I played Bowser’s Fury this weekend. I’d intended to save it until I’d finished my first run through the Switch’s remake of Super Mario 3D World, having — like most humans — never owned a Wii U. But boy did I get bored of that quickly. And there was Bowser, just waiting on the launch screen, tempting me with his tarry glare. Turns out, this is what I’d love to see Nintendo do a lot more of.
Clearly there’s a lot that everyone wants Nintendo to do more of. Like MORE METROID PLEASE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. But what this bite-sized 3D platformer shows is a whole other side of Nintendo they haven’t really revealed before: brevity.
At first I was disappointed when I read that Fury was going to be significantly shorter than the sorts of 3D words we’re used to from Nintendo. Super Mario Odyssey is three-and-a-half years old! I’m very impatient! But as I started playing — disillusioned and disappointed that 3D World a) isn’t a 3D world, and b) feels like a rehash of every other 2D Mario I’ve already played enough thanks — I realised, “Oh my goodness, this is manageable.”
I haven’t finished so many Nintendo games. I know, I know, I’m the bad person here. But the reality is, I’ve never seen the end of Breath Of The Wild, will almost certainly never find time to finish the second run through Odyssey, and goodness knows when I’ll ever get around to polishing off 64, Sunshine and Galaxy, now I’ve bought them all over again. But I completed the first play through Bowser’s Fury over a busy weekend with children climbing all over me throughout. I’m already a good way into the second lot of Cat Shines! And crucially, it was just as good as you expect from Nintendo.
In fact, it is an astoundingly clever reinterpretation of the eight-year-old 32D World, embracing all its little feline idiosyncrasies and reimagining them as a proper 3D Mario game. And while Bowser’s moments of fury come too thick and too fast, to the point of abject irritation by the end, it does so many, many excellent things with all the expertise you’d hope for, just in a much shorter time.
Admittedly my levels of satisfaction are somewhat warped by the price. $70 is an awful lot of money. Yeah, for sure, I’ve got 2.5D World to trudge through eventually. But my expected price for decade-old games is closer to the $15 sort of range, and another $50 for Bonus Bowser definitely feels too much. This has the vibe of DLC, albeit not content that fits in to any previous game. It’s Odyssey in spirit, 3D World in motifs, but doesn’t really slot in neatly to either.
I’m delighted with the fun I’ve had though, and the fun I still have to, er, have. And most of all, it’s made me wish for a Nintendo that sees projects like this as something viable for its future. I can imagine games like Bowser’s Fury being released as download-only offerings, not carrying the weight of expectation of a boxed release of a brand new Mario outing, but making space for experimental, imaginative, equally delightful games for a chunk less money.
There must be just so many Mario ideas stuck to pinboards around Nintendo’s offices, ones thought either too odd or too temporary to make it to the next big game. It’d be the most fantastic way to let them into the light, with lower pressure and stakes. And for me, well, it’d be more games I know I’ll have time to finish! Which is no small deal when they’re games as excellent fun as this.