|Super Mario 3D World|
The story has been slightly changed from the norm. Bowser this time kidnaps the Sprixie princesses and Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach... yes... Peach, go to the Sprixie Kingdom to save them. Funny thing, we finally see the Mario Bros do some "plumbing" and repair a busted clear pipe.
You may have noticed from the trailers that the game looks a lot like Super Mario 3D Land... well the game was built on the same engine yes, but unless you have a 3DHDTV it's going to be tougher. This game plays a little like SM3DL but with 5 different characters to use, it comes out feeling so different.
The 5 characters have their own strengths & weaknesses. Mario is the middle stick, Luigi slips about but can jump high, Toad is the fastest but can't just to save his life, Peach is slow but can float for a short period of time and Rosalina has a spin attack and can jump high... but she's a slow character. You'll probably stick to your favourite or one that suits your play style best, but I wouldn't get too comfortable with them.(epic foreshadowing!)
With 3D Mario games I have a love/hate relationship with them...I LOVE them, but the camera hates me and it carries on to this one. Unlike Super Mario Sunshine you can't control the camera properly and it goes out of it's way to screw you over as much as possible. The camera is limited on how you can move it and it can usually be unhelpful, even on a different angle.
The game has a world map that looks like any other recent Mario games, but you can navigate it completely and not along a scripted path. This doesn't really add anything to the experience, but you can hunt for coins, lives and secret pipes so there's something. You can also warp between the worlds easily and anytime using the map option which is a great thing to have.
The levels are very imaginative in their design. You can tell while while playing them they were designed with a lot of flexibility with the players in mind. The main levels in the game are designed to reflect the world they're in and aren't too challenging but after the credits roll, the end games levels are a whole other ball game... but I'll get into that later.
The gamepad isn't used very much in the game. The main levels it's used for are some explorer Toad levels. These will have you blowing into the mic and turning the camera to help navigate the obstacles. These levels are definitely a highlight of the game but feel like they were designed with 3D in mind and can be hard to beat. There are a few normal levels that will use the touchscreen and mic to get through it but there aren't very many of them.
A fair few of the classic power ups have come back from SM3DL but there are a couple new ones too. There's the cannon block that lets you shoot cannon balls, a goomba hat that makes things ignore you, a potted piranha plant that eats everything in sight and the star of the show... the cat bell that turns our heroes into a cat that can climb walls, swipe at enemies and do a dive bomb attack in the air.
The game has a heavy multiplayer focus, but is still a great single player experience. Before you ask, no... there's is no online multiplayer because Nintendo don't like it. Playing with other people is less irritating then in the New Super Mario Bros series and can lead to some fun shenanigans. Multiplayer can also be exploited by the solo player too since each player can can score an item to stash away and everyone has access to them, just use 3 Wiimotes to score the items and away you go. The multiplayer in this game is the most fun with others I've had in ages.
This game is also the best looking game Ive ever played, better then the original Crysis on a high end PC in my opinion. Well detailed environments filled with vibrant colours pepper the game and that soundtrack! The music is top notch and is the best in the Mario franchise to date! Visually and musically, this game is just beautiful.
The boss fights in this game outside of the returning Boomber and female Boomber are kinda unique. Kicking soccer ball bombs at Bowser on a car is my personal favourite. All the bosses still work on the 3 hit kill style as before, so nothing new there. You'll have a bit of fun playing through these fights... but lets face it, they're not very challenging.
Now onto the EVIL part of the game... the end game levels! Once you beat the main game, more worlds open up. From World Mushroom and World Flower you get remixed versions of stages designed to be harder and more irritating, but they are nothing compared to World Crown! World Crown is a completionists nightmare and is pure EVIL! It only has 3 levels but they are the hardest levels ever conceived in a Mario game... ever! The hardest one is World Crown-Crown aka Champion Road. This level will eat up 100's of lives and to make matters worse... if you're a completionist it has to be done with EVERY CHARACTER! This will drive you insane and may lead to physical violence against inanimate objects like a coffee table or the controller itself... you have been warned!
So yeah, Super Mario 3D World is a fantastic game and should be under your Christmas Tree... but it's a completionist's nightmare. Great level design, great music, fun throughout the main portion... but beware the endgame levels! I mostly had a lot of fun with the game... still have a headache thinking of Champion Road though. This is just such a great family game and it's the 2nd reason to own a Wii U with Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD being the main reason and The Wonderful 101 the third reason. Go buy it!