Super Mario 3D World Switch Review

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It was only a matter of time before Super Mario 3D World would make its way to the Nintendo Switch. It’s the last of the iconic Mario games from the Wii U to make the leap.

While some may complain about Nintendo porting yet another old game to the Switch, you have to remember that not many played the game when it launched. The Wii U was not a successful console. It barely hit over 13 million units sold.

The Switch, on the other hand, already surpassed the 3DS in sales, with over 80 million units out. That’s a much bigger audience, and it’s paid off so far, with this port topping the sales in 2021.

Of course, it’s not a one-to-one port. There are a few improvements and changes to make up for the lack of the Wii U gamepad (a con or a pro, depending on who you ask). There’s also a brand new campaign, Bowser’s Fury, which single-handedly presents what Nintendo might do with future Mario games.

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Super Mario 3D World is back with the impressive level design.

Gameplay

Super Mario 3D World is the epitome of mixing 3D Mario gameplay with 2D Mario-level design. This means stages focus on a single theme or obstacle type. Every level presents the hurdles in a relatively safe environment before ramping up the difficulty and mixing things up.

Unlike the New Super Mario series, Super Mario 3D World does an amazing job in providing a new experience with each new level. Sure, there are still traditional themes like desert levels, snow levels, and ghost houses, but even those play around with their enemy placements and design. Take the Van Gogh level from New Super Mario U Deluxe and then spread that creativity across the whole game.

Unlike the New Super Mario series, Super Mario 3D World does an amazing job in providing a new experience with each new level.

Yes, you can play the game co-operatively, up to four players at a time. Playing alone is great, playing with one more person is chaotic fun, and playing with three-to-four people is pure insanity. This is great because it means the game never loses its luster, regardless of how many people play it at a given time.

As for Bowser’s Fury, it feels like a minor evolution from Mario Odyssey. You drop into an open sandbox area and it’s up to you to explore and tackle objectives as you please. The twist is that you’re not alone; In this mode, you have Bowser Jr. helping you out. When in handheld mode, you can simply tap the screen to interact with things you’d use the Wii U gamepad for. When docked, tap the R button to pull up a pointer which you can move via motion controls. This system works for both the normal game and for Bowser’s Fury.

As for Bowser’s Fury, it feels like a minor evolution from Mario Odyssey.

Let’s not forget that the game also includes special Captain Toad stages, which later became the inspiration for the full Captain Toad video game. In these special stages, you play as Toad and must collect stars spread out across a small square level. Toad, however, carries treasure hunting equipment and can’t jump.

This means you’ll have to rotate the stage around and find new pathways to reach your destination. The Captain Toad levels might seem like a practice in tedium at the beginning but they become truly engaging headscratchers as you go on. None of the levels are as extravagant as the ones from the main Captain Toad game but you still get a nice bite-size here.

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Same story, same Mario, same fun.

Story

In Super Mario 3D World, Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach and it’s up to Mario oh, wait, no, that’s not the story this time around. Instead, Bowser kidnaps several Sprixies and intends on using them in his new amusement park. Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad must now journey together to save the day.

It’s a minor change to the usual plot but it’s refreshing and funny all the same. In some ways, it brings back memories of Super Mario 2 (the American one) on the NES, given how you can play one of four main characters.

Bowser’s Fury, on the other hand, introduces the strange black sludge that corrupted Bowser and turned the villain into Fury Bowser. Mario and Bowser Jr. team up to gather the resources to drive off the sludge and bring Bowser back to his normal self. Again, it’s nothing revolutionary but it’s a fresh story compared to the tired trope of saving Princess Peach. It’s not the first game to depict Bowser going over the edge a bit but it’s definitely one of the most engaging.

Again, it’s nothing revolutionary but it’s a fresh story compared to the tired trope of saving Princess Peach.

Graphics

Other than Mario Odyssey, this remains one of the most beautiful games in the plumber’s long line of entries. It also sports an amazing art style that is instantly recognizable but also distinctly a step above the New Super Mario games.

In terms of resolution and framerate, you will notice a minor difference between the main campaign and Bowser’s Fury. For the main game, it goes from 720p in handheld mode to 1080p when docked. The game runs at a smooth 60fps in both modes. For Bowser’s Fury, the game switches to 30fps and 720p in handheld but bumps up to 60fps and 1080p when docked.

No matter which mode you play in, however, the game is a feast for your eyes. The colors pop and there’s a certain sharpness that didn’t glimmer in the original Wii U release.

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You can practically hear this image.

Audio

Super Mario 3D World, hands down, has one of the best soundtracks in the whole franchise. That’s saying something, considering the amazing tracks from Mario Galaxy, Mario Odyssey, and others. The highlight is the music whenever you face off against Bowser.

Of course, the sound effects also deserve special mention. Everything from the sound of cascading water to the pop-up boops when attacking a Goomba sound just right.

Everything from the sound of cascading water to the pop-up boops when attacking a Goomba sound just right.

Final Thoughts

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury isn’t going to set the world on fire but it still shines as a perfect example of what refining a working formula can achieve. The main game still remains one of the best examples of classic Mario gameplay while the new Bowser’s Fury mode highlights what Nintendo could do in the future.

Any Nintendo Switch owner should grab the game. It’s a perfect companion piece to both New Super Mario U Deluxe and Mario Odyssey.

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