Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Super Mario 3DS

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to attend a Nintendo showcase primarily designed to show off forthcoming 3DS titles, the sort of high-profile games that will hopefully give the company's beleaguered new handheld the sales boost it so badly needs. I'll be writing about some of these, the likes of Starfox 64 3D and Luigi's Mansion 2, for a forthcoming D+PAD Magazine feature. One of the games that I won't be covering, but the one I probably spent most time with at the show (just edging out Nintendo's aforementioned remake of Lylat Wars) was the new Mario. The title isn't confirmed, but I'd be disappointed to see it change; Super Mario is a simple, bold and altogether appropriate declaration of intent. It seemingly strives to be a definitive Mario experience, and could be close to getting there.

Super Mario, from the thirty minutes I spent with it, appears to strike a wonderfully judged balance between Mario classicism and the more contemporary Wii adventures. Although both Galaxy games retained the spirit of the Mushroom Kingdom, whilst providing a platform upon which Nintendo's game designers could push their imaginations in some dazzling directions, there was something about their restlessness (particularly in Super Mario Galaxy 2) which was arguably at odds with the idea of a cohesive 3D playground most successfully realised back in 1996's Super Mario 64. Here, as in the earlier 2D games, successive Mario levels would be platforming-based variations within a specific world. These worlds may have become progressively richer and more diverse as hardware developed (compare, say, the levels in Super Mario Bros with those of Super Mario World, the numbers of the first game being replaced by named areas such as Chocolate Island), but their ethos remained the same.

So when Shigeru Miyamoto himself describes Super Mario as being a cross between the Marios of 64 and Galaxy, we hope this is what he means: sets of self-enclosed levels based within identifiably Mario terrain, albeit with Galaxy-esque twists. As opposed to manic deconstructions of game space anchored only by the presence of the fat plumber and his friends. But of course, either outcome (or as is more likely, something in the middle of both) will be more than okay. In our brief hands-on we experienced the return of Super Mario Bros 3's iconic raccoon suit, a level solely based on the sort of disappearing folding tiles so familiar from the Wii titles and a fine use of 3D which, in one witty moment, allowed you to go behind the brick staircase that you'd otherwise traditionally clamber up before jumping to the end of level flag's highest point. Yep, the end of level flags are back.

Here's a picture of the bespoke area in which I played Super Mario (even the normally disinterested assistant seems to be absorbed):

Out by the end of the year.

1 comment:

  1. The decision to eliminate a hub, sandbox style environment in Super Mario Galaxy 2 was one that pleased some and disappointed others. I can see the benefits to both - Including a hub allows for a greater sense of adventure and discovery, however can become frustrating over time when you forget where the stages are located and you simply want to jump into a level. I personally preferred SMG 1 and its hub and was disappointed with its exclusion in the part 2. I do think that for a portable device however, it might be best to design the game around a 'Pick up and play' formula and therefore dropping the hub world.