Though I enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. U for the Wii U, the formula felt relatively unchanged from what we saw from the Wii version, as well as from New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve all been really fun and I’ve always been a huge fan of the prototypical Mario game, but even after completing NSMBU, it felt like a “been there, done that” experience.
With Nintendo finishing up Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U, we had a chance to go hands-on with an updated build of the game in San Francisco last week, and what I’ve seen is the company taking a chance by mixing up the gameplay with a tried and true formula, with some new and interesting ideas.
During our latest preview we were able to take a look at three new levels. First up, we saw Bowser’s Castle, in World 1, which looks incredible. The detail and lighting of the water that surrounds the castle looks fantastic and we had to work as a team (up to 4 players of course) to get through the level quickly, while the cat suit power-up really came in handy. This was also the first time that we saw bomb-soccer balls that were being spit out by canons, for which walking directly up to them will kick them right back. When we arrived to Bowser’s location, we found him inside of a huge purple car that looked like something Waluigi or Wario would drive around in Mario Kart. Bowser was riding around throwing bombs at us, which we had to kick back to explode on his tires. With each tire that kept getting blown up, he’d adjust the bridge he was driving on while also spitting out fireballs. It was a pretty fun battle with Bowser, and it was cool to see a different approach to the usual format of either jumping on his head, throwing him by his tail or just trying to get past him.
The second level that we got into, which was dubbed Shadow Level, was easily my favorite one, and a level that fans will surely dig, as it’s just very different. In this level, we must use the character’s shadows and the shadows of objects to solve puzzles. There will be areas where you have to walk behind platforms and such, where you’ll have to rely on your shadow to see what you are doing. In one area of the level, we walked into a door, and we were only able to see the silhouettes of the characters and we had to use our imaginations to figure out how to get out. We even got the ability to pick up a piranha plant and use to eat other characters, before coming across an area where the person using the GamePad, blew on the mic to unlock a secret; it was pretty cool. Simply looking at this level was enjoyable, as the mixture of lighting and shadow was unique.
Finally we saw the Cherry Level, which is the first time we saw the double cherry power-up that creates a clone of whichever character that picks it up. Now to control this clone, you’re still using the same controls as the original character so you’ll have to use some timing and planning to make it work. Picking up an extra cherry, we saw a third Princess Peach (she picked up the original one), and we were told that it’s possible to see up to eight (!) clones, which would be insane.
We were also able to see that when you’re in the overworld map, you can basically jump around to any level you want within a world, as you don’t have to play them in order. Overall, I’m liking what I’m seeing from Super Mario 3D World. There are some new mechanics that are in play, coupled with levels that have unique spins on them that are making this new entry in the franchise seem fresh.
I’m pretty excited to check this game out when it releases in November, and I’m hoping that Nintendo continues to let loose on what is possible for this Wii U title.