Last week in Los Angeles I got the chance to try out Super Mario 3D World, the latest game in a franchise I’m sure you’ve heard of by now.  For the most part, it doesn’t play drastically differently from it’s 3DS predecessor, but it does throw in a few cool tricks and features that make 3D World it’s own game.  I’m here to detail them for you.

To start with, 3D World is like a multiplayer focused 3D Land.  The game supports up to 4 players – Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad – that control like their Super Mario Bros. 2 counterparts.  In fact, the Nintendo rep manning the demo explained that Mario 2 was the feeling they were going for, with each character having their own unique style of movement and jumping.  All players work together to get through the level, but at the same time compete to see who can get the highest score.  As you’d expect, collecting coins, stomping enemies, and breaking bricks give you points, and the score is tallied at the end of every level so you can wave your victory in friends’ faces.  Four players allow you to get up to mischief, as well, because you can pick up any player and throw them around the level.  You can throw them at enemies, or onto blocks or, if you’re anything like me, repeatedly into bottomless pits.  Gameplay can get really chaotic in small spaces with everyone throwing eachother around fighting for the best powerups.  Blocks will always give enough powerups for all 4 players, but not always the exact same powerups , and if anyone falls behind they will eventually be teleported to the rest of the group.

Super Mario 3D World   Hands On At E3 photo

Super Mario 3D World also introduces a few new concepts that weren’t present in 3D Land.  The most prominent of these are the new clear tubes that were present in many of the demo levels.  These work by sucking up characters and sending them zipping along the path, which branches multiple ways and allows everyone to take a different direction.  Sometimes these tubes contained coins, and other times they contained Fuzzies that had to be avoided with careful timing.  In at least one level the tubes were integral to solving a small puzzle involving shooting your character into a POW block to break bricks and allow everyone else to slide through the now cleared tube.  It’s also possible to shoot fireballs into the tubes, which was required on more than one occasion to clear it of enemies.

Another new addition are speed pads, which appeared in one section level involving speeding through a cloud environment and collecting coins.  Stepping on the pad does exactly what you think it does; it sends your character running at a super fast speed.  In the demo, this was also combined with a new type of powerup, a potted piranha plant that can be carried to eat stationary piranha plants and (presumably) other enemies.

Super Mario 3D World   Hands On At E3 photo

Finally, I got to try out a water based co-op stage.  In this stage, all 4 players rode on the back of a giant sea creature and raced through the water.  All 4 players could control the creature at once, meaning everyone had to speak to eachother to coordinate which direction to move in and when to jump.  If all 4 players hit jump at the same time the creature would sparkle to signify that everyone is in sync.   The creature itself seemed to slide around somewhat, which actually gave a bit of leeway so that players trying to move in the wrong direction could change and help out the team.

Overall, Super Mario 3D World is what we’ve come to expect from a Mario game.  It’s a colorful adventure through wildly creative worlds with some neat concepts and powerups thrown on top.  It’s certainly not the most original game Nintendo could have unveiled, but it’s also an incredibly fun game that leaves me feeling positive about the future of the Wii U.

For more information on Super Mario 3D World we’ve included screenshots and the official trailer.