There was once a time when Nintendo was not a household name. A kid is scoffed at after mentioning that they play Mario. “Isn’t Mario for little kids?,” says one. “Xbox is better,” says another. Alas, the poor kid was me in the 4th grade. The Wii U was Nintendo’s latest console and it had flopped horribly. I knew only one other kid at school that had it, and aside from them I was unable to relate to the other kids my age who played video games. All they were talking about was FIFA (ew) or the latest Call of Duty (yes, in fourth grade.) Alas, these were dark times. Shallow online shooters and yearly sports games seemed to hold the entirety of the gaming industry in their hands.
Super Smash Bros. and other Wii U games built with great care and of love scrounged for scraps amidst the populous gaming industry, only receiving a small portion of attention from the hardcore Nintendo fans and a few gaming publications. Unaware of the sickness of the platform we so loved, my brother and I were confused as to why nobody else was playing the amazing games we had gotten that Christmas. Was it because only the first graders played them? Were we really sticking to bland, boring kiddie games and refusing to move on?
I wish I could have told my young self that no, my taste was not poor and things would one day change. By the time I reached high school, the Switch was everywhere. Kids were playing it at lunch, on the bus, and of course, during class. It was cool to have a Nintendo system again! Anytime a new game was about to come out, everyone talked about it, and many new friendships were created thanks to a shared love for Smash Ultimate. Nintendo has been utilizing this newfound popularity of their newest system to make back money they lost on great content that had been released on an unpopular console.
Games like Mario Kart 8 that had previously sat near the bottom of their serie’s sales charts suddenly rose to the top (yes, it’s close to taking over Mario Kart Wii and becoming #1), while being showered in praise from all the gamers that missed out on it years prior. This has been the case for pretty much every title Nintendo has ported over so far (they’ve been sticking to the good ones.) However, for the past 3 or so years many have been confused as to why one of the best games hasn’t yet made the jump. Wouldn’t it sell well? It was one of the most popular games on the Wii U, after all…
What game is this? Why, it’s Super Mario 3D World, of course. It’s finally here for us to enjoy on the Switch, along with a whole new campaign, online play, and much more! Let’s get right into it.
When you boot up the game you are met with a title screen allowing you to choose between the two games: Super Mario 3D World or Bowser’s Fury. I’ll start with 3D world, as it is the bigger adventure content-wise. Super Mario 3D World is a direct sequel to Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS. Since it’s predecessor was on a handheld, 3D World is a bit unlike the other home console 3D Mario games when it comes to scope and ambition. Controls are relatively simple and restrictive, (aside from the Cat suit but we’ll talk about that later) and so is the level design (straight path from the start to finish.) However, this allowed for the developers to streamline the experience and bestow many different kinds of ideas and challenges upon the player, possibly more than any other Mario games, which are already well known for packing a ton of variety. Pretty much every level (of which there are over 80) uses new ideas, and doesn’t drag them out at all.
The linear structure also made it fit for multiplayer. On the Wii U version, 4 players (Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach) could join together for the entirety of the campaign, aside from the captain toad levels. On the Switch, however… it’s even better! The same 4 players can now join each other online, so you don’t have to get everyone over to have a great time. The captain toad levels have also been given 4-Player capabilities, so no more sitting out while your friend goes backpacking for green stars. Woohoo!
Unfortunately, although I haven’t tried online myself, from what I have heard it is pretty laggy and can make platforming difficult. This has been an issue with most Nintendo Switch titles, and is what most have come to expect at this point. I’ll just take another moment to call out Nintendo for using peer-to-peer connection (yes it’s this way for ALL Nintendo-owned games) rather than buying servers with the hundreds of millions they make each year from online memberships. With all the good that comes from Nintendo, it continues to baffle me how they still continue to flop online so hard when most other companies have been doing it great for almost TWO DECADES. Poor online by no means ruins the game – it’s just upsetting to encounter the same issues for the umpteenth time.
Moving onto Bowser’s Fury, I gotta hand it to Nintendo – this is better than I expected. And I was expecting a lot. The journey begins with an extremely short cutscene, showing Mario walking about the Mushroom Kingdom one day when he encounters some black goop on the ground, Super Mario Sunshine style. Upon investigating the mystery he falls into a hole created by the goop, which takes him to Lake Lapcat where Bowser Jr. explains that the substance has taken over his Father who has turned even angrier than usual, and asks for Mario’s help to return him to his regular form. Mario somewhat reluctantly agrees, showing some hilarious emotions never before seen from the character, which really helps keep things fresh from 3D World’s generic expressions.
In fact, Bowser’s Fury is essentially an entirely different experience from 3D World, sharing similarities only in a few reused assets and the general art style. Even Mario’s controls have changed – he now has the freedom of 360 degree movement, quite the upgrade from 3D World’s 8 possible directions a character can move in. The whole game takes on an open adventure format, with the largest single area Mario has ever been able to move around in as far as I can tell. The main goal in this mode is to collect “Cat Shines” free the “Giga Bells” which turn Mario ginormous and are used to fight bowser whenever he gets furious, which is about every 10 minutes or so. Although it might seem like it would get annoying when Bowser stops what you were doing by raining meteors and fire from the sky all of a sudden, it actually goes away pretty quickly as collecting a Cat Shine will cause light to appear that forces him away. If you ever do decide to fight him (which is needed to progress at certain parts of the game) you will find yourself in the midst of epic battles having the time of your life each and every time you take on the big guy.
Without spoiling much, I will say that there are a hundred of these Cat Shines in total and not all are needed to beat the game. If you do decide to just play through to the normal ending it will take about 3-4 hours, and 6-7 to if you want to collect everything. Times could vary more depending on how skilled you are. I myself have reached the 100% ending at the time of writing this (getting the game a day early helped with that – thanks Amazon) and it was a blast all the way through. It really felt like an experience I will remember fondly.
Finally, when it comes to moral/parental warnings, this is pretty much your typical Mario game. Cartoony violence, very fantasy-like magic and ghosts, and no microtransactions! Fury Bowser might be a bit scary for some little kids, but aside from that this would probably be one of the best purchases you could make if you wanted to have some fun with the kiddos. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun for adults. Most big video game fans know that Mario games are usually made for the biggest possible audience: everyone. Both games in this package do pack some considerably difficult challenges post-game – although more so in 3D World than Bowser’s Fury. The Cat Suit is also fun for veteran Mario players looking to complete things in a fast or flashy fashion. It’ll take a bit to get really good at the controls but once you do you’ll be having tons of fun.
To sum it all up, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is probably one of the best games you can get on the Nintendo Switch, even if you owned the original on the Wii U. It contains an impressive amount of new content compared to other Nintendo ports, – so much, in fact, that if the new content was it’s own game alone I’d say it would be worth around $20-30, at least to me.
Priestly comment by Fr. Samuel Beardslee:
“Super Mario 3D World is a masterclass of level design. This game is a well crafted box of toys that are sure to delight, and for those who want to challenge themselves, the game provides for that as well. Levels are often short, which allows for easy places to take breaks. Great game and clearly made with love.”
Scoring: 97% ⭐ (Excellent 3D Platformer/Couch Multiplayer game)
Gameplay: 4.5/5 (- 0.5 for poor online multiplayer)
Mild Cartoony violence. Fury Bowser might scare kids on the younger side.
Very fake and fantasy-like magic/ghosts.