Super Mario 3D World is an absolute delight. Every piece sings. From its gorgeous, colourful aesthetic to its frantic, world-hopping adventures, there’s plenty to love about it. And what’s even sweeter with the game’s Switch re-release is an exclusive new chapter: Bowser’s Fury.
Surprisingly, this expansion isn’t like the rest of Super Mario 3D World.
While it retains some of the powerups and general mechanics from the base game, here they’re expanded out into a brilliant open world adventure. For the purposes of this preview, I can only talk about the chapter’s opening level, but frankly that’s more than enough to talk about how stunning this new adventure really is.
I’d actually recommend jumping into Bowser’s Fury before you kick off your 3D World adventure because it’s such a fun and enjoyable journey. It’s the perfect amount of zen before you kick off on more challenging gameplay.
Rather than straight platforming, Bowser’s Fury is actually more akin to Super Mario Sunshine — a bright, open world puzzler set on a beach.
Here, you’ll be tasked with collecting Cat Shines (rather than Star Shines) but the basic premise is the same. Bowser’s doing some bad stuff and it’s up to Mario to stop him. Also, Bowser Jr. is there. Every Cat Shine you collect will help unlock magic power-ups to take Bowser down and save your beachy little corner of the world from evil. The first summer-themed location is packed with challenges that’ll be familiar to any long-time Mario fan.
You’ll need to collect blue coins, defeat various enemies, jump through obstacles and climb tall mountains to earn Shines and advance your quest. All the hallmarks of your typical Mario platformer.
But the best part about the entire experience is everything — and I mean everything — is cats.
Mario is a cat. The flamingo enemies are cats. Bullet Bills are cats. There are even actual cats in this level. It’s totally adorable, and part of the reason why the expansion instills so much joy. Sure, every once in a while Bowser comes out to ruin your day, but in the spaces between his attacks you’re free to frolic in the sun and admire all the cute sights and sounds of your adventure.
There isn’t a whole lot of challenge in the opening chapter of Bowser’s Fury (thanks to a hearty powerup system), but that doesn’t dampen the fun of the expansion. Everything here is bright, colourful and shiny, and there’s plenty of secrets around every corner. If you explore the lower reaches of the mountains, you’ll find hidden coins. If you pause long enough by your cat friends, they’ll start purring and petting you.
If you don’t want to go alone on your quest, Bowser’s Fury also gives you the ability to bring a friend along for the ride.
In two player co-op, a mate can take the role of Bowser Jr. and help you swat your way through enemy hoards. It’s a great little quirk to the game, even if it doesn’t feel very necessary. You can just as easily let the AI take over and have Bowser Jr. pick off your enemies one-by-one, but you’ll need to play around with the options and see what works for you. There are some secrets you may not find without this little tyke’s help.
The opening level of Bowser’s Fury is a genuine, pure delight.
It’s packed to the brim with fun activities, places to explore and colourful worlds to wander. While it is dramatically different to Super Mario 3D World, that’s part of what makes it so excellent.
It’s a fresh, wholesome take on the world of Mario, and in 2021 we need all the wholesome adventures we can get. Any fan of Mario or 3D platformers is in for a treat.
Stay tuned to Kotaku Australia for a full review of the entire adventure closer to release on February 12.