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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
3D World is clever and fantastic
Bowser's Fury is a cool new twist
Colorful, vibrant graphics
Multiplayer is loads of fun
Some awkward camera bits
Super Mario 3D World might not be brand new, but it’s still a delight—and Bowser’s Fury is an exciting cat-fueled complement.
Nintendo provided us with a review code for one of our writers to test. Read on for the full take.
The Nintendo Switch’s popularity has made it a new home to some of the Wii U’s best games, and while it may not seem terribly exciting to hail a bunch of ports from one console to another, it is an opportunity to appreciate wonderful games that were overlooked on Nintendo’s middling last-gen platform. Nintendo has arguably saved one of the greatest for the latest: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.
Originally released in 2013, Super Mario 3D World delivered a hugely entertaining entry in the platform-hopping series that paired 3D navigation with compact level designs, plus the ability to play with up to four people at once. It’s a lively adventure with plenty of variety packed within, and this Switch re-release has something new in store: a small, standalone game called Bowser’s Fury that offers a different take on the 3D Mario experience. All told, it’s an essential package for Mario fans, even if the largest chunk of it is ultimately repackaged.
Story is usually little more than a jumping-off point and window dressing for Mario’s platform adventures, and that’s true again with Super Mario 3D World. Mario and his pals discover a little fairy princess that says her counterparts have been kidnapped by Bowser, so you hop into a glass pipe and travel through a series of interconnected worlds—each filled with compact levels to complete—to try and free them from the villain’s grasp. It’s all very typical Mario fare.
Bowser’s Fury, on the other hand, sees Bowser transformed into an even more aggressive, super-sized version of himself—and little Bowser Jr., concerned about his pops, recruits Mario to help figure out what’s changed. Again, the plot is just a thin layer here atop the action to help move things alone, but their interactions are charming.
Super Mario 3D World builds upon the distinctive approach established in Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS but goes much larger and more diverse in its design. What’s similar is the feel and flow of levels, which are more akin to the classic 2D side-scrolling Mario stages in design and navigation, complete with a semi-fixed camera.
It’s a fun hybrid that brings in the best of both 2D and 3D Mario games, and Nintendo puts it to great use in exploring lots of creative and sometimes downright goofy ideas. Even within the themed worlds, the individual levels often feel widely different in terms of look, navigation, and challenges. They’re also peppered with unique power-ups, such as a little bell that transforms your character into a cat—complete with pounce attack—or twin cherries that multiply your character and force you to control up to several of them at once. There are also fun brain-teasing puzzle missions where you play as Captain Toad, rotating the world to figure out the paths to collect all of the green stars.
The 2D-meets-3D design occasionally frustrates with awkward camera angles or precise jumping challenges that you don’t have a great view for, but those instances are thankfully few and far between. Otherwise, Super Mario 3D World is a blast to play through, whether you’re going solo or bringing in friends—local or now online in the Switch version—for a more raucous romp.
It’s a fun hybrid that brings in the best of both 2D and 3D Mario games, and Nintendo puts it to great use in exploring lots of creative and sometimes downright goofy ideas.
Bowser’s Fury feels like an entirely different game. It reuses graphics from 3D World and leans heavily into the Cat Mario idea with adorable feline-themed environmental design, but instead is a fully 3D Mario experience with a controllable camera. More notably, it all takes place within an open world that you can freely explore at will, almost akin to the way the Switch’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild shook up that legendary series’ own familiar framework.
It’s not an enormous world—it’s like a super-sized level from Super Mario Odyssey on Switch—but you’re free to skip around between the islands completing the little platforming and collecting challenges. Bowser occasionally rages out and transforms the island’s friendly inhabitants into monsters while sending flaming fireballs your way, and sometimes you’ll use a giant cat bell to become a super-sized Cat Mario and battle the enormous foe. I love the looseness of the approach; unlike the timed and sometimes tense 3D World challenges, Bowser’s Fury mostly lets you play at your own pace.
Unlike the timed and sometimes tense 3D World challenges, Bowser’s Fury mostly lets you play at your own pace.
There’s a lot here to play through. Super Mario 3D World serves up 12 total worlds and several dozen total levels and challenges within them, not to mention plenty of collectibles in the form of green stars and charming stamps. The levels can also feel very different based on whether you’re playing solo or with friends, so there’s a lot of incentive to play through everything multiple times if you’re a completionist.
Bowser’s Fury is smaller in scale, and you might get through a basic playthrough within a few hours, but once again completionists can surely squeeze quite a bit more out of it.
There’s a lot of incentive to play through everything multiple times if you’re a completionist.
Super Mario 3D World hasn’t seen any kind of noticeable graphical upgrade, but that’s no complaint: this colorful, cartoonish game looks like it could’ve just been released for the first time. The Switch isn’t much more powerful than the Wii U, but it’s not the power that matters: Nintendo’s charming art design is timeless.
Even though the camera perspective is different, Bowser’s Fury reuses a lot of the same core assets as Super Mario 3D World, so there’s no big aesthetic shift between them.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury carries an “Everyone” rating from the ESRB for “Mild Cartoon Violence,” and there’s nothing here that would shock fans of the Super Mario series. It’s bright and colorful, and the violence is limited to hopping on enemies’ heads, knocking them out with spinning turtle shells, and other similarly goofy actions.
Released at $60, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is priced the same as any other major new Switch game. Let’s be honest: fans probably would’ve paid full price for a straight re-release of the robust Super Mario 3D World on its own, and it would’ve been worth it. But with the added Bowser’s Fury alongside, this feels like a well-considered package that can keep Switch owners playing for a long time.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is another Mario game ported over from the Wii U, and it’s also another Mario game that supports up to four players at once. The difference is that while Super Mario 3D World feels like a blend of 2D and 3D Mario elements, New Super Mario Bros.
U Deluxe really is a traditional 2D side-scrolling game—albeit with 3D visuals. Both are fun whether playing solo or with pals, but Super Mario 3D World is a fresher-feeling game and a more robust overall package, with Bowser’s Fury serving as the extra cherry on top.
Don’t miss it, Switch owners.
One of the best modern Mario games hits the Switch in fine form after all these years, and the package is made even better by the inclusion of the compelling new Bowser’s Fury mini-campaign. It’s not a completely brand new Mario or a true successor to the brilliant Super Mario Odyssey, but Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury still delivers a treasure trove of fun for Switch owners.
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