Nintendo’s quest to bring Mario into the three-dimensional worlds of Super Mario 64 has continued since its inception. Nintendo has experimented with many different ways to transport Mario into three dimensions, from the tiny worlds of Galaxy to to the hyper-realistic worlds inspired by hakoniwa of Odyssey. Mario’s adventures in side-scrolling were largely identical, but 3D was a completely different story.
It’s this aspect that made Super Mario 3D World such a popular game when it was launched for Wii U in 2013. This game took the level-based Super Mario 3D Land gameplay and combined it with 3D, more immersive gameplay. Mario could dress up as a cat, which was a first for Mario.
It is inevitable that the game launches on Switch. 3D World’s relaunch this week is much more than a port. Although the game’s core gameplay remains unchanged, Nintendo packaged Bowser’s Fury with an extension pack that is similar to the original. The game uses many of the same concepts as 3D World and places them into a different kind of open world. There is constant danger due to Bowser, a large kaiju.
You get the best of both the worlds if you combine these two collections.
Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World launched in a strange way. Although it is a 3D video game, the experience doesn’t occur in one big world. You can instead access the overworld map to find discrete and smaller levels, just like you would with Super Mario World.
This game is a perfect blend of creativity and structure. Although the game has a few short levels that have a clear beginning and ending, the gameplay allows for many different ideas. For example, you can track shadows on the walls or pursue Bowser with his fireball-spewing car. 3D World brought many new ideas to the series. One of the best ideas is the cat suit that allows Mario to scale walls with his claws. Another highlight are side missions featuring Captain Toad. (The first even inspired a separate spinoff, which like 3D World made the transition to the Switch.
The game was a joy eight years ago. While it may not look as modern as a game of today, its bright and colorful graphics hold their own. Importantly, 3D World is still unique despite all the Super Mario sequels. While it is still enjoyable to play, this game offers a unique opportunity for people who have missed the original release. This is a huge number considering the Wii U’s relative success. 3D World, which is also benefiting from the switch to the Switch because of its smaller levels, can be played on the go. Touch controls have one drawback. While they were more intuitive when you held a Wii U tablet, it can make things difficult when switching to TV mode. In this mode, your touch will be replaced with an on-screen cursor.
This port is, in essence, an excellent port of Super Mario Bros.
But it also offers a lot. Bowser’s Fury the second half of this equation is an independent experience you can play from the main menu. The mechanically speaking, the experience is almost identical to 3D World. While you can dress like a cat, and zip around in transparent tubes with your camera, the 360-degree control gives it a modern look. The expansion is interesting for two reasons.
First, its structure. Bowser’s Fury occurs in an archipelago that has no distinct worlds or levels. It is just a bunch of tiny islands. Like always, your goal is to gather bright shiny coins which will allow you to explore new places. The entire island chain is a collection of many challenges. It’s up to you to solve them all.
There are many things you can do in the game: race with sea creatures, hunt down rabbits, defeat bosses, rescue bunnies and more. You also have to climb great towers or navigate dangerous lava stretches. Super Mario style, certain tasks are easy while other, particularly towards the end of Super Mario, present devious challenges and tight time limitations. You can bet that getting all the coins will require some effort.
Bowser is what makes this system so great. Bowser Jr., who can float alongside you to fight enemies and point out places of interest to you — is your partner in the game’s story. He wants to save his dad who was extinguished to Godzilla like proportions. He has two new abilities and sizes. First, he lurks in the background and occasionally emerges to attack. When you see it coming, there is usually a bit more wind and rain. After that the world goes dark.
The effect is almost like an extension of the Zelda Zelda light-and-dark worlds. Bowser can unleash a torrent of fire on you when he is in Godzilla mode. Flamming balls will rain down upon him. While this makes the situation more difficult, it has some advantages: certain areas are only accessible if Bowser’s flames burn through bricks. These situations require you to not only stay in survival mode but also think strategically. You can see familiar areas in a completely new light.
There are also the massive boss battles. While you cannot normally attack Bowser, it is possible to do so. Once you have enough coins to unlock the temple you will be able use a large bell to become a giant cat Mario. This allows you to battle Bowser head-to-head. The battles get exciting and occur frequently throughout the game. Although it may take a while to eliminate Mario’s enemy, the end result is worth it. Bowser’s abilities and pattern change each time you face him. The sheer scale and devastation of these battles are unlike any I have ever seen in Super Mario games. This gives you something concrete to aim for. You’re not just trying to collect coins and get all of them, but also trying to score another Bowser.
Bowser’s Fury also has two important points to be aware of. One, it’s not a full-scale Super Mario game. Although it has a lot to offer, the game is probably only one-third as large as other similar games. Bowser’s Fury has a charming side effect, even though it deals with dark themes. It appears that Bowser’s Fury created the islands that you will explore. The game features everything cat-themed. An entire group of rainbow-colored cats followed me one time while I was wearing the catsuit. I eventually stopped running and it became an instant cuddle party.
Bowser’s Fury basically is a remix to 3D World. This takes the basic mechanics of 3D World and transforms them into something both familiar and new. The package itself is a reflection of 3D Super Mario as a series: you don’t know what to expect each time you release a new installment. It can mean an entirely new game or a different structure. It can also mean towering monsters, cute kittens, or a lot of them.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is available for purchase on Nintendo Switch, February 12th.