Article 001: Super Mario 3D Land Review

Super Mario 3D Land (SM3DL) just might be a perfect combination of all Mario game predecessors. This game combines 3D graphics with linear, 2D-style game play for a really fun game. While this game is not as challenging as, say, Super Mario Galaxy 2, the special worlds do provide some very challenging levels (some diabolically challenging).

 Greetings! Doctor X here. This is my first review having enabled the JoystickRobot to play games on the 3DS. I am a little late to the party, because it took a little work to get Joystick Robot's fingers adjusted properly, and I will have to update the controls when the new circle pad pro is added, but alas. I'm happy to make my first review for SM3DL.

This game brings back some much loved power-ups from Super Mario Bros 3 (SMB3) such as Super Mushrooms,  Fire Flower, and Tanooki suit and also introduces some new power-ups such as Boomerang Mario and Propeller Box. Some of these power-ups were brought to Super Mario Galaxy, but they had a time limit and "disappeared" after a minute or so. Now with SM3DL you can keep the power-ups until you are hit by an enemy.

That's right. Unlike recent titles that use a power meter to indicate how many hits Mario can take, this game returns to the "old-school" Mario game play where one hit kills Mario. You use Super Mushrooms to turn Mario into "Super Mario" where one hit will turn you back into little Mario, and other power-ups will give you an additional hit (turning you into Super Mario). Although this system is very similar to early NES versions of Mario, those games had Mario turn into little Mario directly even after taking a hit as Fire Flower Mario. Boomerang Mario turns Mario into a boomerang wielding Koopa, much like the Boomerang Bros first seen in SMB3.

Tanooki Mario puts Mario in a Tanooki suit, equipped with a tail that can take out enemies with a spin, and the ability to glide slowly while holding down the A button. The gliding ability is especially useful when maneuvering through difficult 3D courses. Unlike SMB3, this game does not include the ability to fly. Also of note, through out the main game, Tanooki Mario does not turn into a statue (However, SPOILER ALERT: in the special worlds the Tanooki Mario does turn into a statue using the ground-pound controls.).
Boomerang Mario! A great new power-up.
 The Propeller Box power-up turns mario into a little box, the same size as the traditional question-mark boxes. Mario can have an additional power-up, such as the Tanooki Suit, while using the Propeller box. Basically the Propeller Box functions much like the Propeller suit from New Super Mario Bros on the DS, allowing Mario to boost into the air with the spin of a propeller on the top of the box. In the air, you get an additional spin before the box goes falling. Power-ups aren't the only "old school" Mario game feature that returns. The "run" button also returns. Going back to the original Super Mario Bros, where a B button allows you to run fast, with SM3DL you can run with the analogous Y or X button.

You may be wondering how this works with analog controls, since with Super Mario 64 (SM64) the analog stick was used to control running speed. Turns out it works pretty good and may even give a little more control in tight situations. SM3DL does feature a new attack move, the "roll" attack allows Mario to roll into enemies. The JoystickRobot found this move difficult to execute in practice, however, and with manual attempts I also found it difficult. Punching, seen first in SM64, is absent from this game. Other game mechanics like wall jumps are still there and as good as ever.

 This game is perhaps the first game to show how 3D can be used to enhance game play. There are levels, for example, where it is difficult to see whether a cloud or a box is in front of or behind another cloud or box, and in order to properly jump on it you will need to turn on the 3D slider. Levels that use such features are indicated with a flashing 3D icon appearing in the lower left. Other examples are 2D cardboard cut-outs of enemies and 1-up mushrooms that are difficult to distinguish from the real thing without 3D turned on. In general, I prefer the 3D set about half-way. There is no real need to crank it up all the way. I recommend you go out and pick up a copy of this game if you already have a 3DS and haven't already. This game is the first real must-have title for this system, and is a pretty good reason to pick up this system if you haven't already.

Thanks for reading,
Doctor X and the JoystickRobot


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