Super Mario 3D Land preview: We clear World 1 and kick Bowser's butt

Mario gets some much-needed depth

While allowing the plumber to hover over the occasional gap was helpful before, the level we played featured massive drops that had us essentially base-jumping from platform to platform, falling hundreds of feet between levels. It felt fantastic, and really showed off the power of the platform, with large, open areas that looked absolutely magnificent in 3D. The playfulness with depth helped show how strong the 3D effect can look when used correctly. The fourth level, too, played with this depth, and reminded us of some of the more platform-heavy segments from Super Mario World that took place in the clouds.

Above: Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look down

After finishing off the regular levels we were met with another familiar stage: Bowser’s Castle. It, too, was in full 3D, capped off with a confrontation with Bowser on a wooden bridge. Mario fans will smile when they find that Bowser has learned his lesson from previous Super Mario Bros. titles. Mario’s nemesis isn’t going to simply going to step aside and let some fat plumber hit a switch to burn him alive. This time he’s blowing fire at Mario well before he’s anywhere near the switch, and continuously trying to stop him from getting there. It’s futile, obviously, as this was only World 1. But even though our first bout with Bowser wasn’t incredibly difficult, it gives you a good idea of the fine line Nintendo’s walking between the best of Mario’s classic titles and newer 3D adventures.

After completing the first World we’re more excited than ever for Super Mario 3D Land. Shocking, we know. Nintendo looks to have continued its mastery of piling on nostalgic, retro love without sacrificing the modern feel, but this time they did it while reminding us of the level design we fell in love with in the 2D versions of the game. We don’t know how they did it, but we’re hoping the rest of the game is as fresh, varied, and original as the first world. In November, we’ll know for sure.

Sep 15, 2011

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