When Super Mario 3D World released in 2013, the adventure was widely praised for its exceptional level design, precise gameplay, and chaotic cooperation. However, since debuting on the little-selling Wii U, it’s often overlooked in discussions about the best games in the Mario franchise. Now Nintendo is offering a wider audience the chance to play the awesome 3D adventure (this time with online co-op) while adding a whole new experience to a fun side game called Bowser’s Fury.
The meat of the package is the port of Super Mario 3D World. Almost 100 linear fixed camera scenes await you to run, jump and explore on your own or with up to three friends. Each presents smart gadgets; my favorites include levels based on synchronizing your jumps with the music on endangered platforms, using ever-growing clones to open up new areas, or playing through sections of a scene with just the shadows cast on the walls.
Each level contains many secrets, including collectible stamps and green stars, but power-ups provide the greatest rewards. The Super Bell, which turns Mario and his company into cats, adds some useful melee and climbing abilities. Old favorites like Super Leaf, Boomerang Flower, and Fire Flower offer players a variety of ways to complete platforming challenges and enemy encounters.
Super Mario 3D World is a blast on your own or with others, especially now that online play is an option. Co-op play in platform titles is often fun, but usually hinders your progress due to the sheer chaos of having multiple players trying to reach the same areas. In Super Mario 3D World, those moments still happen – I’ve accidentally picked my co-op partners on several occasions – but your road to the final showdown with Bowser might be easier with friends this time around. It’s all thanks to levels that reward risk-taking, rules that let you treat your co-op partners like a safety net, and areas that give you enough room for four characters.
The changes to Super Mario 3D World are minimal, so if you’re looking for something new, this package also includes a second game called Bowser’s Fury. This extra adventure, which lasts a few hours, picks up the gameplay and power-ups of Super Mario 3D World, but swings the camera behind Mario, removes the individual linear stages, and adds the looming threat of a monstrous form known as by Fury Bowser. This massive, corrupt beast hibernates in the middle of feline-themed Lapcat Lake as you run through a large open area, completing your objectives.
Rather than immersing yourself in a central world and letting you select the scene you want to play out like in 3D World, Bowser’s Fury takes place on an open map with separate islands to explore. These areas feature some of the most enjoyable playgrounds Mario has ever encountered. The most memorable sequences include a maze of pipes, a long ascent on invisible platforms, and a descent course filled with ramps and obstacles where you climb on an ice skate and grab collectibles. You can also use Bowser Jr., who is your ally in this game, to attack enemies and uncover secrets.
The objective structure takes a page from games like Mario 64 and Odyssey, where you are given a mission name and environmental clues to try and earn a Cat Shine, Boswer’s Fury’s main collectible. I loved jumping on moving platforms en route to a boss battle or riding the Plessie water dino to complete various swimming challenges. These missions are exciting in themselves, but the intensity increases when Fury Bowser wakes up.
Every now and then it starts to rain; this is your first sign. Soon, Fury Bowser wakes up to harass you for the next few minutes. Once the beast emerges, all bets are off as Mario’s enjoyable music gives way to a roaring guitar riff and storm clouds block out the sun. Fury Bowser drops spikes and fireballs and stalks you with his fiery breath. While this certainly provides a thrilling experience, if it happens at the wrong time, it also increases frustration; on one occasion, I finally managed to get over a tricky part of a rotating obstacle course, only for Fury Bowser to wake up and knock me down completely. Events like these are rare, but that hasn’t stopped me from cursing his name.
The arrival of Fury Bowser isn’t bad at all, as you can use his attacks to open up areas that contain additional Cat Shines. Additionally, if you have enough Cat Shines when it spawns, you enter a boss battle against the monster. In these showdowns, Mario grows up to equal his longtime opponent as Giga Cat Mario. These battles require you to dodge the all-out offense brought by Fury Bowser and jump at any chance to strike his weakness, whether it’s waiting for him to expose his belly or sending back projectiles to knock him down. These battles can get repetitive, and Bowser gets caught up in the environment at times, but they provide a white knuckle thrill unlike most of the other battles in this two game package.
Getting another chance to revisit Super Mario 3D World (or experience it for the first time) is reason enough to be excited. However, with a great all-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.
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