When Super Mario 3D World was released in 2013, the adventure was widely praised for its outstanding level design, accurate gameplay, and chaotic collaboration. However, since it debuted on the badly selling Wii U, it is often overlooked in discussions about the best games in the Mario franchise. Now Nintendo is offering a wider audience the opportunity to play the great 3D adventure (this time with online co-op), while offering a whole new experience in a fun side game called Bowser’s Fury.
The meat of the packaging is the port of Super Mario 3D World. Almost 100 linear stages with fixed cameras are waiting for you to run, jump, and explore alone or with up to three friends. Everyone presents clever gadgets; My favorites include levels based on how you control your jumps with the music across disappearing platforms, using more and more clones to open up new areas, or playing through sections of a stage with only the shadows on the walls.
Each level contains tons of secrets, including stamps and green stars, but the power-ups offer the greatest rewards. The Super Bell, which turns Mario and his company into cats, provides useful hand-to-hand combat and climbing skills. Old favorites like Super Leaf, Boomerang Flower and Fire Flower offer players a variety of ways to face platform challenges and enemy encounters.
Super Mario 3D World is great for yourself or for others, especially now that online gaming is an option. Cooperative gameplay on platform titles is often fun, but it usually hampers your progress due to the chaos of multiple players trying to reach the same areas. In Super Mario 3D World, those moments still occur – I accidentally picked up my co-op partners more than a couple of times – but your path to the final showdown with Bowser might be easier with friends this time around. That’s all thanks to levels that reward risk-taking, rules that allow you to treat your co-op partners like a safety net, and areas where you have enough room for four characters.
The improvements to Super Mario 3D World are minimal. So if you’re looking for something new, this pack also includes a second game called Bowser’s Fury. This additional adventure, which lasts a few hours, takes up the gameplay and power-ups of Super Mario 3D World, but pans the camera behind Mario, removes the individual linear phases and adds the looming threat of a monstrous form known as Fury Bowser is. This massive, corrupt animal hibernates in the middle of the cat-themed Lake Lapcat while you run through a large open area and reach goals.
Instead of taking you into a hub world and choosing the stage you want to play like in 3D World, Bowser’s Fury takes place on an open map with different islands for you to explore. These areas offer some of the most beautiful playgrounds Mario has ever seen. Some of the most memorable sequences include a maze of pipes, a long climb on invisible platforms, and a descent full of ramps and obstacles where you ice skate and grab collectibles. You can also use Bowser Jr. who is your ally in this game to attack enemies and reveal secrets.
The objective structure comes from games like Mario 64 and Odyssey, where you are given a mission name and environmental advice in order to earn a Cat Shine, the main collectible in Boswer’s rage. I loved jumping over moving platforms on the way to a boss battle or riding the Plessie water dinosaur to complete various swimming challenges. These missions are exciting in their own right, but the intensity increases when Fury Bowser wakes up.
Every now and then it starts to rain; This is your first sign. Fury Bowser will soon wake up to molest you for the next few minutes. As soon as the beast shows up, all bets are closed as the pleasant Mario music gives way to a roaring guitar riff and storm clouds block the sun. Fury Bowser drops spikes and fireballs and pursues you with his fiery breath. This is certainly an exhilarating experience, but when it happens at the wrong time it also increases frustration. Once, I finally made it past a difficult section of a rotating obstacle course, only to wake Fury Bowser up and let myself fall all the way down. Such occurrences are rare, but that didn’t stop me from cursing his name.
Fury Bowser’s arrival isn’t entirely bad as you can use his attacks to open up areas with additional cat shine. If you’ve got enough cat shine when he appears, you’ll step into a boss fight against the giant. In these encounters, Mario grows to match his longtime opponent as Giga Cat Mario. These fights require you to dodge the all-out offensive launched by Fury Bowser and pounce on every chance to meet his weakness, whether he’s waiting to expose his lower abdomen or returning projectiles to knock him down. These battles can be repetitive and Bowser gets caught up in the environment at times, but unlike most of the other battles in this two-game package, it offers a thrill.
Another chance to revisit (or experience it for the first time) Super Mario 3D World is reason enough to be excited. With an excellent brand new game joining the Wii U port, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is a compelling option for anyone who wants more Mario in their life.