The Average Gamer

Super Mario 3D Land. USE THE 3D.

So, 3D eh? It’s been out a while now and I still have no desire whatsoever to buy active shutter glasses, passive TV thingies, that Trioviz whatsit or a Nintendo 3DS. I just don’t care, y’know? Edge violation annoys the crap out of me and frankly, I shuffle around a lot when I’m playing games. Like… a lot. Like, I spend 4 hours solid playing Super Mario 3D Land not that long ago and by the end of it I was lying half on the sofa and half on a pile of rearranged office furniture to get comfortable. That’s just how I roll.

The 3DS is not forgiving of shufflers. As you may or may not know by now, it works by off-setting the 3D screens ever so slightly, so that each eye receives a different image. As a player, you have control over the level of off-set with an analogue slider, so you can adjust the level based on how far away from your eyes you’re holding the device. As long as you make sure you hold the 3DS at a fixed distance and don’t tilt your head much, it’s fiiiiiine. Shift position, left your arms drift or maybe stretch your neck a bit and it’s all over. So yeah, I turn it off.

But the one thing I noticed about Super Mario 3D land? Sneaky buggers have put in challenge levels where you have to use the 3D. I spent a good 10 minutes bouncing around gormlessly in a room stacked with boxes wondering if there was some sort of graphical glitch that meant Mario was falling behind a box instead of jumping ON it. Eventually, in a desperate bid to not have to ask the nice PR lady if I had broken their test console, I jumped up and down in frustration on conspicuous yellow tile at the front of the screen.

Yup, when I stood still on the tile then the perspective of the entire room changed, revealing that the block was, in fact, not at all in the perfect alignment that it appeared to be. It was… *gasp* a bit to right and in front! But ever-so-carefully sized and positioned to seem like it fit the pattern of the blocks stacked against the wall. Obvious with the 3D on, yet almost impossible to see with it off.

In another level, high up in the sky, I happily jumped from cloud to cloud. “Whee!” I thought as I hopped along to my destination. “I’m trundled along on my fluffy white platforms” *bounce* *bounce* *bounce* *splat* Buh? “Oh, I probably got the jump angle slightly wrong. Never mind, I’ll just restart from the last checkpoint.” *bounce* *bounce* *bounce* *splat* Yup, another platform perfectly positioned to appear in one place with the 3D setting off and clearly elsewhere with it on.

I say again, sneaky buggers.

But come on, Nintendo, really? I (theroetically) already spent over £150 on your fancy pants handheld console. I (theoretically) bought your game for £30 of my hard-earned dollars. And you’re telling me that I’m playing it wrong?

In fairness, the cloud section is flagged with a floating [3D] box in the corner. Had I been thinking, I might have treated that as a clue to turn my 3D on but you know what? I turned it off for a reason. Looking at 3D on the 3DS is tiring and it gives me a headache.

Despite this minor setback – and to be clear, I only encountered it twice in the 5 worlds that I played – Super Mario 3D Land is a fun game, even for people like me who have never seriously played a Super Mario game before in their life. (Shut up, I’ve been playing PC games since before you were born, young whippersnapper.)

The game’s levels are laid out along similar lines to the Super Mario Galaxy games, albeit with less shooting through the air from planet to planet. Basically, you collect enough giant coins in earlier worlds to unlock the later levels. I managed to get through 5 entire worlds in a single session without trying very hard, only to find I needed 50 giant coins to unlock the castle at the end of World 5 and only had 30. Back to level grinding for me.

The lands themselves are nicely varied. You’ll find yourself scaling mountains, running along pirate ships, crawling through dungeons and bouncing around on clouds. There are brightly coloured exteriors, biscuit-themed exteriors, mushrooms stacked up like totem poles, disappearing-reappearing platforms. All sorts of madness goes on and the whole thing is just so happy it’s impossible not to be cheerful, even as you die again and again on those stupid flippy platforms that swap in and out as you jump. Super Mario Galaxy veterans will know the ones I mean.

In a nice touch for us impatient noobs to the series, you can store one power-up when you pick up another, so on certain levels when you need to shoot fireballs to progress, for example, you don’t need to stress quite so much about losing your abilities as you would in the classic games. The Tanooki suit is great fun for smashing blocks with your tail and the propeller box hat provides a metaphorical safety net for those of us who aren’t so confident with precision jumps. You can also have a boomerang suit (bit boring) and various other tricksy abilities.

When you die often enough in a world, you get rewarded with the numpty suit for a while. This is a white version of the Tanooki suit that renders you invincible. Pretty handy for barging through enemies when you just want to get off this damn level. Yes, I used it on a number of occasions – notably the few levels that featured a camera moving relentlessly onward, regardless of where I was or what I was doing.

These levels in particular annoyed the crap out of me. I’m trying to enjoy your scenery, goddamnit. Why are you forcing me to rush through the level? If I were, say, rushing from burning lava or an incoming tidal wave, I wouldn’t have been so annoyed but when the entire difficulty of a level relies upon the on speed of a camera moving along a virtual dolly? That’s just silly.

Sure, I’ve had a bit of a whinge about certain features but overall, Super Mario 3D Land is great fun. If you have a 3DS I would very much urge you to buy it.

Super Mario 3D Land will be out on the 3DS from 18th November.