Let’s face an honest truth right off the bat: The Wii U didn’t get a fair chance. Nintendo’s first HD console was almost immediately ignored by the gaming audience, leaving so many great first-party games completely unplayed by many. Once the Switch came out, Nintendo realized how valuable it was to bring many of these Wii U games to Switch, allowing so many more people the chance to play these great games. Which brings us to Super Mario 3D World, one of the best Wii U games that had not made the jump to Switch. With Super Mario 3D World on Switch, Nintendo went the extra mile to add a brand new experience to the game in Bowser’s Fury. To put it simply, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is the first must play game of 2021 and a must buy for Switch owners.
In October of 2013, Nintendo released Super Mario 3D World on Wii U. The beautiful, sometimes frantic Mario game was an absolute delight to play on your own but even better with friends in co-op. Fast forward nearly 8 years, and as part of Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary, Nintendo re-releases Super Mario 3D World on Switch.
It really can’t be overstated just how fun Super Mario 3D World is. On your own, you’re getting a full, fleshed out adventure bursting with unique courses and power-ups. Each of its individual courses introduces at least one new mechanic or enemy so that the game never feels old and on repeat. Even when a stage seems to bring back a mechanic you saw earlier in the game, Super Mario 3D World messes around with it by placing it in a new, unexpected way.
The thing about Super Mario 3D World is that, while it’s fun on your own, it’s even better with friends/family. The fun/chaos that easily occurs when four people are fighting over power-ups and high scores make Super Mario 3D World a blast. Even better, Super Mario 3D World on Switch now has ONLINE MULTIPLAYER! A first for the mainline series, you can finally play through the entire game in online co-op with friends. This is a fantastic addition to the game and a highly recommended reason to pick it up. I played online with friends a few times and can say that it works surprisingly well for Nintendo Switch Online. I did run into a couple of instances where the game froze momentarily online, but this was largely due to a friend streaming a movie WHILE trying to play online. The issue didn’t pop up again once he stopped doing that, and during the remaining time online, I didn’t run into any issues.
Those who’ve already played through Super Mario 3D World won’t notice a bunch of changes in how the game plays and feels. Running speed is the most obvious change in the Switch release. All four characters now move a bit quicker, which fixes an issue the Wii U version had with feeling a bit too slow. The biggest change with Super Mario 3D World on Switch is the addition of the Bowser’s Fury side game/mode. The story in Bowser’s Fury is that Bowser has somehow turned into this new Fury Bowser alter-ego, and only the power of the Giga Bells can stop him. These bells are out of action though, and you’ll need the power of the Cat Shines to make them work again. The Shines are dotted all around the large, open-world of Lake Lapcat, a body of water that serves as the game’s map.
Don’t worry, the lake is filled with many different large and small islands to run around on and explore in this open-world adventure. Each of the larger islands acts like a separate course, and each of these have five Shines to collect through various objectives. This could involve turning on the island’s lighthouse, collecting the five Shards pieces hidden on the island, or using a key to unlock a caged Shine. Get all five Shines on an island, and its lighthouse will fully shine, helping to repel Fury Bowser. I won’t go too much further in explaining the Bowser’s Fury mode as I don’t want to spoil the fun surprise that occurs in the game. Surprisingly, Bowser’s Fury isn’t a small “side mission”-like experience to Super Mario 3D World. If you’re trying to do the bare minimum and just reach the ending of Bowser’s Fury, you’re going to take around three to four hours, depending on how much you like to explore. If you’re looking to get all the Cat Shines and to 100% Bowser’s Fury, you’re easily looking at six to eight hours of playtime.
That said, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury does have a couple of things worth pointing out. First, Super Mario 3D World is mostly a pretty easy game. For the main adventure, you likely will never see a game over as the game is very generous with extra lives. It’s also not massively challenging, except for a few specific levels scattered throughout the game (and, of course, the insanely hard, pull your hair out Champion’s Road course). Overall, it’s not a hard experience, so if you know what you’re doing, it’s not a major challenge. Bowser’s Fury mode also has the issue of being a bit repetitive. There isn’t enough variety in the Cat Shine missions. Although each island has five Shines to collect, you always know what to expect from three of them: reach the lighthouse, collect the five Shards pieces and break the Fury Blocks hidden somewhere on the island. Even the “side” Shines fall into the repetition of get through an obstacle course on Plessie, chase a rabbit, or help a cat find its kittens. It’s not that these Cat Shine missions are bad, it just starts to feel a bit like repeat mode by the time you’ve reached the end of Bowser’s Fury. In my opinion, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is absolutely worth a pick up, even if you’ve already played it before on Wii U. The Bowser’s Fury mode alone is a special experience that truly feels like Nintendo is giving us a taste of the future of Mario games.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 12th February 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury was provided by the publisher.