It’s a-me, another excellent Wii U game that’s getting a new lease of life on the Nintendo Switch. Super Mario 3D World is one of my favourite Super Mario games of ALL TIME, so getting to play through it again with some small improvements (as well as on the go) is a real treat. What’s most interesting though is that it comes with the addition of Bowser’s Fury, a brand-new stand-alone experience that diverts from Super Mario 3D World’s fixed viewpoints and gives players a more traditional 3D Super Mario experience. Ever wondered what Bowser would be like if he was a rampaging Kaiju? You’ll find out.
As mentioned, Super Mario 3D World is a game that I’ve got a lot of love for. Rather than playing like the other 3D Super Mario titles by offering a set of open levels with different objectives to complete, Super Mario 3D World is more traditional in design with linear levels full of platforming challenges, enemies to beat up, and secrets to uncover. Whilst this is something players have done a LOT of from a 2D perspective though, things are spiced up here by taking place from a 3D (and almost isometric) viewpoint.
The levels themselves are more simple and straight-forward in design when compared to the other modern Super Mario releases, with each made up of three hidden green stars, a hidden stamp, and, of course, a flagpole to leap to the top of to mark your victory. Don’t see that simplicity as a flaw, though; the levels of Super Mario 3D World are some of the most delightful that I’ve played in any platformer, with each bringing with them a huge variety of things to do to ensure that the experience remains fresh and innovative from start to end. Sure, they embrace a lot of the hallmarks seen in other Super Mario titles, but it’s all utilised in a clever and distinct way that makes it feel unique to Super Mario 3D World’s charming experience.
There’s even a brand-new power up which allows you to approach the platforming gameplay in a whole new way: the cat suit. If you find a bell littered across the level, you’re able to transform into Cat Mario and unlock the ability to climb walls, claw at enemies, and even dive down to land on areas that are slightly out of reach of a normal jump. It’s a ridiculously cutesy power-up that brings a whole new dimension to some of the game’s platforming antics, with a stronger sense of verticality added to the more traditional Super Mario level layout because of it.
And hey, if you’re equipped with the cat suit you can simply climb up the flagpole at the end… it’s cheap, but who cares?!
The only real problem I found with Super Mario 3D World is the fact that the game’s eight main worlds are really easy to get through, ESPECIALLY if you have the cat suit equipped which can allow you to exploit some of each level’s platforming segments. Don’t get me wrong, there’ll certainly be moments where you’ll find yourself unstuck by a platforming challenge and a handful of levels certainly gave my life count a hit, but rarely did I find myself feeling overly challenged by the game.
The bonus worlds that come after you complete it, though? They’re tough as nails, but offer the most enjoyable way to experience Super Mario 3D World. Playing through all-new challenges that put your platforming prowess to the test is a real joy and certainly something that die-hard Super Mario veterans won’t want to miss out on. And hey, you’ll even unlock an additional character to play as in the first bonus world, which will certainly be a treat for Super Mario Galaxy fans…
Speaking of new characters, Super Mario 3D World allows for both local and online co-op play for up to four players, with Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad making up the initial playable cast. Each offer slight variations to make them feel different from one another, whilst you’ll also come across some levels where you’ll have to be using a specific character in order to unlock a hidden collectible.
Playing with friends is wonderful though, with the simplistic platforming antics of the game really making for an experience that’s easy for just about anybody to pick up and play. I’ve found that the online servers have been pretty consistent when playing with friends so far too, whilst the extra competitive element that’s introduced to the co-op gameplay adds a neat twist to the formula – my friends and I would race to see who would hit the tip of the flagpole first and it somehow got satisfyingly aggressive fast. Honestly, it’s just an absolute joy to play and EASILY stands out as one of my favourite Super Mario games of all time… it’s THAT good.
Of course, Super Mario 3D World is just half of the experience here, with the ominously named Bowser’s Fury serving up a slightly different kind of treat for players.
Following on from countless defeats at the hands of Mario, it seems as though Bowser has had a breakdown. No, he’s not sobbing in bed or refusing to go out, but rather transformed into a GIGANTIC and angry form and is seemingly corrupted by a mysterious goo. His new appearance and rage has got Bowser Jr concerned, so he calls on the help of Mario to try and calm his ol’ Dad down.
What follows is an open-world 3D adventure across Lake Lapcat, an assortment of islands that are full of platforming challenges and surrounded by a sea of water. You know how I said Super Mario 3D World felt more traditional in design when compared to the other 3D games? Well, Bowser’s Fury goes back to the typical 3D formula, with exploration and mission completion at the forefront as you unlock the Cat Shines required to take down big bad Bowser.
What do those Cat Shines do, I hear you ask? Well, they allow Mario to even the odds by turning into a gigantic Cat Mario, giving him the chance to beat some sense into Bowser in epic showdowns. Do this enough times and you’ll gain access to more areas of Lake Lapcat and, eventually, cure Bowser of his rage. These battles bring something completely different to the world of Mario and brought with them an enjoyable sense of strategy as players work to outwit Bowser and pick the right moment to strike. They’re really neat.
Traversing Lake Lapcat is a lot of fun, with each little island bringing with it a distinct appearance and challenging the players in a host of different ways. You might be climbing invisible platforms, trying to scale a huge volcano, blasting your way around some pipes, or even battling bosses from Super Mario 3D World in a big arena, just to name a few of the missions you’ll get involved in. There are other tasks to complete that involve time trials, unlocking cages, races on your loyal buddy Plessie, or simply gathering collectibles too, so there’s a whole lot to do in the game. There are one-hundred Cat Shines to find in total, though only fifty are required to technically beat the game.
Throughout all of the platforming and exploration, you’ll always see Bowser linger in the background. Then, when he’s PARTICUALRY mad, he’ll strike, bringing an air of darkness to the land whilst blasting projectiles everywhere and occasionally unleashing his flame upon wherever Mario is dwelling. These moments were spectacular to see unfold and also force players to be a bit more careful in their approach, especially since Bowser can show up anywhere. You can either wait it out until he leaves you alone or try and transform into the giant Cat Mario to beat him up a bit so he storms off… either method is effective.
I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy Bowser’s Fury as much as I did Super Mario 3D World, but it’s still a ridiculously fun romp that adds something genuinely different to the package. It’s surprisingly meaty too, with it taking close to four-hours for me to get the fifty Cat Shines necessary to complete it, which felt just about right.
The main problem I had is that I decided to play it on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode, which only supports 30fps play. Now this is fine in itself, but playing it directly after going through Super Mario 3D World’s sublime 60fps adventure made it feel a little bit sluggish. You’ll see an improvement in performance if you play it docked instead, but those who like to stick to handheld play will experience an inferior version of the game.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is a must-own package for Switch owners, with each of the games included offering fantastic platforming experiences that players simply won’t want to miss out on.
I absolutely adored playing through Super Mario 3D World, whilst Bowser’s Fury brings something unique to the fray that sees Mario face a whole new type of challenge… a Kaiju-like (and very, very angry) Bowser. There’s a ton of variety to be found across both games too, whilst the brilliant multiplayer of Super Mario 3D World will always keep players coming back for more even after they’ve found every collectible. It’s THAT good.
There are some imperfections here and there, especially with the performance of Bowser’s Fury when playing handheld, but they don’t stop Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury from being another stand-out release in the Nintendo Switch library.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
You can purchase the game on the Nintendo eShop through this link.