Super Mario 3D Land is the newest Mario game that Nintendo has churned out, and the first for the Nintendo 3DS. Released in late 2011, it is the first Mario game to go fully 3D (and not the 2.5D that console Mario games since Super Mario 64 have been doing).
Yawn. It's the typical SMB plot: that mean ol' Bowser dude has kidnapped Princess Peach again. For reasons unknown, again. And of course, it's down to a plumber - namely Mario - to save her. Again. It's the same thing that has been happening in pretty much every other Mario game (with the exception of Super Mario Bros. 2, but that's a statistical anomaly IMO). Again, the game has borrowed elements from previous games in the series and tried to introduce something new and impressive. Here, it's borrowed the idea of eight worlds, each with a small amount of stages within. It's also borrowed the power-ups Super Leaf and Fire Flower, turning Mario into Raccoon Mario and Fire Mario respectively. It's borrowed the entire plot, Koopalings, and all the old enemies that made Mario so popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
It's in glasses-free 3D. 'Nuff said.
Okay, that's an unfair statement. Nintendo have made some kind of effort to keep the franchise fresh and appealing to younger audiences. Mario now has a Boomerang powerup. 'Nuff said.
Okay, serious now. There really isn't much that is new and really interesting about this game. It's all old stuff, remixed and re-hyped. A lot of the changes are actually quite annoying. Raccoon Mario has been nerfed from his awesomeness back in SMB3: he wears the full Tanooki suit, but he can't fly or turn into stone. He can only tail-whip and float. Fire Mario hasn't changed, save the fact that he can now fire in more than two directions (i.e. forwards and backwards).
The negative changes - and there are a few of them - seem to be aimed at kids. Or, at the very least, certainly not at gamers. Mario starts as Super Mario after losing a life, not as regular Mario, automatically giving the player a chance to be hit and get away with it. If one level is failed several times in a row, a block appears with a P-Wing or an Invincibility Leaf (same as a Super Leaf, but offers invincibility throughout the whole level). 1-Ups are everywhere: I have 87 extra lives and I've lost something like ten. I shouldn't even be alive. Can you say "patronising"?
I'm warning you, Nintendo, I'm not holding back.
- Graphics: 8/10 Yep. I'll give it credit for this. Much lower resolution than a console, but the game does what it can.
- Sound: 7/10 Grates on you after a while. However, its chirpy optimism (staple in Mario games) is a good break from modern FPS games.
- Lastability: 3/10 I'm in world 7 (out of, presumably, 8) after only about four play hours, and I am by no means speedrunning. The levels are pretty damn easy, and it's even easier for Mario veterans to 100% the thing. Annoyingly easy, especially when combined with the Assist Blocks.
- Playability: 4/10 Annoyingly easy, as I said before. The last great Mario game to offer a decent challenge was SMB3, and while Nintendo have tried to go back to that era with the Tanooki Suit, it hasn't worked.
- Plot: 3/10 Standard Mario plot. Don't know it? My my, we're a happy little ostrich, aren't we?
- Overall: 5/10 I'm sorry folks, but this is nothing more than a timekiller. It'll never make it to SMB3 standards. In fact, it ranks below about two-thirds of the Mario games in the main series, simply because of the level of condescension Nintendo have put into the game. Hell, games are supposed to be challenging, not handed to you on a silver platter! Where's the fun if there's no learning curve? Still, I'll give it the fact that it's a nice, positive and upbeat timekiller. As I said, it's a nice break from the world of FPS games where the main idea is to kill as many zombies as possible in as little light as possible. There's no pressure, so it's just like playing a sports game.
Addendum: Looks like it's got a fairly large postgame. Still too easy.