Super Mario 3D Land

There are several questions surrounding the Nintendo 3DS when it launched earlier this year. “Was Nintendo ready?” seems to be the main one, but there are a few others, most notably, “Where’s the Mario game?” Up until recently, every Nintendo system that has launched has come out with some coordinating Mario game, but with the 3DS, we were stuck with the likes of Pilotwings Resort and Super Street Fighter IV instead. But don’t fret, the plumber’s coming soon enough, with Super Mario 3D Land set to make its debut on November 13th.

Super Mario 3D Land seems to be a quasi-Mario title of sorts. It’s not a full-on 2-D side scroller like New Super Mario Bros., nor is it a full-on 3D game like his Super Mario Galaxy exploits. Instead, it’s sort of a combination of both, as Mario makes his way across smaller, more substantially designed stages that look like they were inspired by his older games. But that’s not saying the gameplay is too old school for its own good, as there are several smart ideas – and effective use of 3D surprises – that will keep players engaged.

Though not too much is known about the story, it looks like Bowser is once again up to no good, and Princess Peach finds herself in a pickle, per usual. As the brave hero who sets out to rescue her, Mario must face all sorts of difficult odds in order to overcome Bowser and set things right again. Luckily, he’s got a few new tricks up his sleeve to save the day.

Like older games, Mario can boink into blocks to uncover coins and power-ups, and he can also jump on enemies and ground pound nearby objects. A couple of new abilities also return here, including the Wall Jump, where Mario can rebound off of walls to reach higher distances, and the Long Jump, where he can fly further out, should he need to clear wider distances. He can also somersault into a front flip, perfect for doing an assault move while continuously moving. There are plenty of enemies throughout the game, including no shortage of Goombas, Piranhas and other familiar favorites from the series.

What’s more, the power-ups will be welcomed with open arms when it comes to taking on enemies. The Flower returns, giving Mario the capability of shooting huge fireballs at those from a distance and up close. The Super Mushroom enables him super-sized strength, enough to survive one good, strong hit before he shrinks back down to normal again. The Star provides temporary invincibility, enabling him to run over everything in his sight. But the most anticipated power-up of all, that makes a grand return is the Tanooki Suit, where Mario can fly around using the assistance of his tail. This comes in handy for floating across great distances or getting up to speed to reach newer areas.

The level design in Super Mario 3D Land is definitely inspired. There’s no shortage of 3D fun to be had here, as the visuals really pop out at you while you jump around each stage, discovering new secrets and seeing the effects of your work unfold in a dazzling flourish. What’s more, the 2D levels are sweet too, almost on the same level as the uber-challenging New Super Mario Bros. ones. And the game is backed by a fun little soundtrack, complete with Mario-isms aplenty. (It’s-a me, Mario!”) Don’t be surprised if you hear a few favorites making their return.

There’s no question Super Mario 3D Land will be a hit, and definitely one both Mario and 3DS fans deserve. This game could’ve easily come out at launch and saved Nintendo a lot of headache, but hey, better late than never, right? Be sure to check back for the review this November!