‘Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury’ Does Not Disappoint



You can transform into Giga Cat Mario in the recently released ‘Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury’. Photo courtesy of mynintendonews.com

Super Mario 3D World was one of the best games released for Nintendo’s failed Wii U console back in 2013, and after the massive critical and commercial success achieved by the previous two games in the 3D Mario series, Super Mario Galaxy 1&2, fans weren’t as impressed with this one. The game’s levels in particular were a whole lot more streamlined, and ended up reusing many ideas that had previously been introduced in prior games, making it a bit underwhelming to players. However, this was all for the better, as it all worked towards this game’s main goal: making a fun multiplayer Mario experience. Not only did Nintendo achieve their goal, but they ended up making, in my opinion, one of the best, if not the greatest co-op game ever made. Due to the extremely low sales of the Wii U, many of its gems have been re-released on the Nintendo Switch, so when I heard that Super Mario 3D World was getting ported over, I was happy to say the least, but my mind was absolutely blown when I heard about a new game mode they were adding, which looked to be an open-world game at first glance. I had to get it.

Fast forward a couple months later, and it finally came out on Feb. 12. I quickly ripped open the Amazon package, popped the game into my Switch, and grabbed my family: this was going to be truly amazing. While the Wii U original was perfectly good as-is, the Switch port got some added content to sweeten the deal; not only was the new game mode added, but also minor tweaks got added to further polish the game, like increased movement speed of characters, some user interface tweaks, and an overall more stable performance on the more powerful Switch hardware. All these changes alone combine to make the port the definitive version of the game, meaning a new generation of people can experience this masterpiece for the first time and truly appreciate its genius.

Most recent Mario games have followed one of two formats: simpler 2D side-scrolling games, with linear, level-based gameplay, or more advanced 3D open-world, less linear games, with large stages being the main focus, and the main gameplay revolving around collecting objects. Super Mario 3D World is one of the few Mario games that decided to go a completely different direction, and instead implement a compromise: a mix between both of the styles, with linear levels and a 3D environment. Its tight controls and collectibles hidden in every level make it the perfect game to play co-op; you can play it on your own and still get everything out of the game, but it’s just a lot more fun with others. I’ve spent countless hours on both versions of the game with my family, screaming in pure rage when other people messed me up, laughing maniacally as I threw other people to their death, and anticipating that incredible build-up while waiting to see who got the highest score. The icing on top of 3D World is the scoring system; the more collectibles you get, enemies you kill, and distance you make it up the flagpole, the greater your point total. The person with the most points at the end of each level gets a crown, and it’s hectic and crazy fighting for that crown, especially since the person who keeps it on their head earns even more points. Every element of 3D World is fine-tuned to make it by far the best multiplayer Mario game, and my favorite Mario game of all time. Needless to say, the Switch port was one of my most anticipated games in 2021, but not just because of Super Mario 3D World. There was still one huge bonus to this collection on Switch.

Super Mario 3D World wasn’t the only game included in this package, as we also got an entirely new game. Since 3D World is the headliner, I wasn’t expecting to get my hopes up too much, but after playing Bowser’s Fury, I was even more blown away. In a similar vein to 3D World, Bowser’s Fury is akin to a mixture between the linear 2D games and open-world 3D games, but taking a greater amount of inspiration from the 3D side of the mixture. It’s essentially one gigantic stage, with individual sections that feel like smaller levels from 3D World; however, you can go between any of them at any time to collect this game’s collectible, called Cat Shines. Every time you collect one, it weakens the power of this game’s big baddie, Fury Bowser. Once you collect enough Cat Shines, you can take him on in a giant fight, kaiju style, giant Mario versus Bowser. These fights unfortunately aren’t anything special, but it’s still a spectacle just to see two giant characters fighting each other while the world you just played through is tiny below you. Plus, near the end of the game, the fights become decently challenging, which is a rarity in the Mario games of today. What is challenging are the platforming-focused islands, which start out moderately tough, and near the end become downright brutal. I love it and since we haven’t seen remotely challenging things from this franchise in a long, long time, it’s a welcome change to the series. The Mario games have been heading towards something new, and I think it was just about time. 

Not only is Bowser’s Fury a completely new take on things, it’s also a touching love letter to many 3D Mario games of the past. Cat Shines are a reference to Super Mario Sunshine’s Shine Sprite collectibles, where most levels use objects and enemies from Super Mario Galaxy. There is even a mission that returns from Mario 64. This game truly feels like the developers decided to bring the 3D Mario series into a completely new era, akin to what the Zelda developers did with Breath of the Wild, and I, for one, am extremely excited to see what they bring next.