Super Mario 3D Land Review

In our Super Mario 3D Land review you’ll discover why Mario lands with a bang for the first time on Nintendo 3DS. In this all-new adventure that has been built from the ground up to take full advantage of the glasses-free, stereoscopic 3D portable powerhouse.

Super Mario 3D Land promises to blend the best elements of the classic Super Mario Bros. series with those of modern Super Mario titles for the ultimate “back-to-the-roots” experience with a modern flare.

But can Super Mario 3D Land capture the magic of the series? Find out in our full review…

Index of Super Mario 3D Land Guides:

System: Nintendo 3DS
Also Available On: None
Released: USA November 13th 2011 / Europe November 18th 2011 / Australia November 24th 2011 / Japan November 3th 2011
Players: Single-Player Only
Genre: Action Platformer
Save: Three save files available. Saves automatically after every level or stage completed or played.
Online Support: StreetPass enabled for trading of Mystery Box stages. No online play.
Controllers: Played using the Circle Pad to move Mario. D-Pad only for menu selection or camera control.
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Country of Origin: Japan
Rating: E for Everyone. Safe for the whole family. Contains “Mild Cartoon Violence”

Super Mario 3D Land reinvents everything fans love about Mario gaming with the first platforming environment in true 3D, without the need for special glasses. Players will experience an exhilarating new sense of depth, distance and speed while running, jumping and stomping on enemies throughout the levels.

Key Features include:

Tanooki Mario Returns!

The fan-favorite Tanooki Suit makes its first appearance on the Nintendo 3DS and first return since the classic NES masterpiece, Super Mario Bros. 3! Use the Tanooki Suit’s tale in Super Mario 3D Land to attack enemies by swatting them or float gently down from great heights, making navigating and leaping much easier! These abilities help players move through the 3D environments with more confidence than ever before!

Stereoscopic 3D Visual Prowess!

stereoscopic, glasses-free 3D makes its debut in the Mario series with Super Mario 3D Land. These graphical effects make it easier for players to judge the depths and distances in their environments. Players can more accurately judge the jump to the next platform or how far Mario is from a Question Mark Block.

New Yet Familiar, Classic Yet Modern

Classic and modern collide in Super Mario 3D Land! All-new abilities add unique gameplay strategies to the adventure. New moves include a rolling somersault attack and the ability to Dash. Longtime fans will recognize the Dash move as the classic 2D Mario ability before Nintendo’s mascot went 3D with Super Mario 64, and it returns for the first time sense that game! Also returning is Small Mario, who will perish if hit. Classic Power-Ups including the Super Mushroom, Starman and Fire Flower appear in Stereoscopic 3D for the first time, and the Tanooki Suit marks its glorious return alongside all-new Power-Ups!

Master the Circle Pad

The 3DS Circle Pad gives Mario complete freedom of movement and full analog control for the first time on a handheld system! Allowing players to confidently move our hero through the game’s many stages and worlds with each! And allowing for simple-to-grasp maneuvering through the many challenging environments that await you!

New Enemies On the Loose!

All-new enemies make their debut alongside fan-favorites (Koopa Troopas, Thwomps, Para Troopa/Goombas, Bob-Ombs, Cheep Cheep, Bloopers, Spineys, Pokeys, etc.). While lots of variations on classic enemy types return including Tanooki enemies, enemy Stacks, and Ink Piranha Plants!

So what did I think of Super Mario 3D Land, Nintendo’s newest hit title and the bonafide killer-app and would-be system seller for the 3DS?

Graphics: 10

Super Mario 3D Land looks as great as you’d want a Nintendo 3DS Mario to look and the game gives Super Mario Galaxy a run for its money. Although the game does not “Wow” nearly as much as that game did. However, you’ll not be disappointed by the graphics, and the game uses the stereoscopic 3D effect greatly in some sections, which really adds a cool new layer of depth.

Music & Sound: 8.5

The sound effects and voice in Super Mario 3D Land are FANTASTIC. Mario’s new sound effects and those during the picture sequences are great, and the game sounds fresh. Not recycled, which is a big deal. However the music isn’t so great in my humble opinion. Many of the same songs play throughout the game, and while a number of classic ditties are present, there are not enough of them. I’m also not a fan of the main theme, although I like it better than the one in New Super Mario Bros. DS.

Ingenuity: 9.5

Super Mario 3D Land literally mixes the best of the old classic Mario’s with the best of the new modern Mario’s. It’s hard to put into words, but it just works REALLY well. But the biggest surprise and the game’s greatest asset is the layout of the levels and how the game plays with perspective to make things interesting. And they remain interesting throughout. The game also makes good use of stereoscopic 3D, but not enough to be revolutionary in ANY sense of the word. Quite the opposite. As the game plays just as well with 3D off. For shame!

Replay Value: 8.5

There is a wealth of extra content once you beat the game that will offer fans nearly double the amount of time that you think the game will take to conquer. Having said that, there is not much of an incentive if you don’t like the main adventure. And the game contains no real bonus modes, mini-games or bonus features. However there is a ton of meat here and the game will keep you busy for a week or two.

Super Mario 3D Land FUN FACTOR: 10

There’s no doubt about it, Mario makes a bombastic return to grace and glory with Super Mario 3D Land; a game that is quite simply, flat-out fun. Classic yet modern Mario action that proves, as always, why Nintendo is the best developer in the world.

This game literally mixes the best of the old with the best of the new. The game takes many awesome elements, including the look and singular world designs of Super Mario Galaxy, and mixes them with the classic gameplay styling of Super Mario Bros. 3 (Dash button, Small Mario, Tanooki Mario, Airships, classic Mario Bros. 3 music, etc.) and adds in a dash of freshness with unique viewpoints and level layouts to create a masterpiece. The game literally has a look about it in the way of perspective and layout that is unlike any Mario game before it.

I feel that the game straddles the line between absolutely awesome to great, yet lacks the completely epic feel of Super Mario Galaxy (although this picks up near the end of the game). And while the game is much more memorable than New Super Mario Bros. DS, it still leaves me wanting a bit for something I can’t quite put my finger on. I think it is the fact that so many of the levels are extremely easy or simple. Yet they remain excellent showpieces for fantastic design; so it is hard to complain. Complaints from me are essentially nitpicking and the wishful thinking of a Nintendo fanboy.

Super Mario 3D Land is extremely accessible and should offer doses of easy fun to players of all ages. By the end of level five I had exactly 99 lives without doing any sort of cheating or 1UP hunting. By the second half of the game I had over 100 lives at all points, so that tells you something. Despite that, you will actually die quite often, but extra lives are plentiful and the game never truly feels challenging… Until you beat it….

And yet finding each and every Star Coin (ahem, er, Star Medal) was not as taxing as one would think, and is pulled off easier than it was in New Super Mario Bros.

Where Super Mario 3D Land truly excels is in the area of presentation. Fanboys and fangirls will swoon as the game makes lots of references to previous Mario games and even a few subtle hints at other Nintendo titles (Zelda, Donkey Kong, you’ll smile when you notice them). The sound effects are excellent, the music is good, and lots of cool classic elements work their way into how the game is presented, from the way the screen wipes away at the end in reference to Super Mario Bros. 3, to the Flagpole you have to jump at for each stages end (a reference to the original Super Mario Bros.), to the user interface and the fact that you are represented on the bottom touchscreen by a classic Super Mario Bros 1 sprite. And many very cool elements make their way into the level designs themselves. One level for example is entirely made out of colored blocks that create a mosaic of classic Super Mario Bros. 1 sprites, including Mario, Luigi, a Super Mushroom and Princess Toadstool! SO. AWESOME.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the sheer wealth of classic elements, enemies and objects that made it into the game. Longtime Mario fans will absolutely be in heaven. And while many classic elements return, new twists are also given to those classic elements throughout, like the fact that nearly every enemy type has a Tanooki Tail at some point. Odd… And while the gameplay features unique shifts in perspective that are very cool and give it an old school vibe (this is hard to explain, but you’ll know what I mean when you see it in action), modern Super Mario Galaxy-style design is also inherent throughout. A couple of stages really push things in very cool directions, and resemble the planets (without being a sphere per say) of that game with their intricate fully polygonal designs.

For example one stage features the Switch Panels that shift from red to blue and swing from left to right each time you jump from Super Mario Galaxy. Another features Green Switches that create rolling panels that form platforms for you to walk on. Classic elements like Donut Blocks and crumbling platforms are found, whereas some levels offer open fields, water to run through, and trees to climb and are closer to Super Mario 64. Overall the stages run the gamut, and taken together offer a huge amount of variety. But once the game is done you’ll be hard pressed to remember half of what you just played through. The game is not memorable in that sense (whereas, to this day, I can recall nearly every stage of Super Mario 64), although you’ll know that you had one HECK of a fun time doing it. And will probably gladly do it again!

Complaint-wise, you can tear through the game in a few days (or less), although a wealth of extra content and INSANELY AWESOME twists await those who conquer the final stage. And that amounts to a fair amount of replay value. Although the game lacks any kind of multiplayer. I personally found the stereoscopic 3D to be a crock and a gimmick. The game does not take advantage of stereoscopic 3D to the level that I was hoping for, although exactly what that would be eludes me.

All I know is that the “3D” in the title comes more from the level design and the perspectives offered than it does from a 3D effect. What do I mean exactly? I’m talking about how you can switch the 3D off, and play the entire game that way, and you’ll miss nothing. The game is essentially the same, whether you play it with 3D or not, and that’s a bummer. I also did not find that the stereoscopic 3D added anything to the gameplay. The 3D effect DOES NOT make it easier to judge distance or depth… it does effectively nothing to aid the gameplay. In this reviewers humble opinion. Good try Nintendo, but no cigar. And I found that fact to be disappointing.

The game also lacks the challenge of the classic 8-bit titles, although this is remedied for those who keep playing beyond the end of the game… Remedied in a big way I should add. But still, extra lives are given away like free candy on Halloween and are easy enough for a preschool student to end up with 50 lives by World 2. This isn’t good because throughout the entire game you’re mainly collecting Coins…. which become useless. This has almost always been the case, but it still bugs me in this day-and-age. And I wish it were fixed so that Coin collecting actually mattered.

But all of this is small peas. To keep it short and simple, Super Mario 3D Land is a BLAST. Everyone who owns a 3DS will want to have this game in their collection. Is it a system seller? I don’t think so necessarily, but it is certainly one of, if not THE, best reason to own a 3DS. And you will not be sorry after purchasing the game; as Nintendo has done a bang up job and the level design is leagues better than that of New Super Mario Bros. DS. And much, much more unique. They also deserve to be commended for finding, once again, a way to create a new twist on Mario and make him fresh and relevant once again. Even if the 3D effect didn’t exactly go as far as I hoped it would.

Buy it. You’ll be happy you did.