Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS is the first Mario adventure for the handheld console. And thankfully everything we love about the Mario franchise is here and fresh editions have been sprinkled all over.
3D is in the title and everywhere in the game. I had 3D switched on most of the time while playing and loved it! Nintendo has really showed off what 3D gaming on the 3DS should be like and this makes me very excited to see what future titles will entertain. The game allows you to have additional control over the adjustment of 3D via the D-pad, so it's setup is just right for your gaming experience. You can play most of 3D Land with 3D turned off, if you so want but certain points of the game it will prompt you to turn it back on because it makes that part of the game far harder to play without it.
Mario can now be controlled via the joystick/ joypad for the first time ever on a Nintendo handheld. It feels amazing to be able to play in this way and the controls assigned to buttons are also a perfect match. A and B are used to jump and X and Y is used to attack. The trigger buttons can be used in conjunction with other buttons to pull of various moves. Nintendo didn't use the inbuilt 3DS cameras at all, which was a mild let down as we would have liked to of seen what Nintendo could have pulled of. The Gyroscope on the other hand has been implemented mildly. You use it to look through binoculars and fire out of cannons and it's pulled off well.
The level design is engaging and varied. We see implementations from Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy throughout but Super Mario 3D Land is quite retro in it's approach, with flagpoles representing the end of each stage. Genius ideas have been incorporated in the levels such as one level which has a machine saw that cuts through each platform as you jump onto it so it falls to the ground, this leaves you jumping frantically from one platform to the next and it's a lot of fun. Snow, Dessert, Water, Beach and lava levels to name a few are situated throughout and the level designs just get more and more inventive.
Boss battles are the least creative parts of the game. Boss battles all felt very similar and the setups just felt dull. However the battles are a tiny portion of the game and the level designs easily make up for them being underwhelming.
Due to the 3DS only having one Joypad you don't have a camera that you're in control of. Instead you can press the left and right of the D-Pad to peak into those directions. This can also be triggered via the touch screen. Because of this the camera is regularly positioned near or is situated like in New Super Mario Bros. This works well and makes the experience more familiar to players of the Mario Bros series.
Exploration is a big part of the game, secret areas are everywhere and different routes to get to the same place are also common occurrence. A lot of the exploration is embarked on to find golden coins, three can be found within every level and you will need them to unlock levels.
As you progress through the game the difficulty will also get steeper and steeper. It doesn't get excruciatingly hard until World 8 and beyond. But if you are an inexperienced player and struggle on certain levels the game will provide help to get you through.
Suits play a key role in Super Mario 3D Land with the classic Tanooki Mario which allows you to float and attack enemies with it's tail. This suit is my favourite as it makes playing through levels that bit easier by flying over difficult to deal with obstacles. Two new suits have also been introduced with Boomerang Mario that gives you a shell for bonus protection but the real kicker is that Mario can throw a boomerang, it works well but is my least favourite suit. However the new Propeller Mario is a very innovative idea and makes playing through levels fast and fun, with Mario reaching new heights. The Mario power ups we are all familiar to seeing are here also with Mushrooms, Starman and Fire Mario.
Graphics are the best debuted on the Nintendo 3DS. It shows off what the system is capable of with sophisticated shadows and lighting effects. The richness and smoothness in colours is the most impressive part, everything is so vibrant and its just about on par with Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii. It feels so great to be able to play a fully fledged Mario 3D adventure Platformer on a handheld.
Bonus editions such as StreetPass allows players to exchange items and data but I haven't yet been able to use it. From what I have read and heard it works well.
Overall I loved Super Mario 3D Land and would definitely advise every 3DS owner to pick up a copy.