Mario is a character who is recognized greatly, regardless of the dimension of game he is in, whether 2D or 3D. Well, his upcoming adventure, Super Mario 3D Land, looks to try and combine the level elements of 2D Mario games while melding in a unique control and graphical element portrayed by his 3D adventures. This game also brings about a unique situation for our powerful plumber: this time Bowser has his Princess AND his power-ups!
From my short playtime at this year's New York Comic Con, this adventure felt pretty good, although I initially had a couple qualms about the controls. I got to play the underground stage and Boom Boom Airship levels out of the four available levels.
Graphically, Super Mario 3D Land is astonishing. The game looks like a Wii game, partly like the Super Mario Galaxy adventures. There is a solid framerate, and while it has no bloom effects and the like, the game moves fluidly and is top-tier for the handheld, thus far. As for the 3D depth, it can get extremely intense, and when I got into the sweet spot, 3D Land looked like I was looking into a small block world, with Mario inside it. On occasion, though, the camera felt a little too close to Mario; it should have panned out a little, in my opinion. The 3D effect really helped the platforming, regardless; with it off, making jumps felt harder for me to accomplish.
The music is close to some music from Super Mario Galaxy, with new instruments here and there. The game lacks orchestration, but the tunes are basic Mario tunes through and through. This game will not win any awards for its music this time around, though. It will be an acceptable Mario soundtrack, at best, from what I have heard thus far.
As for the actual gameplay elements, the game controls much like Galaxy, except you have to use the run button to move fast and can only move in eight directions. These might have been to make the game closer to old-school Mario platformers, but movement still feels a bit odd considering the analog input. I especially had trouble doing a backflip; I had performed something like it once and was unable to do it anymore, despite many attempts afterward. Hopefully the controls become less of a problem the more you play it.
Throughout my little excursion, I got the fire flower and leaf powerups, the latter of which even the enemies make use! This game felt like it was pulling a lot from the older games, so much that I feel this game is more like a 3D Super Mario Bros. 3 rather than a new Super Mario Galaxy. Instead of the stars, we see flagpoles. Instead of star bits, there are lots of ? blocks to hit with Mario's iron fist. Oh, yes, this is old-school Mario in 3D. The more I played it, the more I wanted to keep playing it.
From the few levels I played, the game is certainly another good Mario game, but whether it sits among the near-perfect Wii adventures will have to wait until I get my hands on the full version. Here's a clip of Super Mario 3D Land, filmed by Jennifer Ivins from FantasyFaction.com.
Super Mario 3D Land emerges November 13th.