Nintendo decided to go with something completely different this time around. Instead of the usual E3 Press Conference, this year they decided to air a 41-minute E3 2013 Nintendo Direct Broadcast featuring Wii U titles for the near future. One of the few titles announced among that relatively short period of time, was Super Mario 3D World, a 3D Mario “action” game whose origins can obviously be found in the Nintendo 3DS title Super Mario 3D Land. It’s the first time up to four players can play together at once in a 3D Mario game.
So, what’s up with that exactly? Another 3D Mario title revealed, Mario’s first 3D adventure in HD, how could there possibly be a problem? While a good amount of people obviously cannot wait to play it, I can’t help but feel rather bummed out and disappointed. It could simply be because I was one of the people who expected something big, something that “innovates” and changes the Mario series for the better. I literally felt absolutely no excitement coming out of me when I watched that trailer shown in the Nintendo Direct, no excitement or anticipation whatsoever. Almost nothing about that game shouted “wow” to me.
Super Mario 3D World looks (at a technical level) nicer than Mario has ever been, but that’s nothing to be excited about, especially not with the circumstances at hand. Why? Because the game basically looks like an increased resolution version of Super Mario 3D Land from the Nintendo 3DS with some higher polygon count, higher IQ and larger areas! That’s it, it’s literally not amazing-looking at all! I can recall the excitement of seeing Super Mario Sunshine for the first time, it looked amazing, fresh, new, I wanted to play it then and there when I saw the trailer. Super Mario Galaxy looked literally and figuratively out of this world, the art style combined with Nintendo magic made the game look absolutely stunning.
What Nintendo showed for their 2nd and 3rd 3D Mario titles to show off what their hardware could do made one believe that they actually cared about creating a game that looks visually stunning. That’s not to say that SM3DW doesn’t look nice, it most certainly does, but the art style present isn’t something that makes the series feel new like with every console debut. The art style is just too similar to SM3DL, albeit a modernized version of it. The controls appear to be the same as well, one can move in only 8 directions, just like SM3DL. The courses are linear, you will start in one end, and end up reaching the flag goal or defeating a monster, just like SM3DL. The main differences will include the Cat suit and the simultaneous multiplayer for up to 4 human people. But also the ability to play as characters other than Mario and Luigi (Toad!!!, and Peach looks great too). And no, I don’t need anymore of constant excuses from defenders stating “well, we haven’t seen the rest of the game”, because the art-style, the music, and format obviously traces its routes, no way out of that one.
Could this be a missed opportunity for Nintendo? I believe it is, they obviously could have put much more effort in making this game a lot “grander”. But on the flip-side, it could also be something that Nintendo wanted to play it safe with. They admit it, developing for Wii U has been very difficult from the start; hence the major delays from the games we wanted for over half a year. All of those at Nintendo should have understood that developing for an HD console would be much more difficult than how they were working with Wii. And yet, they thought the developers would be fine with what they had. They weren’t, they were arrogant, and payed for it with negative response from fans and response from sales. This game could very well be nothing more than a quick game in order to get something out to increase sales for the console, because it’s obviously not looking too hot. The fact that Miyamoto previously stated that they “still have the Galaxy series” makes me believe that they likely are planning something else. Whether they will continue with the Galaxy series or not remains to be seen.
What should have they done? Return to 3D Mario’s roots, exploration. The Galaxy series was great, but that really shouldn’t be what they need to be looking at. What Nintendo needs, is a game that allows the player to fully explore the Mushroom Kingdom, sort of an open-world type of game where you, Mario, travels around the Mushroom Kingdom for adventure. Of course, there needs to be a reason for this adventure, he won’t go around the entire nation just because he feels like it. It doesn’t need to be an RPG-styled game, but that would have definitely gained interest to those striving for something more to 3D Mario. Aonuma recently stated that he is growing tired of the same Zelda formula, and that his next game will change Zelda for the better. So, why not do the same for 3D Mario? Open world Nintendo, Mario’s done everything else except open-world.
In your opinions, do you believe Super Mario 3D World is truly the next evolution in 3D Mario games? Does it seem like a wasted effort? Or should Nintendo have simply tried harder in innovating 3D Mario? Is this what you expected from Nintendo’s first HD 3D Mario title? Don’t hesitate, get angry if you’d like, and tell everyone what you think!