Super Mario 3D Land Preview

With Super Mario 3D Land quickly approaching its release, we round-up everything you need to know about Mario's 3DS debut.

Super Mario 3D Land, which is quickly shaping up to be one of the most enjoyable entries of the series as well as a must have title for the impressive - but lacking in quality games - Nintendo 3DS. Here's a handy rundown of what's been announced as well as a few of our own impressions and hopes for the platformer.

The Best Of Both Worlds

Mario made the jump to 3D platforming with the revolutionary Super Mario 64 back in 1996, and while he€™s rarely looked back, many fans still love the classic side-scrolling days of the series. Super Mario 3D Land is an attempt to combine the two styles of gameplay, with visuals which are clearly a cross between the colourful worlds of classic Mario and the more open-world modern Mario titles like Mario Galaxy. The game even occasionally shifts in perspective to a side-scrolling view, with the level objective being none other than reaching the end flagpole, complete with Mario€™s classic health system. Legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto has even labeled the game as a €œ3D Mario that plays like a 2D Mario game€. During our own hands-on time with the title at this years Gamescom event, it was clear that this concept has been executed well. Despite the fancy visuals and 3-D effects, Super Mario 3D Land plays like a classic Mario title. Even controlling Mario feels satisfyingly retro, with the jumping and running mechanics suitably slow-paced and stodgy. Once you get used to it, it€™s like slipping on an old glove€ or an old Gameboy cartridge.

Mario Mario & Luigi Mario

While Mario is clearly the star of the show, it€™d be a shame to leave out his brother Luigi- often unfairly left behind to deal with occasional haunted mansion mishaps. Thankfully, Luigi is back to give his brother a run for his money in Super Mario 3D Land, with players able to unlock Luigi as a playable character after completing the main quest worlds of the game. It€™s not entirely clear if Luigi will be playable for the entirety of the game after unlocking him €“ or if he€™ll get his very own selection of hidden and bonus stages €“ but it€™s still nice to see him featured in the game to some capacity.

Suit Up

Another aspect of the game which harks back to the classic handheld entries is the return of an array of power-ups and suits, which Mario can acquire throughout the game. Classics like the Super Mushroom and the Fire Flower make a welcome return along with the much touted re-introduction of the Super Leaf from the classic Super Mario Land 3, which turns Mario into a floating Raccoon (or Tanooki) for no apparent reason. Elsewhere, along with the classics are some brand new power-ups which fit snugly alongside the line up of iconic Mario mainstays. Most surprising is the inclusion of stealth, with Mario able to now jump inside blocks called €˜Hatena€™ boxes, and sneak around in an attempt to out stealth Solid Snake and Sam Fisher. Other nifty additions include a Boomerang Flower, which, you guessed it, allows Mario to throw boomerangs at enemies if feeling particularly lazy. Reaching high places for hidden coins is assisted by the Propeller Block, which turns Mario into an Inspector Gadget style half-man half-helicopter monstrosity.

Intuitive 3-D

While the 3-D functionality is both a blessing and a curse to Nintendo€™s handheld, Super Mario 3D Land looks to be one of the best uses of the technology on the console. Rather than shoving things out of the screen, the game uses the feature to create realistic depth to the colourful visuals €“ in a similar way to Pixar€™s use of the format on films like Toy Story. Even though the game plays just as well with the 3-D slider turned down, you€™ll want to appreciate Mario€™s unique and impeccable worlds in 3-D, as well as being able to use the feature to help gauge tricky jumps and more difficult sections. What€™s more, Nintendo have suggested that certain areas of the game are designed so that the 3-D visuals trick the player€. Intriguing. As well as the 3D, the game makes use of the systems in-built gyroscope to allow for motion control when looking through binoculars in search of hidden goodies.

Spotpass Content

Spotpass is a great idea €“ combining multiplayer gameplay with social networking €“ but Nintendo haven€™t quite managed to utilize the system to its full potential. Still, upcoming games continue to push the feature forward and Super Mario 3D Land is no exception. You€™ll be able to swap completion times and stats with other players, as well as trading exclusive items and goodies. Whether we€™ll be able to choose which items we want to swap and receive from others, and if they€™ll actually come in handy remains to be seen. Equally, we hope that the feature will lead to the inclusion of downloadable content for the game following its release. Will the Spotpass functionality amount to more than just an added gimmick ? Let€™s hope so.

Bonus Goodies & Secrets

Finishing the main game won't be the end of Super Mario 3D Land, as Nintendo have promised an array of Bonus Stages and Secrets to be discovered and enjoyed. As well as the aforementioned Luigi character unlock, completing the many worlds of the game will unleash a heap of bonus stages, to which Nintendo have described as tougher as well as boasting that the sheer amount of bonus stages almost outweighs the main levels. These bonus stages will also shake up the gameplay, offering variations on classic levels as well as challenges and difficult scenarios to complete. Those obsessed with finding hidden items will also be pleased to know that the hidden stars from previous Mario 3D titles are to return as €˜Star Medals€™, with certain refinements to the formula to make the search more enjoyable. Finally, fans of time-wasting can take on each level in a time-trial mode, with completion times swappable over Streetpass. Super Mario 3D Land is released on the 18th November. _____________ Are you excited about Super Mario 3D Land ?Is it enough to change any doubts you may have about the future of Nintendo's 3DS console ?

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Cult horror enthusiast and obsessive videogame fanatic. Stephen considers Jaws to be the single greatest film of all-time and is still pining over the demise of Sega's Dreamcast. As well regularly writing articles for WhatCulture, Stephen also contributes reviews and features to Ginx TV.