Super Mario 3D Land is one heck of a game. If you own a 3DS (which you should!) this game is a must-
have. The platforming in 3D Land is superb; exactly what you’d expect from Nintendo after the incredible success of every single Mario game. Mario first appeared in 1981 with Donkey Kong, created by Nintendo
genius Shigeru Miyamoto. Fast forward to 2012, and we have his first appearance on the 3DS.
The story is the same as always, but with a twist: All the leaves blow off the Tanooki tree, granting
Tanooki tails to just about everything in the Mushroom Kingdom. About the same time, Bowser kidnaps
Princess Peach, and as Mario it is your duty to rescue her. Run and jump through more than 8 worlds,
collecting powerups and stomping Goombas in an effort to save the fair Princess.
The powerups in this game include some classics like the Mushroom and Fire Flower, along with some
newcomers like a Propeller Block (which lets you float into the air, similar to the propeller mushroom
from New Super Mario Bros. Wii) and the Boomerang Flower (which lets you toss a boomerang, if you
couldn’t figure that one out). But the focal point of this game is the Tanooki Leaf. This special leaf is a
fan favorite from Super Mario Bros. 3, and gives you the power to whack things with your tail, as well as
fall more slowly.
The Tanooki Leaf is actually my biggest disappointment about the game. There is too much Tanooki.
There are too many Tanooki Leaves, too many Tanooki enemies; it’s just too much for me. The Tanooki
suit drastically lowers the difficulty of the game. Where many of the levels require some precise
jumping, the Tanooki Leaf allows you to completely bypass the hard parts and sail through the levels. I
suppose it’s all about accessibility.
The earliest levels are relatively easy, yet still manage to be loads of fun to play through. As the game
progresses, however, the difficulty increases. If things get too hard, and you die too often, you are
given the choice of taking a special powerup that should help you survive. It’s a nice way of letting new
players of the Mario franchise get used to the controls, while still appealing to those Mario veterans
looking for a challenge. Once you finish the first eight worlds, which happens rather quickly, you gain access to special versions of each world. These special worlds have different locations for Star Coins, as well as some other challenging extras. The inclusion of these special worlds really bulk this game up, and make it a worthwhile purchase.
Each level contains all sorts of baddies to kill, coins to collect, and places to explore, as most Mario
games do, but 3D Land is unique in that it combines the best of both worlds: the open levels of a 3D
platformer and the solid, addicting gameplay of the older Mario games. Each level plays like a beautiful mash-up of Super Mario Galaxy and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. As you run through all of the bright, colorful environments your goal is to reach the flag within the time limit, though that shouldn’t deter you from stopping to see the sights. There are numerous places in the game where I just stopped and enjoyed the 3D effect.
Scattered throughout some of the levels are stationary binoculars that allow you to take a look at your
surroundings to see things that you might not normally be able to. With the 3DS’ built-in gyroscope
you can physically move your system to operate the binoculars. They’re fun to look through,
though moving them around is a bit difficult, especially when trying to keep the 3D effect in focus.
While your direct goal in completing a level is reaching the flag at the end, the most fun part of the
game is searching for the 3 Star Coins hidden in each level. Star Coins are necessary to unlock certain levels, and can also be found in Mystery Boxes. Mystery Boxes are very small locations between levels, and can contain coins, powerups, Star Coins, and even bad guys. Along with Mystery Boxes, Toad Houses are located between levels, which allow you to get powerups. Be warned though, once you visit a Toad House, you won’t be able to visit it again.
If you have it enabled, Super Mario 3D Land allows for Streetpass Connectivity. When you pass
someone else who has saved data for the game you can pick up their best times on each level, as well
as mystery boxes and toad houses. Being able to compare times through Streetpass is a great feature,
if you like time trials. I definitely enjoyed being able to see my friends’ times, and gloating when I surpassed them.
All in all, Super Mario 3D Land is a great game. If you like platforming on any level, then this is the game for you. With beautiful graphics, a strong 3D effect, familiar music, and fun gameplay, Super Mario 3D Land proves to be a killer game in the ever strengthening 3DS lineup. There’s really no reason to miss it.