Nintendo made no secret of the fact that they were planning to reveal a new 3D Mario title for the Wii U at E3 2013, but they still managed to surprise us by announcing Super Mario 3D World — a follow-up to the 2011 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land. WGTC went hands-on with the blended 2D/3D platformer this week, finding it to be a fun multiplayer experience overall.
EAD Tokyo (the studio behind 3D Land and the Wii’s two Galaxy titles) has clearly taken the semi-isometric style found in Super Mario 3D World‘s 3DS predecessor, and built upon it for this upcoming game.
The most obvious addition to the game is that it reunites Super Mario Bros. 2‘s playable characters (Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad) in 4-player multiplayer. Similar to the North American NES classic, each character features slightly different controls. Mario has average speed and jumping ability, Peach can hover for short distances, Toad is faster than the other three characters and Luigi can jump the highest and farthest.
With four players running around, Super Mario 3D World can get a bit chaotic at times, and the camera’s close proximity to the characters makes it easy to get separated from the pack and quickly find yourself off-camera. To get off-screen (or dead) players back into the game, the developer borrowed a page from the New Super Mario Bros. playbook, by inserting the “bubble” mechanic into the game. The big difference this time around is that instead of having to wait for another player to free you from the bubble, you can now pop it yourself and quickly catch up to your teammates.
Mario and company’s new power-up this time out is a Cat Suit, which gives players the ability to scale up walls and run faster on all fours. The new suit also allows each character to roll-attack enemies while on the ground, and perform a mid-air pounce. In the level we demoed, the Cat Suit made a huge difference in how the game was played, as it really opened up the vertical nature of the level and made for quick work of enemies.
The other big addition that was featured in the Super Mario 3D World demo was a series of clear pipes placed throughout certain levels. Upon entering the clear pipes, players are automatically propelled forward at a set speed and can use the analog stick to change direction where pipes intersect each other. This creates a maze-like environment, filled with spiked enemies and collectibles, that breaks up the traditional platforming sections in the level.
None of the mazes in the demo’s clear pipe sections were very complex, though we would not be surprised to see this feature expanded upon in the finished game’s later levels.
Finally, during our Super Mario 3D World demo one player was assigned the Wii U GamePad, while the other three used Wii Remotes held “NES-style.” The GamePad’s touchscreen can be used to “stun” enemies for a few seconds (similar to the 2-player mode in Galaxy), but taking your hands off the controller to activate it seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.
Super Mario 3D World was certainly not what we were expecting to see from Nintendo at E3 this year — a part of us is still a little disappointed that we were not shown a new Mario Galaxy in HD — but the game appears to be shaping up to be another fun addition to the franchise.
Check out Super Mario 3D World‘s debut E3 2013 trailer and screenshots below, and look for the title to launch on the Wii U in December 2013.