Release Date : Feb 12, 2021
Developers : Nintendo EAD Tokyo, 1-Up Studio
Publisher : Nintendo
Platforms : Nintendo Switch, Wii U
Do you remember Super Mario 3D World? Originally released on Wii U in November 2013, this episode in true-false 3D seduced the fans who were tired of the old “New Super Mario Bros”, which was worn out to excess, despite a camera angle that was sometimes a little distant and limited, due to the lack of freedom in its rotation. After the easy and obvious commercial success of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe two years ago on Nintendo Switch, a portage seemed to be necessary to see this project, definitely better than New Super Mario Bros. U, returns to the spotlight. But this time, it is not alone and comes with Bowser’s Fury, a ( gameplay mode) never seen before, independent from the basic title, attractive at first sight and whose only concern was its lifetime.
In 2019, the New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe compilation didn’t take too many risks, simply bringing together one of the very first titles of the legendary Wii U and its stand-alone, the rather tough New Super Luigi U. Its exclusive additions were anecdotal, to say the least, and as a result, there was a legitimate expectation that Super Mario 3D World would eventually return to Nintendo Switch, but without any major new features. Well, after a few “lazy” porting in recent years (think of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD or more recently, Pikmin 3 Deluxe), Nintendo decided to surprise its world by including not an additional world or a new playable character, but a complete stand-alone game mode presented as dense enough to justify the cash register.
SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD DELUXE
The truth is that Super Mario 3D World alone already justified the purchase: much more complete (and complex!) than New Super Mario Bros. U, this excellent arcade remained one of the best Wii U exclusives to this day, and it was still amazing not to have seen him pointing the tip of his snout (and his mustache) at Nintendo’s new hybrid console. We’re not going to tell you that we were expecting a faithful and efficient porting just offering a gameplay complement like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but we would have been almost satisfied, so much it would have been a pleasure to get back even the excellent original game! Just remember that Super Mario 3D World is simply one of the best episodes of the series, with a clever level design, a very inspired soundtrack, and a very long lifespan, helped by huge replayability, both solo, and cooperative. In fact, since we’re talking about a multiplayer game, this new edition literally transfigures the multiplayer game, and that’s far from being its only novelty.
Indeed, co-op is now available online for up to 4 players (which was limited to local use in the original game), and it also includes the levels of Captain Toad that were previously reserved for solo play. This makes an already very user-friendly title even more user-friendly! This new edition also tweaks the gameplay a little bit, which took advantage of the Wii U tablet. The rare passages requiring the use of touch will use the same functions in the nomad mode, and we’ll use the gyroscope with a pointer associated with the “R” button in TV mode (Super Mario Galaxy porting style in Super Mario 3D All-Stars), and those that invited us to blow into the microphone of the “mablette” have obviously been modified: here, no more propeller grill to make it rise, but just automated mobile platforms, since we couldn’t use this gimmick anyway, which is a bit outdated. Finally, the played character can no longer be moved with the directional cross (either with a Pro pad or at the joy-con), the movement axes seem to have been multiplied compared to the 2013 game. The camera angles remain the same, however, to the point of frustrating a little bit in the very nice photo mode imported from Super Mario Odyssey, a nice new feature allowing to find a use for the nearly 100 collectible stamps (the latter were used at the time on the good old Miiverse).
In addition, there are a few other improvements that should be noted, and we had already highlighted them in our overview of the game. First of all, Super Mario 3D World is now displayed in full HD resolution (1080p instead of 720p on Wii U) and has a constant framerate of 60 frames per second (60fps), both in TV mode and in portable mode (where it switches, inevitably, to 720p). So it is still as fluid as ever but above all a little prettier, more detailed, and less “blurred” than before. However, its fluidity is much more noticeable than in 2013: indeed, in addition to a few small navigation adjustments in the menus and the map, the game is much faster and more dynamic in the character’s movements, to the point of finishing each level much faster than at the time.
In addition, a new movement has been added among the already rich palette of jumps and slides of Mario and his companions, and to top it all off, it will finally be possible to skip the cinematics, which the original title did not allow. You’ll be dealing with an exceptional arcade in its most enjoyable form to play with, because it’s a little more ergonomic and, above all, more vibrant. You’ll enjoy a 15-hour game to finish it, and at least three times that amount to complete it 100%. Super Mario 3D World is distinguished by a particularly generous and even regularly surprising post-end content. And that’s not all…
After our first contact with Bowser’s Fury, we had the confirmation that the one that initially presented itself as a bonus game mode (yet independent from Super Mario 3D World) was in fact… a real game in its own right, with a very refreshing and promising concept! Whereas a certain Luigi Bros. already present in the 2013 title is indeed a simple mini-game to be unlocked on the title screen of the latter, Bowser’s Fury is clearly separate from it. To the point of wondering whether it could not simply have been marketed separately… However, we still had to clear up a certain doubt as to its lifespan: after such a satisfying dish, does it play in the court of generous desserts or quickly shipped digestives?
SUPER MARIO: BREATH OF THE WILD
By collecting feline stars, Mario was going to make Lake Saudechat navigable little by little and bring back its archipelago of islands to life, prey to a viscous dark matter spread by a Bowser as gigantic as it is cowardly, hiding in the center of the lake most of the time. In short, the more stars we unlock, the more we turn on the lights and reestablish the light in order to clear the threat. A classic formula, in short, which has proven its worth, and which we are quite satisfied within what is, after all, only a “compliment” to Super Mario 3D World. However, the real surprise of Bowser’s Fury lies in the depth of its structure, and its surprisingly open design. Indeed, if it uses the gameplay basis of the former Wii U star title, we’ll soon discover that it’s more on the side of Super Mario Sunshine or even Super Mario Odyssey… of which it could very well have been a very good additional content!
If we had understood that this was a separate game, we could almost have offered you an independent test, we had no idea that it would be so ambitious. So it only takes 3 to 4 hours to complete it, and more or less double that time to complete it at 100%, but it’s still very honorable, especially since there are no fill-ups or downtime, and the whole thing is very dynamic! Most of all, and this is where we didn’t expect it: Bowser’s Fury is simply the largest open-world Mario has ever played in, free of any kind of load, where the entire space to be explored is in one piece. You’ll find yourself in a vast “hub” connecting dozens of islands with vastly different landscapes and crowds, and you’ll be able to swim to all of them – although it’s highly recommended that you use your companion Plessie for this purpose.
BOWSER JR., AN ENEMY THAT WANTS THE BEST FOR YOU
The friendly plesiosaurus, which will greatly simplify your navigation and will be regularly used to conquer many bonus feline stars, will not be your only ally in this world that looks like the forgotten DLC of Super Mario Odyssey. Bowser Jr. will also come to your aid, in the form of a companion NPC that you can set its assistance’ level… or which a second player will be able to control. In this case, his role will be very limited and not very exciting, similar to Cappy’s role in Super Mario Odyssey, again. The title is intended for everyone, so you will be able to play it in cooperation with a young child or an adult who is not used to video games. On the solo side, in addition to the Amiibo, which is a bit too generous if you have a large collection, the assistance of Bowser Jr. might spoil the pleasure of exploring a bit, and we suggest you to disable it and only use the gyroscopic (or tactile if you’re playing on a laptop) controls when necessary, as to make surprises appear from the wall, or even to give brushstrokes to the enemies around you if there are too many of them.
Bowser Jr. won’t help you in the main fights against his father, however, where you’ll turn into the Giga Mario Cat. To do so, you’ll have to wait until Bowser enters “Fury” mode – which is triggered when his blackened shell emerges completely from the lake over the course of minutes of play – and reach the Giga Bell of Sands provided you’ve unlocked enough feline stars to ring it.
This phase of “Bowser in Fury” is nothing more and nothing less than a “storm” version of the game’s open world, where you can continue to explore the levels and the lake as you wish, but under the constant threat of a giant and perfectly invincible enemy. Indeed, Bowser will only disappear when he finds a star… or when he returns to the lake on his own after a while, making the rain and darkness disappear with him. Note that you can provoke this “fury” mode with one of the three existing Amiibo in his effigy, whose individual use is fortunately tempered by a more than welcome cooldown so as not to abuse it.
Of course, considering the trailers, we had the right to expect a lot of these passages where we embody what is in fact a Lion Mario. We won’t say too much to keep the suspense alive, but these much-anticipated sequences of the top confrontation are as exciting as they are a little soft, although technically impressive. Strangely enough, the so-called “Bowser in Fury” phases generate a few framerate falls that jump out quickly as the rest is so stable and solid for an open world in 60fps.
Finally… if you play in TV mode, because in the nomad version, the title, unfortunately, meets its technical limitations and goes to a 30fps lock which disappoints a bit after having experimented with it in docker. In both cases, moreover, the game only requires a 720p resolution (unlike the 1080p of Super Mario 3D World in TV mode), a concession that is probably mandatory to keep the desired framerate in TV mode: which inevitably leads to rather a pronounced aliasing, especially on the big screens. Apart from these small technical weaknesses and a real lack of difficulty – two points that won’t particularly bother the general public – there’s not much to say about this “game within the game”, which proves to be pleasant to explore, really complete, and with a rather original and very satisfying gameplay concept. To the point of wondering if, in the end, there wouldn’t be something to reuse it at Nintendo’s side?
A PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE?
In 2013, Super Mario 3D World had a good idea to include some very nice extra levels, and at the original design level: the Captain Toad levels. Given their popularity among players, it was not surprising to find this gameplay mechanic at the service of dozens of new levels, in a complete game released under the name of Captain Toad Treasure Tracker one year later (and which was then re-released on Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch). This raises a legitimate question, after the questioning about the DLC status of Super Mario Odyssey may have been postponed… and if Bowser’s Fury, although dissociated from the game it was ported to, was also a kind of life-size demo aimed at promoting a future game in its own right? The concept is indeed very appealing and even if our experience has brought to light some technical worries for a project of this scale, nothing says that it would be unthinkable to convert it into a real game… and this time, without having to graft it to the porting of a rich title that doesn’t quite share the same technical features.
Super Mario 3D World and Bowser’s Fury go so well together! With on one hand a perfect porting, improving with as much finesse as relevance an arcade game already excels in all points, and on the other hand, a real original game with very fresh and surprising gameplay, this re-release of one of the best opus of the saga proves to be a real must-have on Nintendo Switch. While not all Wii U versions are the same, and many of them don’t necessarily justify a new investment at a high price, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is one of the best games of the Nintendo Switch to date and will convince the old fans of the original game as well as the new players. And who knows, depending on the reaction to Bowser’s Fury, Nintendo may see it as an opportunity to offer a complete and 100% new experience in the future!