Some Thoughts on Super Mario 3D Land

Friday, November 25 2011 at 02:18 (Anime, Games, Music, Reviews) (, , )

So I got my copy of Super Mario 3D Land last Friday and completed it with all the star coins some time around Wednesday. Here are some thoughts:

  • The name is dumb. Yes Super Mario 3D Land is technically more correct than Super Mario Land 3D, but everyone wants to call it the latter and it’s just a much easier name to say.
  • Okay, the opening sucks. Yeah there was some wind blowing on a tree, but really nothing to get you pumped for playing the game. After Mario Galaxy came out I kind of hoped that a cinematic opening would become the standard for the flagship Mario titles. As it is, no Mario games since have come close. I mean seriously, Galaxy 1 had two whole cinematic sequences (at the beginning and the end) and it was enough to make the whole experience that much more epic. I’m not talking about story here either; I just want like one set piece per game.
  • Hub worlds. They’re awesome, and have been a feature in pretty much every 3D Mario game. Sure they’ve diminished over the years, going from castles to just flying space observatories to just planetoids shaped like Mario’s head, but they’re a space to mess around in and hide neat little secrets. There was a surprising amount packed in to that head-planet in Galaxy 2. Another feature of a hubworld is that it lets you try out and find moves. I didn’t even know that I had a forward roll until about 80% of the way through the game.
  • The difficulty is slightly wonky. Given that there is a map system that forces you to play levels in sequence rather than being able to skip certain star challenges, having a sudden harder level amidst some easier ones could be really offputting for some people. Then again, I probably made it significantly harder for myself by trying to get every star coin first time around. Even then…
  • It’s not easy. At least, some of the later levels in the special worlds aren’t easy. When I finished the regular worlds I had accumulated ~100 lives, which I then beefed up to ~600 lives using a Koopa shell trick. By the time I finished Bowser for the last time, I had less than 500 lives. If I hadn’t used the extra lives trick, I’m not even sure I would have broken even. It’s probably easier than SMG2 and NSMB Wii, but it’s harder than those games’ predecessors.
  • No. 1 cause of death. This might cause a smirk for you anti-3DS types out there, but here it is: depth perception. I think this is more to do with the size of the screen than anything. I can’t remember the number of times I accidentally jumped forward or behind a platform and tumbled to my demise. Arguably this might have more to do with the sensitivity of the slide pad than the 3D effect, but there you go.
  • Time limits. Yeah, the levels are more linear and there’s less to explore than in other 3D Mario games and I never ran out of time whilst playing (even on the time trial levels) but having a time limit ticking down still bugs me.
  • The run button. This is a particular annoyance brought over from the 2D Mario games, where (since they are normally played with a d-pad) it’s kind of necessary. But the 3DS has an analogue slide pad! So now I have to hold down a button in order to do something I want to be doing pretty much all the time. This hits the long jump (one of my personal favourite moves) pretty hard because it only goes a decent distance if you’re running. So to pull off a long jump you have to hold down X/Y, move the slide pad and then press a shoulder button and then A/B straight after. It’s a lot trickier than it might sound, and pretty much useless when you can get just as far by simply running and jumping.
  • The backflip. It’s been nerfed too. You have to charge it for a few seconds now.
  • The music. It’s decent, but nothing memorable. Quite a few tracks are ripped wholesale from the Galaxy games, and it’s none of the sweet orchestral ones. The most prominent new music is the main theme, and that sucks.
  • The Tanooki suit. It’s pretty much broken. It’s like Dixie Kong in DKC2, you can just glide over anything and everything. Once you get the silver leaf version it gets even better, because you can just turn into a statue any time anything comes near you.
  • It’s all the same. It’s not, of course. The levels are often wildly different. But it lacks the sort of bonus levels that have been in previous games like bird flying, skate racing and balancing on a ball. Arguably those all revolved around Wii motion controls, but it’s sad not to see a single crazy oddball level.
  • It’s not the best Mario. Probably no shock after reading the above. In a questionnaire Nintendo sent me they asked if I liked SM3DL more, the same or less than previous Mario platformers. I had to say less. Galaxy 2 strong.
  • I like the game. It’s a damn fun game. I haven’t even mentioned the good bits of the game because they’re so sublime that you almost don’t notice them. It’s worth begging, borrowing or stealing a 3DS just to play this game, and if you own a 3DS you owe yourself to get this game. The new features are great, and the variety of level designs and puzzles is pretty awe-inspiring.
  • To the guy who decided there should be time trial levels where you get chased by a giant shadow Mario: Fuck you. Seriously.

TL;DR – Super Mario Galaxy is my favourite Mario game ever and everything else is inferior.

In other news, I also have my copy of Skyward Sword. I can’t play it because I don’t have access to my Wii, but I can say that the gold Wiimote+ is pretty sweet and the concert CD is surprisingly well mastered. Not quite the same as being there in the concert, but having experienced both I can say that the CD gets pretty close. Lately I tend to just skip to the bit with the Dark World theme and then headbang a bit. Yeah I headbang to a symphony. What of it?

Daiz finally released the last 7 episodes of Hanasaku Iroha. Hot dang it’s amazing. I had to stop on episode 24 because I can’t watch the last episode until someone finishes downloading and watching them and I can’t watch episode 25 because I know I’ll end up watching 26 too. Oh well.

30 days ’till Christmas. I don’t know what I want yet, but I may ask my parents to buy me some microchips and an expensive metal box so I can finally build my C.H.AMP and put it next to my Panda. No point in asking for video games because I already have all the ones I want. I might ask for a copy of The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Stories because I’ve enjoyed all of the Valve comics I’ve read so far, and a bound copy would be nice. A pair of RE-262s wouldn’t go amiss either…

/ramblings

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