SUPER MARIO 3D LAND Monday 12 March, 2012

The other Brown lad at Geek & Spell HQ is back after his work/parenthood/gout sojourn. Let’s watch as he starts banging on about Mario.

It’s been very clear for years that when it comes to video games Nintendo are kings; don’t argue, I’m right. They’ve got the scars and the eye patch from the video games war of the 80’s and 90’s and they are still on the battlefield running towards the gun drones, holding aloft the head of a blue spiky mascot, screaming… something, can’t tell exactly what- it’s in Japanese. So it came as a surprise to me when suddenly the big N jumped feet first into the Fad infested pit that is 3D- taking one of their main cash cows with them- the up till then successful DS handheld. When the console was launched last year the big N found themselves once again screaming for a “medic!”. The console had the most mediocre line of launch titles and the excitement for the console was only spurred by one game- and it was one we’d all played before; The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D. It seemed like the virtual boy all over again…it would take a miracle…or turtle fighting Brooklyn Plumber with a borderline racist Italian accent to pull them out of this slump. In September 2011 we were given that hope. Super Mario 3D land arrived…and suddenly we understood.

There is an age old argument- you’ve played one mario game you’ve played them all. True enough, with the exception of Mario 2 which was just another game that had mario sprites crowbarred in for the western market. Sort of like putting care bare heads on everyone in the rocky horror picture show. But you know what? If its good then leave the formula as it is- don’t do what pot noodle did and ruin the whole thing by taking the salt out of it.

This is the first proper Mario Hand-held outing since Mario Land 2 (I’m not counting al the re-hashes on the original DS and even that new super mario brothers, which I still consider a re-hash too). Naturally expectations were high. Mario 3D land certainly deliverers on those expectations. It’s pretty much as if someone put Super Mario bros. 3 and Mario galaxy into a blender and served it with a side of mario 64. Now there’s a meal that would make you sick; but make it a video game and it works. Gone are the stars/ sprites or whatever arbitrary name they come up with which just means “collect a shit load of these”. Nope, it’s back to the old school with you running through short gauntlets of death to reach a flag. Not sure what all this flag grabbing achieves. Do you suddenly warp out of danger when you grab a flagpole in mario land? Not entirely sure that makes sense you know. Well I guess I am arguing with a world where italian plumbers make a living from kicking the ass of a giant turtle so maybe “sense” is not what try are going for here. No, I guess they’re going for more of a “fun” angle. Quite right too, it’s about time a game tried that again. As it always is- story is a secondary by-line in mario 3D (as I shall now refer to it as because that title is too chuffing long to keep writing out). Something…something…princess kidnapped… Something….something…dinosaur….something…turtles everywhere…something…coins…something…win. I think that’s actually what it says on the back of the box. Or it may as well because there’s not a man alive who doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into when he donns the Red cap of super justice and wonders where the last 9 hours of his life went.

It’s in 3D. Was that clear enough from the title? Hope so because the big N is really struggling for viable reasons for the 3DS to even have that little “3D” slider at the side. So does this do it? Yeeee…nearly. Apart from a few sections where the camera goes a bit funny forcing you to use the 3D to see what platform is in the foreground and which is in the background there is very little else to warrant this game being a 3D title. It’s just as good in 2D. So save your eyes., wind down that slider and spend your time enjoying the game rather than worrying why the number of enemy’s on screen have doubled only to realise you’ve moved out of the 3D sweet spot.

It’s games like this that take me back. Back to when games were games- not walk-along novels. Where you could pick it up, play for half an hour and put it down again without the worry that someone at school would tell you how it was going to end. Mind you, we pretty much always knew how a mario game as going to end. Perhaps one day the big N will surprise us and have the princess dunked in an acid bath…

…perhaps not.


Written by Brown from for geek&

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