Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury Review

One of the last great games stranded on the Wii U, Super Mario 3D World finally makes the jump to the Nintendo Switch. As with other Nintendo has included some extras to sweeten the deal. This time, we’re getting online multiplayer, a small chunk of new content that plays wildly different from the main game, and more.

Even with the added extras, is Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury worth picking up, especially if you’re one of the few who bought it on the Wii U?

Let’s start with the core experience. Super Mario 3D World mixes 3D graphics with more linear level design more akin to the 2D Super Mario games. I liked the blending of the two play styles back then and still do to this day. In particular, I like how each level introduces a new wrinkle to the run-and-jump action, keeping the action fresh from beginning-to-end. It’s a light and joyous romp through the Mushroom Kingdom worth experiencing.

Players can bounce around the Mushroom Kingdom as Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Peach, each with slightly different attributes. Mario is the all-around character. Luigi jumps the highest. Toad runs the fastest. Princess Peach has the ability to float. When push comes to shove, I’m going with Peach, though the others are fun as well.

You get the option of different characters because this game supports co-op for up to four players. Though it’s a nice feature to have, co-op in Super Mario games always tends to be a mess due to how chaotic things get. Inadvertent kills and people getting in each other’s way are inevitable, making it more of a mode to enjoy casually at most.

New to the Switch adaptation is online play. Having experienced poor netcode for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Maker 2, I wasn’t expecting this mode to work at all. Even though I could only test online play with my brother who lives a few minute drive from my house, it was…adequate. Certainly not perfect, as it felt like my movements were getting lost here-and-there. But it certainly worked well enough for us, especially when other Nintendo games suck to play online even at this close of a distance. Though I have yet to try playing online from an adequate distance, I would read other reviews to see if it holds up with friends farther away.

Other minor tweaks include a movement speed adjustment and the ability to play the Captain Toad levels as a team. The former does help speed up the game a bit, though I never had any issues with the game’s pacing to begin with. Had it not been pointed out to me, I may have overlooked this entirely. Having multiple Toads running through these puzzle levels does make them much easier to complete, but it’s all worth it when you get to see glasses Toad running with you.

Also included as part of the package is Bowser’s Fury. Chosen separately from the main menu, Bowser’s Fury shares little resemblance with the game it’s bundled with. The experience instead tells its own standalone story where Bowser Jr. enlists Mario to help him clear the paint off of Bowser, which has turned him into a kaiju.

Most jarring is the fact that Bowser’s Fury doesn’t play quite like anything else in the mainline series. Instead, it’s essentially a bite-sized open-world Super Mario game. Everything exists in Lake Lapcat and it proves to be a fascinating experiment. While I enjoyed my time seamlessly traversing this one large space for Cat Shines, it does get a bit repetitive with the lack of scenery changes and Bowser’s periodic appearances mainly serving as an annoyance. Nevertheless, it serves as a neat extra to a great Super Mario game that many missed.

Most Super Mario fans haven’t had the chance to play Super Mario 3D World yet. Now is the time to fix that. Years later, it still stands as a neat addition to the pantheon that blends 2D and 3D Mario in one sweet mix. Online play is a bonus if it manages to work for you.

Besides that, Bowser’s Fury is a rare glimpse at a Nintendo idea that isn’t fully formed. Whether it serves as the foundation for the franchise going forward or ends up being a one-off experiment remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it’s a neat bonus to an otherwise great game.

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