Considering the lackluster sales of the Wii U, it is not surprising that Nintendo thought it was necessary to port the “bigger” titles from that console generation to the Nintendo Switch. Just look at the current best-seller for Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and you can see that this legendary company knows what it is doing with its IP.
Which made it just a matter of time before Super Mario 3D World joined the fray of games being ported to the Switch. Unlike previous ports, however, this one arrives with an expansion called Bowser’s Fury (something I will go over later in this review).
The general basis of Super Mario 3D World is that it is essentially a traditional Mario game in 3D, split between different worlds, where each stage has a flag post waiting at the end. Unlike an old school entry, there are collectibles to be found. Three green stars as well as a stamp that lie in different locations on every level. While the stamps are optional within “the story”, you need to collect x number of green stars to unlock certain stages (the Bowser stages being some of them).
The characters move and jump excellently, as you would expect from the masters of the platform genre, but there is one major issue that stands out like a sore thumb. The button used to run faster, using power-ups and pick up/throw is mapped on the same button, and as far I could tell, there is no option for remapping it. It might not be obvious if you play alone, but in multiplayer, accidents of someone throwing out a teammate when they want to use their power up occur often. When it comes to playing docked or playing handheld, there isn’t that much to say. Both styles worked incredibly smooth and I couldn’t find any issues throughout my journey.
Speaking of multiplayer. Except for the problem with button mapping, local multiplayer works better than expected if you play on the same system. I can’t comment on online multiplayer since I’ve not had a chance of trying it out.
While Super Mario 3D World does not really add anything new to the base game, it’s expansion adds excitement to this re-release. Bowser’s Fury has you helping Bowser Junior collect items that the game calls “Cat Shines” (an homage to Sunshine’s shine sprites perhaps?) to save his dad, who has been infected by a mysterious black substance that has transformed him into a Godzilla-sized monster, wreaking havoc wherever he goes.
There were a lot of talks before this expansion was released about how it looked like an unreleased DLC for Super Mario Odyssey. Though I wonder if there’s a basis for that argument, I can’t help but acknowledge that Bowser’s Fury is, without doubt, the biggest sandbox Nintendo has made for their mascot. There is no jumping into a painting, flying to a galaxy, or traveling the world through a spaceship. Here, we have an island area that connects to different areas that have their fair number of missions and cat shines to find. This begs the question: is Bowser’s Fury an experiment by Nintendo for their next title? A way of testing people’s reactions towards this new concept?
Like 3D World, Bowser’s Fury has multiplayer, although this time it’s only two player local co-op. The game allows a second player to join in as Bowser Jr., who otherwise follows you as an NPC. Unlike the main title, the multiplayer here was rather lackluster.
During the multiplayer segments, I often felt as if the game forced me to position myself at an angle; my sister, playing as Bowser Jr., would be able to grab collectibles that were out of Mario’s reach. Whenever you ride on friendly dinosaurs like Plessie to reach nearby areas, it is pointless to control Bowser Jr. due to the dinosaur’s speed. There’s also the matter of Jr. being unable to do anything during the kaiju fights between Super Saiyan Mario and Godzilla Bowser
The amount of time it took me to gather enough sprites to finish the “story mode” was about six hours. Unlike 3D World, there are some noticeable framerate drops, mostly when Bowser appears to hinder your search or when you fight him in kaiju form.
In the end, this is a game worth playing. 3D World is a fun experience all around, and playing multiplayer is perfect in times like these. However, if you’ve played the original on the Wii U and are only interested in Bowser’s Fury, wait for a discount.