As it became clear that Nintendo was porting many of its Wii U games to the Switch, many fans naturally hoped that Super Mario 3D World would be one of the games that made the leap. It’s hard to believe it’s taken almost four years, but we’re finally just a few weeks away before this sought-after Mario gem gets another chance in the spotlight, and this time in the guise of Super Mario 3D World + Bowsers Rage, packs an extra mode to boot.
For those who missed it for the first time, Super Mario 3D World is the sequel to the brilliant 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land and is trying to build a kind of halfway house between the linear 2D gameplay and New Super Mario Bros. games, and the more free roaming 3D gameplay like Galaxy and Odyssey.
That said, it leans heavily towards 2D games. While each of the game̵
If you have already played the Wii U version, you may notice that improvements have been made to this switch port. Many of them are subtle; the user interface has been adjusted a bit, the original resolution seems to have been increased, and some of the standard camera angles seem to have changed (although we have to spend a little more time comparing the game side by side with the Wii U version before we can find out how much time Nintendo has spent on this). The cat’s boot also allows you to climb a little higher before it runs out, making it easier to reach higher ledges.
The most obvious difference, however, is the increased running speed. As brilliant as the Wii U version of 3D World was, the characters could have done it with a little boost, and that’s exactly what happened here. Granted, each character still has their own unique running speeds (Toad is still the fastest and Peach is still the slowest), but they have all been increased accordingly to make the game feel a bit sipy. This is especially welcome when you visit older scenes to pick up some of the hidden green stars and stamps you missed along the way.
Speaking of stamps, they are actually still present here, even though they are used for another purpose. In the Wii U games, the stamps you found could be used in Miiverse (ah, remember Miiverse? Glory Days), so you can add some style to your posts. Since Miiverse is tragically no longer with us, the stamps are now used in the shiny new Photo Mode. If you are familiar with photo mode in Super Mario Odyssey, there is the same deal here: You can rotate the camera, zoom in and out, add filters and the like, but this time you can also place your collected stamps directly on the game world (and they is in color this time too).
One of the most important selling points in 3D World is its collaboration support for up to four players, and the Switch port has also received a number of improvements on that front (Captain Toad scenes, for example, can now be played with four players instead of just one). While the Wii U version insisted that everyone play on one system, you also have the option to play locally wireless multiplayer with multiple switches, so that everyone gets their own screen.
There is also online multiplayer, but at this stage we have only doubled it a bit. We played a short four-player session with a few other publications, and while it was a fun time, it also highlighted the importance of a strong connection. One of the other players in our group was playing in a shed with a weak Wi-Fi signal, which caused several instances of the action to freeze while their connection was overtaken. When things went smoothly, though, the performance was perfectly fine, so we aim to spend a little more time online before giving our final thoughts.
So far so good with the main game, then, but that’s also the not so small issue with the brand new spin-off mode, Bowser’s Fury. From what we’ve been playing about it so far, here’s the best way we can describe it: you know how we said 3D World was a mix between 3D open Mario games and linear 2D games, but leaned more against the 2Ds? Bowser’s Fury is what you’ll get if it’s looking towards the 3Ds.
The short part we can talk about in this preview is a small area called Scamper Shores. It is an island on a larger map that serves as its own independent stage. When you pass under a giant cat’s head arch, the area is activated and you can start collecting Cat Shines, the most important collectible for this mode. Essentially, it’s a giant bell called Giga Bell, which sits at the end of Scamper Shores. To activate the clock, you must collect a set of Cat Shines: when you get enough of these, the bell slides to life and you can collect it, transform Mario into the huge Giga Cat Mario and let yourself take on the massive Fury Bowser .
Cat Shines gather by taking on a series of missions, in a similar direction as Super Mario 64 or Sunshine. In Scamper Shores, for example, you can gain a shine by reaching the lighthouse on stage, and earn another by finding and defeating an evil Shadow Luigi. There are also five smaller Cat Shine Shards hidden around the area, which make up another Shine if you find them all.
While this may sound like a full-fledged 3D Mario game, it is worth remembering that, as we say, it is still more of a cross between 2D and 3D. Although you can roam freely around Scamper Shores, and although Mario now has full 360-degree directional movement instead of being locked in eight directions, there is still a fairly obvious path through the island: if you could zoom out completely and look at a distance it will still look like a 3D World scene. It’s just that instead of aiming for a flagpole, you go back and forth and collect a series of skins.
With you on this adventure is Bowser Jr., who can be controlled by either a second player or AI. You can not play without him by your side at all because he needs to uncover some secrets with the brush, but you can at least indicate how much the AI version decides to get involved: a lot, a little or not in at all. Choose at least some assistance, and Bowser Jr. will sweep around and collect loose coins and big enemies to make things easier for you. He will also keep track of any startups you get and store them in a warehouse, which means you can build up a hefty collection of backups and request them on the go. No more looking for a Boomerang Bro suit when you already have a pair in the bank.
If you do not feel like Bowser Jr. makes things easier for you, you can turn off the assistance completely. This still allows you to summon him by pressing the R button to bring up a marker, which can be corrected with the gyro to point to areas you want him to examine. By the way, this is also how to activate some of the objects in the main 3D World game that previously required the Wii U GamePad’s touch screen (and yes, you can use the switch’s touch screen in handheld mode if you prefer).
At this early stage, it looks like Bowser’s Fury will at least provide something a little different for fans who may have already thoroughly washed up 3D World when it was originally released seven (!) Years ago. While it remains to be seen how long this mode actually is, it is safe to say that this is shaping up to be an impressive package anyway, especially for those who missed the Wii U game for the first time. We get our last impressions next month closer to launch, but so far things look promising.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury launches February 12, 2021.
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