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Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury Review – Wii U Redemption

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury isn’t just a sharper, faster version of Super Mario 3D World. It is that, of course, but the small changes Nintendo has made to the original make this remaster feel transformative. Oh, and Bowser’s Fury might just be better than most of the content in the main game, so that’s also nice.

Super Mario 3D World is a Wii U port that got a bad rep thanks to launching on a doomed console. The public consensus seemed to be that if the game couldn’t make people buy a Wii U, it probably wasn’t worthwhile in the first place. There were a few small issues in its original iteration, but these were truly minor. It was built around multiplayer, and while a four-player frenzy sounds like a great way to play a game like this, that came with caveats: levels had to be wide enough to support four players, and Mario had to move relatively slowly so everyone on screen can keep track of where they are. Mario games are about exploration and precision platforming – something 3D World had – but it never capitalised on those strengths, instead opting for a more casual, beginner-friendly experience. Fun, but not for me, thanks.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury has kept everything that made the game great: the levels are all the same – which is wonderful since they ooze Nintendo’s signature design – but Mario has been sped up significantly, and feels as if he’s wearing Sonic’s sneakers.

If you’ve never played Super Mario 3D World, this is the best way to do so. If you’re a returning player, the online multiplayer will be what makes you stick around. Previously, you could only play multiplayer with people in the same room, and now you get to extend that to anyone that has a Nintendo Switch (and a copy of the game, and a Nintendo Switch Online subscription…), which is perfect for pandemic play. Nintendo has managed to take one of its more maligned Mario titles and turn it into an excellent game to play on Nintendo Switch. But that alone probably won’t convince Wii U owners to take the plunge and pay for this game again – that’s what Bowser’s Fury is for.

Bowser’s Fury feels like Nintendo going back to the drawing board. The developer took everything that Super Mario 3D World set up and made something entirely new, with the lessons learned from Super Mario Odyssey in mind. Instead of linear levels and bursts of distinctly video game-y platforming with impossible architecture, Bowser’s Fury takes place on Lake Lapcat where islands rise out of the water. Bowser himself has been overcome with a dripping evil goo, and it’s up to Mario to save the day.

Possibly my favourite aspect of Bowser’s Fury is that it finally goes all the way with the felines Super Mario 3D World introduced. The Bell power-up turned Mario into a cat, but other than the fact the power-up was there, that concept was never really expanded upon. Here, in Lake Lapcat, absolutely everything is cat-inspired. Puffy flowers are actually in the shape of cat paws, leaves on plants are cat-shaped, there are adorable kitties in every area, and even the birds have cat ears on their heads. This is the cute and creative cat climate that 3D World was lacking.

On each island you’ll find traditional platforming challenges that reward you with Cat Shines – yes, they’re like Shines from Super Mario Sunshine, but they have a cat face on them. You collect cat coins while hopping around the islands to climb mountains, thwart goombas, and uncover secrets. Bowser Jr. is also there to float nearby and assist with occasionally slapping an enemy and collecting a few coins, but unless you get a second player to control him directly, he’s not worth mentioning – and even then, it’s one of Nintendo’s infamous concessions to get a less experienced player involved, even when it’s probably not necessary.

There are multiple challenges on each island, and then those challenges get remixed several times so you can replay the same environment with new objectives, such as collecting blue coins, wiping out enemies, or giving chase to a shadowy Luigi. Once you hit a certain threshold, you’ll unlock the Giga Bell power-up, which becomes available once Fury Bowser emerges from the mire to do battle. Once Mario collects the Giga Bell, he becomes a giant cat (Super Saiyan Cat Oozaru, a bit like in Dragon Ball GT), and does battle with Bowser in the closest any Mario game has ever gotten to emulating Godzilla. The giant combat itself isn’t much to write home about, but the operatic music that could’ve been taken straight from either Dark Souls or a fight with Sephiroth? *chef’s kiss*

Once the fight is over, even more of Lake Lapcat becomes available to explore, with more islands rising from the muck, and the helpful Plessie – a dinosaur that Mario rides across the water in Super Mario 3D World – returning to make navigating the region’s wide open spaces much easier. The way you can free-roam around the environment and uncover dozens of hidden secrets feels just like Super Mario Odyssey, but the way the islands contain their own unique Mario platforming sections and combat challenges feel closer to Super Mario 3D World. Truly, it’s the best of both worlds.

If there’s anything to complain about it’s that Nintendo possibly reached for the stars a bit too much. Fitting these huge environments into a game engine that was designed for a more linear approach to level design works, but only barely. Mario’s moveset isn’t expansive and exciting the same way it is in Odyssey thanks to Cappy, though the range of power-ups – including the Super Leaf, Boomerang Flower, and Propeller Box – helps it to feel fresh while you explore each island the lake has to offer. The only real problem is when Bowser emerges from the lake. If you can’t make it to a Giga Bell to do combat with him, you’ll have to deal with Bowser blasting you with fire breath and throwing obstacles at you. Good, as it breaks otherwise invincible bricks with Bowser’s face plastered all over them, but also bad, as it becomes a distraction as you attempt to complete the challenge you’ve set out on – plus it can seriously tank the frame rate, and therefore game speed.

Ultimately, Super Mario 3D World, in this package, is the best that game has ever been, with the increased speed and ease of multiplayer access making it far more enticing than ever before. Bowser’s Fury, meanwhile, is essentially the Super Mario Odyssey DLC that never was. It feels like Odyssey’s level and game design sensibilities, but placed in the Super Mario 3D World game engine, with all of the power-ups and quirks that game has to make something truly unique. Putting both of these games in one package is the best decision that Nintendo has made in a long while, as Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is one of the best Mario offerings available on Nintendo Switch, which is lofty praise given the existence of Super Mario Maker 2. Now it just needs the option to play again, but as Luigi.

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  • Game Reviews
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • Bowser's Fury

TheGamer Guides Editor.
Am I supposed to write this in the third-person? Do you know how awkward it is talking about yourself like you’re someone else? No one would ever believe someone else has this many nice things to say about me.

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