world adventure and a fairly meaty one at that. A bit into the game (we weren’t able to show you in the preview), you get access to Plessie, who acts as your transport to get around this giant map. They’ll always be waiting for you in the water, so it’s a super convenient way to get around the map too.
Bowser’s Fury is similar to other 3D Mario games in the sense that you’re working towards collecting Cat Shines to go up against Bowser, which will unlock other areas in the game. Once you’ve hit a certain target, you’ll get the Giga Bell, which will allow you to take on Giant Bowser. This was fun the first time, but it’s definitely the weakest part of the game.
Having two giant characters on screen will make the camera much harder to work with, but it also gets super repetitive in the sense that you’re essentially performing the same battle over and over again without much change to the fight each time. It’s definitely a cool concept, and goes beyond the regular Mario boss battles, but doesn’t feel as polished as other areas of the game.
Bowser can also interrupt regular gameplay not only for the sake of a challenge but to open up new areas on the islands too. When you’re not dodging the flames that fall from the sky when he’s angry, you’ll be using both his fire breath and platforms he throws to access new areas. It’s a great mechanic that helps change the world of Bowser’s fury, creating a sense of urgency to get things done without totally being a nuisance.
Bowser’s Fury can also be played co-op with the other player taking control of Bowser Jr to help take down enemies and find paintings to unlock. Suppose you’re not playing with someone else. You can set how much Bowser Jr. will help you—using either the touchscreen or the gyro to point a cursor to have him attend to paintings to unlock power-ups.
This standalone adventure surprised and delighted me the whole way through and made me really excited about the future of Mario. The best parts of the game are the little things that it borrows from other games. I do not doubt that any Mario veteran or younger newcomers to the franchise will have an absolute ball with it.
Back to Super Mario 3D World, the game has aged superbly. It was not only one of the best games to launch on Wii U, but it’s the most fun that I’ve had with a Mario game, which still rings true. It’s an absolute ball to play with other people locally. I’m so glad that Nintendo has finally incorporated online to play with other people (especially with what’s going on in the world at the moment).
Everything from the cat power-up to the Tanooki suit is some of the best power-ups in any Mario game. The level design is classic Nintendo, with everything ramping up as the game goes on. If you’re a casual player wanting to breeze through the levels, you’re able to do that, but if you’re going to master each level, Nintendo has done a great job hiding some of those stars.
Nintendo has sped the game up, which helps for some of those earlier levels, where things were a little slow to kick off. The game feels much more frantic now, which is a good thing in the grand scheme of things. When it comes to visuals, everything looks a little crisper and smoother on the Switch than it did on the Wii U.
Even without Bowser’s Fury’s inclusion, there’s so much to do in mastering levels with all the different character playstyles. Not only in collecting all the stars and unlocking all the bonuses that come with finishing the game but also in going far beyond that.
This is, without doubt, a must own for any Switch owner, even if you’d already played Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is a fantastic package that showcases what makes Nintendo games so special. Super Mario 3D World is just as good as when it released, and Bower's Fury is a surprisingly good standalone adventure that paves the way for the future of Mario.