These cats aren't Grumpy.
The Wii U may have launched with New Super Mario Bros. U—a fantastic game we scored highly—but it wasn’t the console-defining 3D Mario that we’ve come to expect to release alongside new Nintendo hardware. Like the Wii had with Super Mario Galaxy, and the N64 had with Super Mario 64. But Super Mario 3D World doesn’t have that special new gameplay twist, and isn’t the first of anything paving the way for new experiences—it’s just more Mario, and that’s never a bad thing.
It resembles Super Mario 3D Land a lot more than other Mario games, but the camera is very different. It’s more focused since the Wii U is lacking that 3D screen and doesn’t need the gameplay to match the effect. And without that 3D gameplay, it doesn’t exactly play all that similar to 3D Land, either. Instead, it’s the layout of stages, the enemies, and characters that bear the semblance.
It’s Mario, so it’s still about collecting coins—yellow ones, red ones—and stars—green ones; three per stage. And there’s still a flag pole at the end of a stage for you to try and reach the top for the 1up. So it’s all very familiar. But truthfully, none of it is pushing any sort of boundary. At least not what I’ve had the chance to see during my few-stage demo during E3.
What you will get, though, is tons of fun, simple, and incredibly satisfying platforming with up to four players at time. You can even play as Princess Peach, which was nice for a change, and she looked purr-fectly adorable in a cat suit taking down a massive multi-tier snake boss with some paw swipes and a new dive attack. Cat suit also allows you to climb straight up walls to access otherwise unreachable areas.
That’s the one new thing they’ve shown so far, although from the Nintendo rep’s stuttered response when I pressed them on more new power-ups, it’s not the last surprise. Still, I don’t feel it’s enough for the first 3D Mario game on the Wii U, and it does nothing at all to justify the Wii U GamePad–it only uses the face buttons and D-pad. Despite my slight disappointment in the lack of defining gameplay and exemplary use of the GamePad, it's still that polished, addictively fun, and expertly-designed Mario quality we've come to expect from Nintendo—which is why Super Mario 3D World still managed to earn itself a Best of E3 award.