Friday, November 1, 2013

NYCC 2013: Super Mario 3D World

For four days, people came to the Javits Center in New York City to experience one of the largest conventions on the east coast: New York Comic Con 2013!  Fans of comics, movies, television shows, and toys came together to revel in their hobbies, and with them came video game companies to show off their wares for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.  We here at 3RM attended a few of those days, and we have impressions and video to provide from our experience!


Nintendo had a large booth at this year's New York Comic Con, full of games already out and what is about to release.  Of the games shown, the game with the biggest presence was their next major release on the Wii U, Super Mario 3D World.  I already had the chance to play this particular demo back in June, but having a second time to try the game out, my interest in it has only grown.

Super Mario 3D World is the console sequel to 2011's Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS.  In this game, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad encounter a pipe into the Sprixie Kingdom, but it turns out that Bowser has already invaded the kingdom and kidnapped its princesses!  Now it is up to all four from the Mushroom Kingdom to save another kingdom from the mighty King of Koopas himself.

Super Mario 3D World is a 3D platforming adventure that combines elements from older Mario games such as Super Mario Brothers 3 and newer games such as Super Mario Galaxy.  The point of each stage is to reach the flagpole at the end of each level, but to get there, players have to venture across a number of obstacles and defeat a number of enemies in the way.  What makes 3D World so unique is that, unlike its predecessor, it allows for up to four players to cooperate together at the same time in-game, similar to the side-scrolling cooperative play in the New Super Mario Brothers series.  However, each character has their own different abilities that make them stand out.  Mario is all-around good, Luigi jumps higher, Peach hovers in mid-air, and Toad can dash the fastest.  When playing single-player, this allows for strategic character choices, but when multiplayer is involved, cooperation becomes even more paramount to ensure everyone makes it through unscathed.

When I first played the game in June, I was left with concerns with cooperative play, as I was continually left behind while other players took initiative, dashing forward without any concern to explore or let other people catch up.  Thankfully, this time I had a bit more control in where the group traveled, and with only three team members in my playtime, there was a little less action to distract and confuse.  As everyone kept exploring and playing around with the game mechanics, there was less catching up and, with that, more time to experience and enjoy the level design.  The issue of cooperation versus competition will always be present when it comes to this game, but hopefully when I get to play the final version, that will not be too much of an problem.

The demo I played introduced the newest power-up to the Mario franchise (and the most noteworthy addition to the game mechanics): Cat Power-Ups.  As a cat, the heroes can dash quickly on all-fours, perform pouncing attacks, and climb up walls with relative ease.  In the demo, everyone in my team of three got to try out this power up, and it is quite entertaining to use.  Suddenly walls were no match for Cat Mario, and slashing and diving at enemies felt just that much more precise, although attacking the enemies with a simple jump sufficed, too.  It was great to explore the world in a way not done before, and that makes me wonder just what secrets they could hide in this game, accessible only to a bit of feline-powered research.

Graphically, the game looks pretty much like a high definition version of Super Mario 3D Land.  The models are more akin to Super Mario Galaxy with a touch more smoothing in the models.  The animations were smooth and fast to fit the pace of the gameplay, and the environments were colorful and bright.  The textures could have been a little higher resolution, but the game did not look bad by any stretch.  On the GamePad, the game looked just as fine, so off-TV play for single-player should not be a problem.

Super Mario 3D World felt as quick and fun as its predecessor, but the addition of HD graphics, multiplayer cooperative play, and the cat power up give promise that the game could end up even better than its 3DS counterpart.  Super Mario 3D World releases later this month exclusively on the Wii U.

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