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Super Mario 3D Land preview

Super Mario 3D Land

Hands-On with Super Mario Land

Welcome and enter the centre


Seriously Nintendo? You are really going with that title? Wouldn’t Super Mario Land 3D make more sense, or just Super Mario 3DS? No? Oh well. Incredibly dumb title aside, Super Mario 3D Land (urgh) is one of my most anticipated games of what remains of 2011, and it’s up against some pretty stiff competition. I have now played it, so read on for my impressions.

Why is this game such a big deal? Well, if you are a fan of Mario’s 3D adventures (and you damn well should be, they’re superb) the prospect of a brand new entry is a tantalizing one. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was great, but it was “more” rather than “new”. Furthermore, a handheld-only new 3D Mario adventure is the realisation of the dream that began and died with the DS launch version of Super Mario 64, which proved once and for all that 3D games need an analogue stick. For Nintendo fans this is surely the 3DS’ killer app.

Of my Super Mario adventure


I played two levels of the game, and was quite surprised at what I found… and not necessarily in a good way. For those wanting Super Mario Galaxy or even 64 on a handheld with pure tight controls, you may want to revise your desires. Super Mario 3D Land is clearly a mix between 2D and 3D Mario games that the Galaxy series has hinted at but otherwise avoided. This basically means small stages, a lot of side-on moments, and a flag at the end. You have 360 degree control like Mario 64, but usually you are just running in one direction.

The most crippling problem the game has right now is the baffling decision to include a ‘run’ button. Yes, despite the analogue stick-thing sat on the left, you still have to hold ‘Y’ to run. This makes Mario’s handy back-flip move nigh-on impossible for a start, and also feels utterly pointless. Trying to attack any enemies or jump while running is made ridiculously difficult just because you can’t reach both buttons. Hopefully there will be an option in the game’s menu to give you full analogue control, although I’m not holding out too much hope since there has never been a Nintendo game that lets you change controls.

Even my ma thinks that I’m crazy


Sticking with the controls, the main other thing of note is the touch-screen. It’s identical to New Super Mario Bros., showing your progress through the game and with one big button to activate your spare power-up. Other than that and the stupid, stupid positioning of the Run button the controls are traditional Mario 64 fare. So very very good. Apart from the Run button. Yes, I will be banging this drum a lot – you try and back-flip in this game, then you’ll see why I hate it so much.

The two levels I played didn’t last me long. I’ve seen reports from the latest playthroughs where people have breezed through the first two Worlds (that’s Worlds, not Stages) and there are only 8 worlds in the whole game. The two Stages I played lasted just a few minutes each, and there is even a damn timer in there like the 2D Mario games. I’ve always hated that timer, it is a large reason why I prefer the 3D Mario games – don’t force people to rush through your game Nintendo. The only times I died was because of that STUPID RUN BUTTON (last time, promise). Have you tried attacking a Piranha Plant in any of the 3D Mario games while just walking? Give it a go, because they are in here and you’re going to have to unless you can press two opposite buttons and hold your 3DS at the same time.

Game Screenshots