Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is both par for the course with Nintendo’s Wii U-to-Switch offerings and a shining example of one of the best ways to add content to a port in recent memory. It’s become a bit of a running joke over time that the Switch is where Wii U games go to find the success they could have had before, and Nintendo itself has cultivated that mentality with a lot of ports that either just bring all of the existing DLC to the newer hardware, or do that and add in a small amount of extra content for full price. This is something that Nintendo has gotten better at over the years with titles like Pikmin 3 adding in a decent amount of new content – but nothing quite tops what they’ve done to make this incarnation of 3D World one of the best values on the console.
As it stands, 3D World is already one of the best 3D Mario experiences ever. It may not have the grand scale of Odyssey, but it does have an infinitely replayable style thanks to its smaller stages. The A to B design meshes the best of 2D Mario game structure with the open-endedness of a 3D adventure. In many ways, it feels like the ultimate love letter for Mario with its fast-paced gameplay and addition of the cat suit to help with melee combat and traversal. That one suit power-up alone makes the game more action-focused than most Mario games and character movement is a lot more robust here than in other offerings.
One seemingly small change from the Wii U version is the overall character speed. The Wii U game had each of the characters saunter around, whereas everyone moves about 25% faster now. This changes the pacing up a bit and makes it a much faster experience. It does make trickier platforming sections a touch harder, but the game isn’t loaded to the brim with them. Sections that used the touchscreen now use R and the gyroscope on the Joycons or Pro controller.
You can also now roll in mid-air to dive bomb enemies or avoid fire right away. It’s a nice traversal improvement and ground pound jumping has been made a lot easier with more lax timing and a more natural flow. Captain Toad sections are a better experience now because they’re multiplayer – and as long as your friends don’t mess with the camera, you’re in great shape. The overall flow of the game has been improved and it feels like a more polished experience from top to bottom.
Mario 3D World remains one of the most fun entries in series history and this Switch re-releases makes it even better. There’s so much content to enjoy and replay – things like collectible stars and stamps you can use for the all-new photo mode – that I could honestly recommend this game even as a full-priced port on its own without any additional content just to have it on the go. However, Nintendo went above and beyond with the addition of Bowser’s Fury. This all-new gauntlet of stages sends you to a new island with Bowser Jr. out to recruit Mario to help save Bowser.
Mario’s most legendary foe has been overtaken by a dark energy that has made him gigantic and able to throw massive fireballs and cause storms to appear. This results in an impressive sense of scale that isn’t often seen in Mario games as you start off as regular Mario seeing this behemoth lurching around only to be knocked out in short battles and then popping back up to cause mayhem every six minutes. The goal is to activate as many lighthouses as possible, obtain cat shines to keep him at bay, and eventually topple him in various battles in a giga cat suit – think the mega mushroom, but bigger and more cat suit-y.
The new obstacle course sections are very reminiscent of the FLUDD-less areas in Mario Sunshine and test your platforming skills hard from an early stage. Whether it’s traversing cage panel puzzles within a time limit or wall jumping to a certain point, you’re given a lot of challenges quickly to make sure that your skills are up to snuff. The cat shines are hidden plain sight in some cases, but usually have to be earned either by traversal or by having Bowser come into play and using his flame attacks to take out a block and thus grabbing a hidden shine there. The more shines you get, the more lighthouses you can activate to get to new battles against Bowser. Bowser Jr. is able to help you a lot and can find power-ups to make the journey a bit easier. Players can also store up to five of every kind of power-up found in 3D World at a time. This is a fantastic inventory system and it’s managed easily with simple button commands to grab them and use them at your leisure.
Bowser’s Fury winds up offering up the same kind of game feel as 3D World, but it’s a bit more rewarding here since the stakes are so much larger – as is the world. The scope of the adventure is bigger, but keeps the pick-up-and-play style that makes 3D World so fun and such a perfect fit on the Switch. There’s enough meat in this proof of concept to make a whole game like this – and hopefully that happens down the road.
For a 2013 release, 3D World has held up nicely and benefits from a resolution bump on Switch. This enables things like textures to look better, and adds a bit of polish to the presentation with effects for photo mode. The framerate is locked-in at 60 in docked mode and 30 in portable mode – but looks fantastic overall. It’s a testament to Nintendo’s cartoony art style that a game from a little over seven years ago still holds up nicely and Bowser’s Fury looks even better. Its mix of bright, cheery stages and then the almost-immediate contrast to terror is made more impressive thanks to the use of darkened skies, thunder, fire and weather effects hitting the world.
The soundtrack is great, with 3D World’s existing OST holding up, but Bowser’s Fury steals the show again. The sense of terror you feel hearing Bowser coming is unmatched in the series so far. Nothing has gotten to this point yet – and we’ve had some pretty epic Mario vs. giant Bowser battles over the past 30+ years and none top the ones offered up in Fury. It’s a great-looking and sounding game that should be fun to play, look at, and hear for many years to come.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is one of the best values on the Switch. It goes above and beyond the usual port jobs to create a whole new experience – one that fits the platform perfectly. You can easily lose hours playing stages to completion or kick back for five minutes and play a single stage in portable mode and have a blast. This is a very versatile adventure and one that all past and present fans of Mario should pick up.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
This review is based on a physical copy of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury for the Nintendo Switch purchased by the reviewer.