With the release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury on the Nintendo Switch, one of the last few holdouts on the Wii U has been ported over yet again. I think the lone two remaining holdouts are Xenoblade Chronicles X and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Don’t worry, I’m sure both of those will be re-released later this year. For now, let’s talk about a slightly upgraded port of a game and a whole new short game as well.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury: Come For 3D Mario, Stay for Angry Bowser
Platform: Nintendo Switch [Reviewed]
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Genre: 3D Platformer
Players: 1-4 (local/online co-op)
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Price: $59.99 (USD)
Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World is a pretty interesting game. It’s nominally a 3D platformer and while it is in 3D and a platformer, it’s not what you’d expect. The camera kind of exists on a 2D plane so while you control Mario (or others) in 3D, the camera has some locked positions. It’s an interesting perspective but can lead to some issues.
Generally speaking, every level has 3 Green Stars for you to collect. You can just blow through a level and not collect any but you need the stars to open the boss levels on the overworld map so they are a bit important. Most levels also include a stamp to collect also. While this isn’t required, you can still get them to add stamps and items to photo mode pictures you take.
Suits and Powers
3D World is a bit of a throwback Mario game so you actually have access to different suits and power-ups. There are the usual mainstays like Mushroom, Fire Flower, and the Tanooki Suit. However, it also adds a few new ones, with one being especially key.
The most important new one is the Cat Suit. Basically, this turns Mario into a cat, where he can hang on walls, climb up them (somewhat), and pounce on enemies. The reason this suit is so important is the wall-climbing ability, you’ll frequently find stars on the tops of walls in a level.
There is also a Boomerang Flower that lets Mario chuck boomerangs around. Plus, a Double Cherry which clones your character, which is used in some puzzle-themed levels. Finally, there are a few super variants of items, notably the Cat Suit and Tanooki Suit, which are more powerful than the regular kind. You are allowed to wear one suit and keep one in reserve, so if you get damaged you can bring it out at any time.
3D World sort of harkens back to Super Mario Bros 2 by letting you pick between the four main characters, Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the Princess. Of course, there are good and bad things about each. Mario is the average character, with average speed, jumping power, stopping power, etc. Nothing about him is exceptional but he’s good for all-around use.
Luigi jumps the highest but is also a bit wild. He is a tad faster than Mario but also can’t stop as well.
Toad is basically the inverse of Luigi. He is the fastest character but has the smallest jump. It’s not completely tiny but you do notice a difference between him and Luigi.
And finally, Princess has the same general speed and jump as Mario but has her trademark ability to float in the air, a bit. This is pretty gimped compared to Mario Bros. 2, it doesn’t last too long but still can be useful if you need it.
Aside from the main levels, there are some additional things to do on the overworld map. There are a few bonus houses, one is for items, the other is for lives. There are also Captain Toad levels too, which are way more puzzle-like in nature, where you can collect stars. Not to mention, there are small battle arenas for you also to get stars. Nothing super deep, but it can keep you busy for a while.
Honestly, my biggest problems with 3D World are two-fold. The first is that I’m not entirely sold on the camera perspective. There are certainly areas where it pulls out a bit, and you do always have some limited control, but it’s not enough. Often times things are obscured by the camera or your perspective so you end up missing objects.
This leads us to issue two, you basically have to replay most levels twice in order to collect everything. Unless you explore every nook and cranny, you’ll likely miss at least one star (or the stamp) as you play through a level. So you play through the level once in a normal setting, and then again with a Youtube guide pulled up showing where you missed items.
Doug Bowser reigns supreme in this new game! Wait, it’s not Doug Bowser? Dammit, foiled again! Well, that other Bowser shows up here in this thing.
Bowser’s Fury is honestly kind of hard to classify. It’s not DLC because it’s not downloadable. It’s not an expansion because the gameplay is wildly different than 3D World, or most other Mario games for that matter. For all intents and purposes, it is a new game but it’s kind of micro-sized. You won’t beat it in 20 minutes or anything but it’s not as fully featured or long as most Mario games. You could probably get it baseline completed in 3 to 4 hours and 100 percent it in about double that time, or perhaps a bit less.
The Crux of the Game & A Furious Open World
In the Bowser’s Fury portion of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, Bowser gets corrupted with (even more) evil and becomes gigantic and uncontrollable. This evil goop (which I imagine is from Super Mario Sunshine) also manages to pollute the world. Bowser Jr. decides to team up with Mario to rescue his dad and stop any more of the pollution from spreading.
This may be a Mario first, but Bowser’s Fury is an open-world game. Most 3D Mario games, and yes, Bowser’s Fury is the usual 3D Mario perspective game, has basically a hub area or lobby where the levels are spun-off from it. Mario Odyssey didn’t have this, perse, but you still had to generally travel on the space ship from area to area which were vastly different zones.
Fury is a much smaller game, all taking place in this lake environment. The only real borders are the polluted areas and they get cleared out fairly quickly. There are basically four main areas in the game world, each having a slightly different gimmick (one is a big climbable tower, one is a battle arena), but they have elements in common with one another.
Mad Mario: Fury Road
Along with the game being open-world, the other new element here is Bowser himself. Bowser, in a Godzilla-like form, wakes up every five minutes or so and starts wrecking everything. The weather gets stormy, animals turn evil, and Bowser starts shooting fire beams and hurling rocks at you. The way to deal with this is to find a Cat Shine which powers up the various lighthouses in the area and subdues him for another five minutes.
There are three Giga Bell’s in the world, which you also power up with the Cat Shines. You’ll need 10 or 20 to power-up the Giga Bell but once it’s activated, you can use it to turn into Giant Cat Mario and face Bowser one-on-one. These boss fights are all very similar, aside from the final one, and it becomes routine after a while.
Each of the four main areas has five goals per zone but a few of them are fairly generic. The first is basically “run through the area to get to the end”, which gives you a basic understanding of the level gimmicks. Each place has five Cat Shine Shards for you to collect which makes another Shine, each area has a blue coin challenge (for another shine), or has a locked birdcage with a shine in it and you’ll need to find the key to get to it. One island pretty much only has battle arenas though, so it’s slightly different.
However, you almost have to do things in sequence. You can pretty much do the “Find five Cat Shine Shards” at any time, but most of them lead into one another to some degree. For example, you won’t have access to the Blue Coin challenge until you do the “get to the end of the area” Shine quest first.
One Shine goal each area also has are Fury Blocks. These are blocks that can ONLY be broken apart by Bowser’s laser attack, when he comes out. This goal just plain sucks. Largely, because it just involves you standing around waiting for Bowser to spawn so he can do it. You don’t want to get too far away because it’ll be a hassle to get back to where you need to be. So you just stand there and wait for the weather to change and for him to show up only for a few minutes at a time.
I know there is some Amiibo way of spawning him instantly but that honestly feels like cheating. It would be better to just not have a forced wait for this goal at all.
Aside from the four main areas, the lake itself has plenty of Shines for you to get. You ride Plessie (basically a baby Loch Ness Monster) around between islands. It has its own race goals and can also ferry you to unexplored parts of the map which might have a Shine or two on them.
One great addition here is the item reserve. In 3D World, you can only hold one additional suit/power-up. In Fury, you can hold: Cat Bell, Mushroom, Boomerang Flower, Fire Flower, Tanooki Suit, and a Super Cat Bell all at the same time. Plus, you can hold five of each, and swap them out at any time.
Furthermore, let’s say you’re Cat Mario and you need the Fire Flower for an enemy encounter. If you swap to a Flower, your Cat suit gets put back into your reserve automatically, which is very generous.
Life Doesn’t Matter & Bowser’s Jr Helps
An interesting thing about this game is that there really aren’t any lives. If you manage to get hit when you are little Mario, you fall down but just respawn at the start of the area. The only real penalty is losing whatever suit you may have had on. If you get 100 coins, a random suit/power is just be added to your reserve.
While Fury has a two-player mode, I don’t have access to it. Bowser Jr. becomes an A.I.-controlled character who fights alongside you. You can set his behavior in the options about how effective you want him to be or not.
You can also directly control him in certain spots. Occasionally, you’ll find faded paintings in the world. You can point to them, using motion controls, and he will splash paint on them to bring them back to life. These amount to power-ups or coin pipes, but hey, every little bit helps.
Aside from the Fury Blocks nonsense, there are also a few warts here and there but nothing as bad as in 3D World.
For one, getting around the lake can be a drag. Plessie controls reasonably fine but you can’t set a waypoint or anything. It would be nice if I could just set a marker on an island or a question mark, so I wouldn’t have to pull up the map every 10 seconds to make sure I’m going the right way.
Also, it’s not quite explained what actually is going on in the story. For example, what caused Bowser to get so huge or where the evil oil came from. Obviously, This is pretty minor stuff, but I was still lost on the machinations of what was happening.
Mario 3D World Overall Thoughts
I appreciate the novelty of 3D World but it’s still too much of a throwback game for me. Apparently, the Wii U version was slower, which would have driven me up a wall, considering this version isn’t exactly fast. It’s a perfectly serviceable game but it’s just not that exciting or challenging enough.
Bowser’s fury Overall Thoughts
I enjoyed my time with Bowser’s Fury a lot more than I thought I would, especially given the packed-in nature of it. It’s a fairly unique twist on the Mario formula that probably couldn’t support a full length game but in this format, it works shockingly well. It also has enough quality of life improvements to make it enjoyable as well.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury as a Package
If I was going to score each game individually, I’d probably gave 3D World a 7.0 and Bowser’s Fury a 9.0, So an in-between for both is about right. 3D World is a good enough Mario game but Bowser’s Fury, even if short, is a blast to play. There probably won’t be another 3D Mario game on the Switch for a long while so this may be it until they make an Odyssey 2.