Back in 1990, Nintendo jumped into the world of handheld consoles with the green and black screened Game Boy. One of the first devices of its kind that had swappable games, Super Mario Land was...
Everything you expect from a Mario adventure: great 3D implemenation, solid controls and colorful graphics
Very easy main campaign, little variety in challenges.
Back in 1990, Nintendo jumped into the world of handheld consoles with the green and black screened Game Boy. One of the first devices of its kind that had swappable games, Super Mario Land was one of the launch titles. Featuring strange Easer Island heads, tiny sprites and a couple of fun vehicle levels, the title introduced a generation of 90’s kids to the joys of gaming on the go. Road trips to an obscure Pennsylvania water park were finally tolerable.
Super Mario Land 3D does the same trick as its 2D namesake, introducing the third dimension to the familiar modern Mario formula. The game is broken up as everyone expects: take eight separate worlds with five levels apiece, add a sprinkle of Toad houses for flavor and you have the basic framework. Each stage features three Star Medals which when collected, open up optional levels and required castles. All standard equipment in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Being the first Mario game in true 3D is why most people are coming to this party an in that respect, 3D Land fails to disappoint. While nothing pops out at you, the main benefit is an added sense of depth. As a result, you’ll find a number of falling levels, track based stages and situations that will challenge your sense of vertigo. It’s constantly immersive, important in keeping interest throughout the fairly easy main campaign. Reaching the end of the first quest took just under three hours and I had well over 100 lives stocked up when the credits rolled.
Much of the difficulty is evaporated by new powerups: the Boomerang, which gives Mario a looping projectile, the Propeller Box, which behaves exactly like the Propeller Suit from New Mario Bros Wii and the beloved Tanooki Suit. The latter provides the ability to float down from a jump, much like the raccoon tail from Mario 3 on the NES. Of all the powerups, this is the most desirable and challenge killing. The ability to hold the A button and cruise downward removes any need for proper jump timing and makes many levels easy to run through. To further aid gamers, after five deaths at checkpoint, the game gives you the option to use an Invincible Tanooki suit to fly through the level and after ten, a P-Wing can fly you to the end of the stage. Super Mario Galaxy this isn’t.
End game material includes “remixed” versions of the original eight worlds, with ramped up difficulty and no easy outs. This prolongs the replay value of the game for the diehard fan but once tackled, there’s not much left to explore. The game controls well, as all Mario titles do, the graphics are predictably colorful and the more gimmicky aspects, like moving the 3DS to aim a cannon, can be ignored or turned off.
Playing a Mario game is automatic fun. For those who grew up in the 8 bit age, there are certain rules ingrained in our DNA: coins should be collected, Goombas must be stomped and the distinctive ping of a 1-UP is music to our ears. While there isn’t much challenge to be had in the main campaign, Super Mario 3D Land is a breezy, engaging and completely enjoyable foray into the 3D capabilities of the 3DS. Like its Game Boy predecessor from 25 years ago, it may not be the best offering on the system but it’s a ton of fun in its own predictable way.