If you’re a lifelong gamer, you probably already know whether or not you care for brightly-colored platformers starring a certain mustachioed plumber. Super Mario 3D World, a holiday season Wii U title announced at Nintendo’s most recent Direct presentation, brings back Mario and his friends for yet another romp through the Mushroom Kingdom, and I had a chance to play through one level at a Wii U showcase at E3 this morning. If the Super Mario games have never been your thing, Super Mario 3D World probably isn’t going to change your mind. Then again, you might want to consider that this Mario game has something extra special the others lacked: cat suits.
Like the 3DS title Super Mario 3D Land, Super Mario 3D World is a 3D platformer with plenty of throwbacks to past games in the series. In this case, it’s the supporting players: in addition to Mario, Luigi, and Toad, Princess Peach is playable in a Super Mario game for the first time in over two decades. I took the role of Peach in my short play session and was pleased to find that she can float just like she could in Super Mario Bros. 2, which I’ve always found to be an exceptionally helpful skill. I was also told that Luigi retained his power of jumping higher and running faster than his big brother, though the Nintendo rep nearby couldn’t say what Mario’s and Toad’s special abilities would be.
For those who have played 3D Land, 3D World feels very familiar. It looks great on the Wii U-sharp, crisp primary colors, detailed levels-but it’s not helping the “more of the same” feeling that’s been plaguing the Mario games since before the Wii U’s launch. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun to play, especially once the cat suits came out. In their feline digs, characters can pounce and climb walls, and even skitter up flagpoles at the end of levels. Exploring the level, climbing walls, finding hidden items, and fighting over power-ups made my play session totally enjoyable. Playing cooperatively can be chaotic, like in the New Super Mario Bros. games, and it’s easy to get shoved offscreen if your partner goes too far ahead, but if you manage to work together, the co-op is very harmonious.
Super Mario 3D World does have one multiplayer advantage over Wii U launch title New Super Mario Bros. U: the player using the GamePad can control Mario, instead of just adding boxes and revealing secrets to the players using more traditional control schemes. The GamePad can still unveil invisible blocks and freeze enemies, letting the Mario player help his friends out-if he’s not too busy stealing their cat suits, that is.
Nintendo is calling this “the first multiplayer 3D Mario game for the Wii U,” all of which is technically true, but there isn’t anything that feels particularly new or fresh. It’s not a game-changer, it’s more of the same; whether that’s good or bad just depends on how much you care about Nintendo’s flagship series.
Super Mario 3D World will be out this December for the Wii U.