By far the most intriguing thing about Super Mario 3D — for me — was the intent of its design. Its creators often discussed the game as a mid-point; a stripped back 3D experience that would be tangible to the new 2D crowd roped into Mario through its mega successful New Super Mario Bros. series. It looks as though they might have had some success with that: in its first year of release Super Mario 3D Land has outpaced sales of Super Mario Galaxy.
Well, more specifically: Super Mario 3D Land sold more in its first year of release than Super Mario Galaxy did.
Whereas Super Mario Galaxy shifted 7.66 million in its first year, Super Mario 3D Land managed to sell 8 million. Apparently much improved sales in Japan helped push Super Mario 3D Land over the edge, reports Siliconera.
Considering the games were released at two different times on two different platforms, there are a number of reasons why a game like Super Mario 3D Land could outperform Galaxy but I would say that the accessibility, alongside the quality of 3D Land in general, may have pushed it over the edge. You could argue that Nintendo's original intent — to bridge the gap between 2D and 3D — was successful, particularly in Japan.
Interesting. Also — play Super Mario 3D Land. It's amazing!