Something has really upset Bowser. Forget that he's absolutely massive and hurling rage-fueled fireballs at me, he's also covered in a lot of mysterious gooey sludge that's clearly bad news. Yes, what I'm seeing for the very first time is Bowser's Fury in the Super Mario 3D World release on Switch. After being pulled down into a gloopy vortex as Mario, I suddenly have to dodge pockets of lava the King Koopa is planting on the ground, and do my best to keep out of the way of the fiery projectile blast coming directly from Bowser's mouth. It's quite the spectacle as rain pours down from the dark sky and streaks of lightning thunder overhead. If I'm being entirely honest, though, I'm not paying all that much attention to the big bad guy who's hellbent on sending me to a fiery grave.
After landing in a giant footprint before this fiery inferno begins at the start of Bowser's Fury, my eyes are instantly drawn to some very adorable little details. When Mario crash lands, you're immediately greeted with paw-shaped flowers bobbing to and fro under some trees with pointy ears… yes, pointy ears. Next to these flowers are some shrubs shaped like cat heads, and in the distance, a signpost indicating danger also features kitty ears and a feline skull. A big goofy grin begins to spread across my face, and in spite of the perilous flame-ridden situation Mario is soon in, I keep stopping to appreciate these charming little details. Sure, this place is dark and dreary and a giant antagonist is out to get me, but it's hard to focus on Bowser's mighty fury when you're in a magical land filled with cat-shaped features.
It didn't take me long to fall completely in love with the level designs of Bowser's Fury. Happily, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury features a fantastic photo mode that I can't get enough of. While I've enjoyed tucking into the creative levels of Super Mario 3D World and Bowser's Fury alike, I've spent most of my time so far setting up and capturing playful shots and soaking in the colorful (often fuzzy cat-filled) look of the worlds.
Little did I know the toe-beaned flowers and kitty-shaped plants are but a taste of what's to come when Bowser's Fury truly opens up to you. After the initial clash with Bowser, you encounter your very first Cat Shine, a collectible cat head emblem that clears away the black goo blocking the lighthouse's lamp. The lighthouse, by the way, also looks like a cat with ears decorating the very top and a tail peeking out at the back. This gloopy Bowser isn't a big fan of the light, so the Cat Shines quickly establish that light is the key to defeating your very large foe.
After Bowser flees the scene and the weather calms down, you see the world expand for the very first time. Levels spring up from the water covered with cat-eared trees and as I venture down a little hill, I'm whiskered away (I'm sorry) to a world where everything is catified… and when I say everything, I mean everything. It's an absolute joy to discover the smallest details of the level designs. From leaves and engravings that decorate the side of platforms to fences with cat-head cut-outs, feline friends can be seen every which way you look.
All of the enemies you encounter have also sprouted kitty ears, with the likes of Piranha Plants, Blocksteppers, Goombas, Conkdors, Boomerang Bros, and much more besides sporting pawsome looks. Playing as both Mario and Toad in a catsuit really is the cherry on top of the whole experience, and it's easily one of the most enjoyable powerups to use in Bowser's Fury and Super Mario 3D World. Not only is it just plain adorable, but it also lets you attract a small army of fellow cats in Bowser's Fury. These fluffy friends all appear to reflect the colors of other characters you can play in Super Mario 3D World, and they set the scene for some of the best photo opportunities.
Paws for effect
While you do have some control over camera movement as you jump around platforms, the excellent photo mode really lets you take in the views. After all, with so many adorable cats roaming the world, it's only natural that you'd want to take some pictures. With all manner of different features to play around with, the photo mode lets you capture the perfect shot at any given moment in both Super Mario 3D world and Bowser's Fury, so you can really let your creativity loose. As someone who's new to Super Mario 3D World, I certainly didn't expect to spend a lot of my time capturing photos of Cat Toad in all his majesty on Switch, but I have zero regrets. I also spend a lot of time simply using it to zoom in on my surroundings so I can truly appreciate the attention to detail on each level.
Just like some of the best photo modes in other games such as God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn, the photo mode in Mario's latest adventure equips you with a variety of different filters, with some seriously stylish and fun effects to liven up your shots. From making Cat Toad into a work of art with the Oil Painting filter, to taking goofy shots with the Fish-Eye Lens and snapping endless pictures of Mario in a catsuit with other cats snuggling up to him, it's a pure delight to mess around with the options and make the most of Nintendo's colorful environments. I even began to fashion my very own game of Pokemon Snap in Bowser's Fury. With every new enemy I encounter that's been fuzzified with cat ears, I feel compelled to open up photo mode and get a shot of each and every foe as though I'm collecting and cataloging all of the cat designs.
Bowser's Fury might have sent me hurtling into a fiery, dark world with an enraged enemy hot at my heels, but it also took me on a wondrous, cat-filled adventure I'll not soon forget. And thanks to the amazing photo mode, I can fondly look back on my time with Mario and Toad in their respective catsuits whenever I wish. If Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury leaves me with anything, it's the hope that photo modes continue to feature in future Nintendo releases.