That’s C-a-t [space] M-a-r-i-o. Cat Mario!! And that’s what I squealed in delight every time I saw a commercial for Super Mario 3D World over the holiday season of 2013.
CAT MARIOOOOOOOOO! [squees induce breaking glass and barking dogs]
Okay, so I was excited. And good thing too because I had only recently gotten my shiny, new Wii U, and I didn’t have a damn thing for it except New Super Mario/Luigi Wii U. And yet, it would be a year before Super Mario 3D World was added to my collection.
Is there some ridiculous, juicy, and convoluted reason as to why that might warrant THIS INCREDIBLE BLOG POST???! Um … … … no? To be honest, my initial excitement for Super Mario 3D World didn’t last much beyond 2013. In my house, 2014 was really about the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, and the Alienware Alpha – redoing our entertainment space, making them all work, trying out all their spangly, new features. The Wii U got relegated to the sidelines. It wasn’t until we got Bayonetta/Bayonetta 2 near the tail end of 2014 that the Wii U saw any action. Then, at Christmastime, Super Mario 3D World finally came along.
Taking cues from Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario 3D World once again sets Mario and his companions in, well…a 3D world. And it’s a world worthy of the Mario brand. Insanely colorful, active, and nicely tactile, the game’s various levels appear open, remain linear, but still offer up plenty of secrets to discover. And it plays like any other Mario game. Traverse the themed levels (grass, snow, sky, fire, etc.) from the starting point to the end flagpole, gathering coins, power-ups, and other treasures along the way, all while paying attention to the timer for each level.
The game’s power-ups are the same but decently different from what we’ve gotten in previous games. In addition to the well-known super mushroom and fire flower, there the Mega Mushroom (G-I-A-N-T Mario), the Boomerang flower (yay, boomerangs?), the Propeller box (helicopter Mario, anyone?) and a couple different Super Leafs that bring out the Tanookis in us all. And then, there’s the bell. The Super Bell. And the Super Bell means the cat suit, and the cat suit means CAT MARIO! And cat friends! Oh yes, in this game you can chose to play as Mario, Peach, Luigi, or Toad. Each has their own special abilities, and each looks stunningly adorbs in their respective cat suits. And yes, I did just type “adorbs.” I kinda hate me too.
And, there’s also a story. And it’s a story that doesn’t involve Peach getting tricked by Bowser’s “free candy” van! Rather it’s a story that involves Bowser kidnapping a group of Sprixies, an all-female band of adorably adorable sprites. Your goal is to rescue a Sprixie from each level and eventually defeat Bowser. Nothing terribly new there.
What is new is…uh…new stuff in the game is…um… Well, the secrets: the green stars and the stamps. Those are kind of cool. Should I say spoilers? Sure…okay… [start SPOILERS] Finding a stamp in each level reveals a new image in a large collage made up of many a beloved Mario game character. Within each level are also hidden green stars, some of which are obtained through Captain Toad mini-games. In these you have you maneuver Captain Toad (who cannot jump) through 3D mazes in a vaguely FEZ-like fashion. I found these puzzles to be remarkably fun deviations. If anything, it was great that they gave you something else to do besides collect coins, jump on boxes, and stomp goombas. That and they made you actually use the Wii U gamepad for something. Go figure, that. [end SPOILERS]
If you haven’t picked up on my weird attempts at subtlety, Super Mario 3D World did not make me sqee in real life as much as I would have hoped. Once I got the game, I played it on and off for a few weeks, never to the point of addicted marathoning. As expected, it was entertaining and mildly frustrating at certain points, but the game didn’t strike much of a chord. After the first few levels, I found myself oddly annoyed at the game’s 3D world. I know I’m terrible when it comes to dealing with different visual perspectives in games, but I often had more trouble navigating a particular landscape than I think I should have.
And Cat Mario? Boy, he was the most disappointing of all. I became more bored with the game to ever care about perfecting his climbing and attack abilities. By the time I got to the game’s final levels, I preferred the Tanooki suit because I liked its functionalities better, and I eventually found myself avoiding the Super Bells altogether.
I don’t want to believe that the ship has sailed for me and Mario, but I’ve not gone back to Super Mario 3D World since first playing it months ago. But I can’t get rid of it because there’s a little part of my heart that hasn’t completely died yet. Maybe, I think, maybe I just need to go back and play as someone else. Though I occasionally switched characters out of curiosity, I spent most of the game as Mario. Maybe a new face would liven things up? I don’t know. Maybe Super Mario 3D World just isn’t the game for me meow. Maybe it will be sometime later? I don’t know that either. Maybe I should quit writing and try the game again NOW?
Hmmm… I… just… don’t… know…