If there’s anything that can be taken away from Nintendo’s showcase at E3 is that they like playing it safe. Established franchises are refreshed with new games, and even after years of re-inventions of an almost 30 year old gameplay formula and putting Mario in countless different styles of games, the series is still as strong and popular as ever.
Super Mario 3D World is pretty much an iteration of Super Mario 3D Land, only now on WiiU. That’s really good news for those of us who have been eagerly waiting for something besides the ‘New’ series, which frankly, have run its course, with more than four releases in a short amount of time.
3D Land worked extremely well as an updated version of Super Mario 64, adding actual depth to the world exploration. ‘World takes what was established in that very short but rewarding game and puts it all in a relatively bigger map, as a WiiU game.
Showcased at E3, the biggest addition to the sub series – let’s call it that since it’s a series within the gargantuan Super Mario catalog – aside from multiplayer that adds more character choices to the game, changing the way they play, like having Luigi’s jump being floatier than the rest of the cast’s, is the new cat suit.
The kitty suit plays differently than other animal themed power-ups previously featured in Super Mario games due to how it changes how Mario (or whoever is using) moves within the world, by allowing him/her/it to freely climb cliff sides. Or, by having them walk on all fours like a cat, run much faster than the usual running speed, as well as scratch enemies, the bane of all goombas, koopas or mushroom alike.
Granted, in the grand scheme of things within the Super Mario franchise, a cat suit seems like the next addition likely to join the random list of power-ups that have since been added to the series since the otherwise excellent Super Mario Galaxy games. On the other hand, it’s still early to tell what other goodies Nintendo will be adding to the game.
From my impressions of the demo at the show floor, playing as a cat felt like an upgrade that fit into the game rather than a dumb addition, thanks to smart level design that at least in the demo, made incredible use of Mario’s newly added feline skills.
Setting aside fat cat jokes aside, it just makes sense to see Nintendo’s flagship character choose to play as a more mobile animal than previous choices, although, in all sense, a flying raccoon or a mythical badger that turns into stone make for fun features in a game, certainly going way out in terms of design originality. Then again, for every Tanooki suit, we get a Rock mushroom dud.
Who knows where Nintendo could go from here? As far as we are concerned, Super Mario 3D World is already looking like a lot of fun, even though, unfortunately, it’s still only stated as ‘coming soon in 2014’ title. WiiU certainly needs a boost, for sure.