I had the pleasure of trying out Dragon Age II over the summer at San Diego Comic Con 2010. Was I a lucky member of the press whisked away to some dark room to spend hours with the game? No, absolutely not. I waited in a long line with other passionate fans for about an hour to get my hands on an early build of the game. As I told a number of my friends, the game looked and felt amazing. Combat had been sped up, and everything felt more fluid and tactile.
No, you didn’t read the by line wrong, this is Matt here reporting on a 3DS game. You may say to yourself, but Matt, on many, many podcasts you have said you would probably never own a portable system again. Especially a 3DS. Well kids, the times they are a changin’ and for me they appear to be headed backwards. The truth of the matter is that I have about a 40 minute commute each way on the train now and that’s a lot of time to kill. I have been reading, but larger books are unwieldy on the crowded train. I listen to podcasts and could game on my phone, but until they make a phone who’s battery can last all day with a couple of hours of gaming on it (I know the iPhone has better battery life, it isn’t going to happen at this point so deal with it.) I can’t kill my phone before I even make it home in the evening. Sometimes you end up out after work and having a phone to navigate New York is invaluable.
So Target ran a special where you could pick up a 3DS and get a $50 gift card back. I knew I needed a router too and somehow that math made sense in my head so I picked it up. Plus Nintendo had released a new Mario game and since I’m not a huge Zelda guy but I do love me some Mario it seemed like a win.
But this is not a 3DS review, we have done that, this is a Super Mario 3D Land review. If you want the short of it, it’s fantastic. The long? Continue on.
The game looks phenomenal. The graphics look smooth and the colors vibrant. For such a tiny screen, I never find myself trying to focus or read something that I otherwise couldn’t, although I think the 3D actually aids in this as well, and the characters are done in such great detail it’s awesome to see them popping off the small screen. The stage design is fluid and the 3D which we will get to later in the review does nothing but enhance EVERY aspect of the game.
If you’re going to go see a 3D movie, you see one shot by James Cameron or apparently Martin Scorsese. You go because these guys are masters of direction and they use 3D as a tool of immersion and creative output. So if you want a 3D game, right now, you get one made by Nintendo. The 3D is jaw droppingly awesome in this game. The depth it gives regular levels is fantastic and the creative ways they use it on other levels to disorient you and hide things often causes me to make squeekish noises that should come out of someone much younger then myself. A note on the 3DS. When I first played it waaaay back when Scott brought one to the podcast, I mentioned it was kind of giving me the Magic Eye affect, where I found myself letting my eyes cross a little to see the 3D. I turned on the machine this time and the same thing happened. I kind of sighed to myself and thought, “here we go”. Fortunately though, just shortly after I found if I adjusted where I held it and the direction it slowly slid into focus, no eye strain, no crossing. It felt great and worked wonderfully. It took maybe one level to get used to the z-axis of movement. It is a little unsettling at first, but eventually you melt right into it, and the map orientation and viewpoint constantly swoops in and out adjusting to give you an amazing view and perspective on the absolute depth of the game. If you own a 3DS and have been underwhelmed by the use of the 3D, I highly recommend this one, it may scratch that itch.
It’s Mario. It plays amazingly well. The two most standout gameplay pieces involve two things that the 3D absolutely enhances. The first is swimming, the second is the propeller hat. For the unfamiliar, there is an item in the game where you put a box on your head with the propeller and hold down the jump button and you get immediate helicopter like lift. It is used to enjoyable affect while trying to collect coins and make it through a level. Honestly, if you are a Mario fan, this game does nothing but take a familiar style and enhance it with levels of depth and moveability that were previously unavailable.
This game is a stellar standout from an otherwise lackluster list of available games for the 3DS. I am heavily anticipating a game set for 2012 from friend of the sites studio n-Space called Heroes of Ruin. Beyond that the list includes the familiar Zelda, MarioKart, Pilotwings, and Star Fox. While you could easily lump this in with those “seen it” titles, I can only recommend giving it a shot and seeing how fast you start tearing through it. This by no means an epic Mario tale, but it is definitely long enough to earn your $40.
- The 3D – it is awesome
- The propeller hat, mainly movement along unexpected planes
- The boss levels
- Unexpected uses of 3D to disorient you (ie: Top Down, straight back, hidden coins)
- Top notch game play
- The 3DS can feel just barely small in your hands, which on rare occasion causes unintentional bumper pushes.
- The boss levels great, the boss fights…eh, to be expected I guess, but it could have been more interesting.