Few games spark joy like the Super Mario 3D games. The entire franchise is filled with smash hits from 64 to Sunshine, 3D Land, Galaxy and beyond. Each is different and special in its own way — and they’re all worth playing. Sadly for Super Mario 3D World, it got a little bit less love than most of the other games on the list when it released in 2013.
It wasn’t because it was bad game but because it wound up on the Wii U, a console widely regarded as one of Nintendo’s uncharacteristic missteps. While the console incorporated a bunch of cool mechanics, it was a commercial failure and led to a make-or-break situation with the launch of the Nintendo Switch.
Luckily, the Switch thrived — and the Super Mario franchise along with it.
Last year, we saw the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars on Switch. This year, Super Mario 3D World has also been brought to the console, saving it from the pit of Wii U mediocrity.
But if that wasn’t enough, Super Mario 3D World comes with a sneaky little bonus: Bowser’s Fury, a standalone 3D adventure that serves as a spiritual successor to Super Mario Sunshine. It makes for an impressive package, and one every Nintendo fan will love.
The first thing to know about the collection released for the Switch is that Super Mario 3D World and Bowser’s Fury are standalone games. Super Mario 3D World is a remaster of the original, with controls lightly adapted to the Switch while Bowser’s Fury is a bite-sized new story in Mario canon.
Super Mario 3D World is delightful
To kick off, let’s start with Super Mario 3D World. This was a title I was extremely disappointed to have missed out on in the Wii U era — but it holds up just as well in 2021.
The name’s pretty self-explanatory, but if you need a refresher: 3D World is a level-based platformer where players guide Mario through a variety of obstacles, avoid enemies and use power-ups to discover stars and secrets. Each level has five collectables (three stars, a stamp and a yellow flag) and you also have to complete various bonus stages filled with enemies. Basically, it’s classic Mario, but 3D.
Every level in the game is an absolute blast.
You’ve got your lava lands and your ice stages here, but there’s also levels made of cookies, races set on trains, haunted mansions, beaches and magical theatres. It’s got the biggest range of any Mario game, and there’s always something new around every corner. Couple that with a great range of power-ups (including the now-iconic Cat bell) and you’ve got one of Mario’s biggest and most imaginative adventures.
While the game isn’t particularly hard (until the final levels), that doesn’t make it any less fun. There’s something new and exciting to find in every stage, and plenty of collectibles to keep you coming back for more. If you pay really close attention you might even see a tiny Luigi sprite hopping across your screen (he has little cameos in special levels).
Really, it’s hard to fault Super Mario 3D World at all. Simply, it’s a perfect game. There’s a great amount of variety between stages, the bosses are all very interesting and every level brings something new. Plus you get to play as Cat Mario, and Cat Mario is adorable.
It’s great stuff — and the package is only made sweeter with Bowser’s Fury.
Bowser’s Fury deserves its own spin-off
Bowser’s Fury is the icing on the Super Mario 3D World package — but it shouldn’t be disregarded as a simple add-on. It’s actually a complete, standalone game with its own set of challenges, gameplay and visual style.
It’ll take you about 4-5 hours to run through the entire adventure, which is more akin to Super Mario Sunshine than 3D World. Like the former, you’ll be running through Bowser’s Fury collecting Shines (Cat Shines this time) and you’ll need to collect them to defeat Bowser in gigantic, earth-shattering battles.
Unlike your typical Mario game, this plays out in a non-linear, open world fashion. You’re basically thrown into the action and explore the world, which is split up into smaller locales, each with their own challenges.
The Bowser boss fights are also an interesting highlight, because they’re so different to other Mario adventures. Rather than your typical three-hits-and-it’s-over encounter, these fights are more fluid and require careful planning and timed attacks. While this combat is typical of most adventure video games, it’s new to Bowser’s Fury and makes the game feel fresh because of it.
There’s segments in Bowser’s Fury where you ride Plessie, and some with wild puzzle-platforms. There’s raging boss battles with giant Bowser and smaller moments entertaining a troop of cats. Every polygon is packed with love, making for one of the most beautiful, interesting Mario adventures in a long while.
Packing Bowser’s Fury away with Super Mario 3D World feels like an odd choice because of this potential.
A four hour game can be great, but it wasn’t nearly long enough to fully appreciate the game’s ideas. This isn’t Super Mario 3D World Part Two. It’s something much bigger, grander and more ambitious.
Bowser’s Fury is something really special, enough to justify its own spin-off or sequel. Any Mario fan, or fans of open-world adventures, should make time for Bowser’s Fury. It’s a great adventure that shows a promising future for the Super Mario franchise.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is spectacular package for the Nintendo Switch, and a must-have for any Nintendo fan. Don’t sleep on this game.