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Super Mario 3D Land

by Aaron Kaluszka - September 15, 2011, 2:52 am PDT
Total comments: 10

It's like Mario's entire platforming history got put in a blender.

Super Mario 3D Land is shaping up to be a great addition to the long-running Mario series. The game combines bits and pieces of many previous games, both 2D and 3D, while taking advantage of the 3DS's stereoscopic capabilities. Nintendo gave me the chance to play through the first world of the game.

The game combines some of the best aspects of the 2D and 3D series. For instance, Fire Flowers act as real power-ups as in the 2D games, but unlike those found in the Galaxy titles. Super Mario 3D Land takes many cues from Super Mario Bros. 3, including the return of the leaf power-up. The soundtrack also includes remixes from that game as well as sound-alike tracks, similar to those in New Super Mario Bros. The original Super Mario Bros. also lends a heavy influence, such as the return of the end-of-stage flagpoles and even coin heaven, yet Mario now has all his tricks from the 3D games.

One new item is a set of gyroscope-controlled binoculars that let you look deep into stages to help you plan for what's to come, as well as providing a different perspective on the level. Toad even rewarded me for exploring the level, dropping off extra coins after I zoomed in on him. Managing perspective and the stereoscopic effect isn't strictly necessary for clearing levels, but they're pretty important for uncovering medals and other hidden items.

There are also enemies old and new. While the staple Goombas and Koopas return, there are modified enemies like Tanoombas and Piranha Plants that spit black ink onto your screen. There are also new enemies, such as insects and tiny dragons that reminded me of Tamagon from Devil World. The first Bowser has a Tanooki tail -- but you can't grab it; it's spiked. In a throw-back to the original SMB, you must defeat Bowser by casually walking by him and knocking out his bridge. When you do, "Bowser" reveals himself as an imposter Goomba with a leaf. It seems many enemies are now capable of gaining Tanooki powers.

Perhaps to alleviate some of the problems with control on the 3DS, levels in Super Mario 3D Land, or at least the early levels that I played, feature relatively linear segments. There are plenty of secrets to be found by straying a bit off the path and checking every nook and cranny -- with many hidden by perspective and optical illusions. Control works reasonably well on these straight portions, but becomes more difficult when floating through 3D space with the Tanooki suit. The Circle Pad is simply too imprecise compared to a regular control stick.

Levels primarily go in one direction, but that isn't limited from left to right or even back to front. One level I played was directed downwards in some of the most striking stereoscopic 3D visuals I've seen on the system. The guy playing next to me was actually getting vertigo from it. The effect definitely does make dropping down more dramatic.

Miyamoto has been talking about trying to bring in those apprehensive with the 3D games. In my experience, new players have an easier time exploring an open space than trying to keep steady down narrow paths. Since levels in Super Mario 3D Land switch orientations and directions frequently, I don't think Nintendo is going to be very successful here, even with the 3d-but-nearly-2D design.

With the game now nearing completion, the Warp Zone in World 1-2 (which we discovered in the E3 demo) now leads directly to World 2. The first world was completely linear and contained four main stages, Bowser's castle, and a Mushroom House. Stages are unlocked by collecting medals. Sadly, Nintendo wouldn't let us take a peek inside the house. The map was laid out similarly to Super Mario Galaxy 2, with 3D representations of the levels placed in a line.

It really feels like Nintendo's having a lot of fun designing this game, taking what's worked well in the past and seeing how many new ideas they can combine. The game takes heavy cues from the 2D games, while using 3D effectively. While I was apprehensive after the first time I played it, now I can't wait to see more.


Fatty The HuttSeptember 15, 2011

what's going on on the bottom screen in those screenshots? are there things you can/need to do with the touch screen?

Well, you've got an item in reserve (like New Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario World). You have to be a bit careful about using them since the item pops out in front of where you're standing (so don't throw it off the edge of a cliff). The buttons that look like N64 C buttons allow you to change the angle of the camera slightly to get a different perspective.

KDR_11kSeptember 15, 2011

So it has 2D stages. Now they just need to cut out the 3D ones and it will be a mega seller.

The screenshots indicate at least one, but I didn't play any strictly 2D stages. More like 2.75D or something.

I declared this game my Game of the Year in the staff AIM chat during the press conference, and this validates that.

house3136September 15, 2011

After seeing the newly released gameplay videos, and the Iwata and Miyamoto interview, it’s interesting to see how they have taken advantage of the 3D element. Using optical illusions like perspective with the box suspended in air, means you practically have to play it in 3D. One of the, I guess you could say, complaints early on, was that the 3D didn’t change or influence the gameplay of games. I suppose if anyone is going to set a precedent on the 3DS, it would be Nintendo and Mario. I’m very interested to see what other tricks they will pull utilizing literal 3D environments. In SMB3 when Mario would duck down on the white platform and then fall behind the scenery, I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that were employed in SM3D Land. Even Mr. Aonuma hinted that an upcoming Zelda title on the 3DS would be developed using 3D in interesting ways. It’s encouraging to see that Nintendo seems to know how to enhance gameplay with this technology. I guess we’ll just have to wait and/to see.

DEDwyer64September 15, 2011

Looks Great!
Can't Wait!


I just rhymed... ;D

AVSeptember 15, 2011

I hope they let you control mario with either the circle pad or control pad, that way 2d areas can feel natural and easy to switch between controls.

The D-pad works the same as the "C" buttons on the touch screen -- camera tilting. There was no control customization in the version I played.

DEDwyer64September 19, 2011

SOOOOOOOO excited for this game!  ;D

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Game Profile

Super Mario 3D Land Box Art

Genre Adventure
Developer Nintendo

Worldwide Releases

na: Super Mario 3D Land
Release Nov 13, 2011
jpn: Super Mario 3D Land
Release Nov 03, 2011
RatingAll Ages
eu: Super Mario 3D Land
Release Nov 18, 2011
aus: Super Mario 3D Land
Release Nov 24, 2011

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