Mario enters the third dimension... for real this time
It's easy to say that Mario single-handedly invented the platforming genre, and while that's not completely true, what cannot be said is that he hasn't left his mark. For close to thirty years, Nintendo has revolutionized platforming again and again, from Super Mario Bros and its sequels –staples of 2D platforming - to the landmark Super Mario 64, which showed the world for the first time what 3D gaming was truly capable off. And let's not forget more recent masterpieces like Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel, which wowed gamers with their radical gravity-defying gameplay.
Can you think of any other series that has contributed so much to the genre? Didn't think so.
Mario has a long and lustrous history with platforming, and next month, that history will be celebrated with the portly plumber's debut on the 3DS, Super Mario 3D Land.
One of the first things to keep in mind about this game is that it is the first original 3D Mario platformer for a portable system (Super Mario 64 was rereleased on the DS, in case you forgot). This is certainly exciting in and of itself, but what I found most exciting about this new installment is the way Nintendo plays more by the rules of the classic side-scrollers. Super Mario 3D Land's levels have limited amounts of time to be cleared, just like in Super Mario Bros, and instead of a health gauge refueled by coins, the game relies on the classic health system used in the side-scrollers, in which getting hit by enemies turns you small, while getting hit in the weakened state kills you.
Besides these, Super Mario 3D Land pays further homage to its past. The way the stages in this game are designed harkens back to the early 8-bit titles on the NES, making them feel almost like three-dimension evolutions of 2D levels. This is also apparent in the power-ups, for example, the side-scroller staples like the Mushroom and the Fire Flower, and long-unused power-ups making their 3D debut, like the fan-favorite from Super Mario Bros 3, the Tanuki Suit, which, besides putting Mario in an awesome raccoon costume, gives him the ability to slap enemies silly with his tail and flutter-jump Yoshi-style.
Though the game can be played with the 3D effect turned off, there are many places where the option can come in real handy. For the first time in the series' long history, you can actually perceive the distance between platforms, allowing you to land tricky jumps with greater ease than before. I also noticed little rooms where the camera is in a fixed angle and uses forced perspective to make you think platforms are positioned in places where they are not actually.
I am really looking forward to Super Mario 3D Land. There is so much for a fan of Mario to get excited about. For hardcore fans of the old side-scrollers, this will be their chance to see how a 2D Mario game plays in 3D, while fans of the 3D games should be happy to see more of the awesome gameplay that has defined Nintendo's star in recent years.
Super Mario 3D Land will be coming out on Nov. 13, 2011 in North America, Nov. 18 in Europe, and on the 3rd and 24th in Japan and Australia respectively. Luckily, there's still enough time to pre-order it, like I did (but that's a story for another time).
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
[View Super Mario 3D Land images / screenshots +]
[Watch Super Mario 3D Land videos / trailers +]
[View more Super Mario 3D Land articles (news, previews, reviews) +]
[View Super Mario 3D Land cheats / guides +]
More from GameDynamo