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Super Mario 3D Land review

Mario sets forth on his first 3DS adventure with plenty of surprises in store

New Mario games are almost always new landmarks in gaming. Super Mario Bros. changed platforming forever, Super Mario 64 introduced a completely new gameplay experience and the abstract imagination of the Super Mario Galaxy games have arguably made them the most lovingly-crafted games on any system in the past five years. As the first Mario game on 3DS, there's a lot riding on Super Mario 3D Land to provide yet another landmark moment, and we're happy to say that it does.

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On first appearance Super Mario 3D Land looks like a handheld version of the Super Mario Galaxy games. Mario can wander around wherever he likes. Yet despite the seemingly free-roaming nature of the game, Mario only ever has one set path. The aim in every level is always to reach the flagpole at the end, ideally while collecting the three Star Coins hidden in each stage.

Click to view larger image

Level Headed

Most of the levels in Super Mario 3D Land are packed with imaginative gameplay mechanics. Each stage guarantees at least one new object or enemy you've never dealt with before, keeping things fresh without much repetition.

Having said that, some of the gameplay mechanics introduced have been uncharacteristically copied straight over from previous games (Like the cannons that fire Mario across the stage, and platforms that flip over as you jump from Galaxy's FlipSwitch Galaxy) but for the most part there are plenty of imaginative new ideas in each world you encounter.

Super Mario 3D Land has clearly been put together with the same care and attention given to every other triple-A Nintendo title. The camera is rock solid, the little graphical touches also provide a level of detail that wasn't even really seen in the Wii games while the inter-World cutscenes add some fun variety not seen since Super Mario World.

Controlling Mario is a charm and it only takes a few minutes to get used to holding down the sprint button to make Mario dash. He's also got a new standing dash move, where holding down the sprint button before moving starts him running on the spot, allowing you to reach top speed instantly.

Click to view larger image
There are a couple of moves which don't quite work so well, however - doing a long jump can be awkward since you have to hold the dash and duck buttons before quickly pressing the jump button, and his charging crouch jump (returning from Super Mario Bros. 2) is rarely worth doing in anything other than rare circumstances because the difference in height gained is negligible.

Vision Impress

Super Mario 3D Land is the first game truly makes use of the handheld's 3D effect. While 3D in most of the other 3DS games released to date looks great but is ultimately purely aesthetic, this is the first game we've played in which you really do feel at a disadvantage if you don't have the 3D slider turned up. This is instantly obvious in the smaller optical illusion-style bonus rooms which deliberately position blocks in a way that makes it impossible to tell where they're positioned unless you switch from 2D to 3D, but it's also the case for the game as a whole.

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Comments

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  1. Ai64 Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 13:18

    He's back and better than ever. So looking forward to this must have game. :D

  2. gmundy Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 14:30

    I'm going to be so bankrupt by the end of this year.

  3. Shmilly Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 16:04

    Went into an independent games retailer this afternoon after lectures, and they already had their shipment. Day early with no pre-order? Yes please. And I can confirm that you, whoever you are that might be reading this, need to buy this game.

  4. Dalekbuster523 Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 16:07

    This sounds like a great game.I so have to have this for my 3DS.

  5. Pokemon Luke Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 16:09

    Only as Good as star fox eh :? well it still should be good tommorow... 18th Nov... :|

  6. CaptainSnivy Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 16:13

    What? Only 94%? It should be 101%.

  7. mattym727 Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 16:24

    I'm going to have to wait till Christmas day to play this and mario kart 7 :(

  8. light_goose Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 16:48

    I'm so excited about this game but I have to wait until Christmas to play it. That's over a month after everyone else!!!! It's sooo annoying =[

  9. omza Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 17:06

    I'm really enjoying this game so far! It seems a bit short though... :/ Hoping the later worlds will have more to offer.

  10. Jackson83 Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 17:10

    I have been looking forward to this game since I got my 3DS knowing that a mario game had to be made... can't wait to pick this game up tomorrow from my local city games shop...

  11. Pokemon Luke Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 17:56

    Hurry up tommorow... HURRY UP TOMMOROW!!! :)

  12. AR master Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 18:00

    reviews are live on eshop :D

  13. Steno1 Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 18:05

    Hurry up tommorow... HURRY UP TOMMOROW!!! :)


    HURRY UP TOMORROW! For gods sake, Friday's, why don't you come quicker as Rebecca Black's dislikes on her Friday song.

  14. sciqueen Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 19:12

    So can't you temporarily fly or turn into a statue like SMB 3 when Mario wears the Tanooki suit? What's the point? :(

  15. 123akis Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 19:14

    I pre ordered from GAME.CO.UK and recieved super mario 3d land today (Thursday 17th November 2011) a day before the release. With that order i pre ordered Zelda skyward sword which has not come yet... hoping it will come tommorow

  16. TenTen Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 19:35

    So can't you temporarily fly or turn into a statue like SMB 3 when Mario wears the Tanooki suit? What's the point? :(


    You can turn into a statue with the statue leaf and you can flutter jump

  17. zelda97 Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 19:42

    this looks alright...

  18. Xenoblade Hero Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 20:17

    Not convinced at all. I think Nintendo are starting to become lazy on the ideas department, and are just "recycling" aspects of the other Mario games, and shoving them into another new Mario game. A little originality and daring wouldnt go amiss- Mario has gone down this route a few too many times :x

  19. wambamjewel Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 20:24

    Not convinced at all. I think Nintendo are starting to become lazy on the ideas department, and are just "recycling" aspects of the other Mario games, and shoving them into another new Mario game. A little originality and daring wouldnt go amiss- Mario has gone down this route a few too many times :x


    Yeah, thats what you think? Im betting you havent seen the game, it has aspects from previous mario games yet its a whole new game and concept. I think its a great game and doesn't really deserve any badmouthing.

  20. PokemonRed Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 20:31

    Going to buy Skyward Sword tomorrow so I will probably buy this when I'm in Gamestation as well... The temptation will be too hard to resist! :lol:

  21. Xenoblade Hero Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 20:38

    Not convinced at all. I think Nintendo are starting to become lazy on the ideas department, and are just "recycling" aspects of the other Mario games, and shoving them into another new Mario game. A little originality and daring wouldnt go amiss- Mario has gone down this route a few too many times :x


    Yeah, thats what you think? Im betting you havent seen the game, it has aspects from previous mario games yet its a whole new game and concept. I think its a great game and doesn't really deserve any badmouthing.

    I have actually, and indeed, it is my opinion- however, I am entitled to one, alike to how everyone else is :)

  22. Missile T Dog Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 21:28

    Not convinced at all. I think Nintendo are starting to become lazy on the ideas department, and are just "recycling" aspects of the other Mario games, and shoving them into another new Mario game. A little originality and daring wouldnt go amiss- Mario has gone down this route a few too many times :x

    Actually in many ways this is the most unique of the 3d mario games as it combines both styles of mario games (2d and 3d) with the linear stye and 2d game style controls all featuring in a 3d plain, kind of like the metroid other m of the series. As well as this it incorparates new ideas such as top down perspective. Also I'm curiouse what route would you have the mario series go down?

    Anyway I think this looks superb, and I'm really looking forward to indulging into a burst of mario awesomeness

  23. Icytroid1993 Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 21:50

    Not convinced at all. I think Nintendo are starting to become lazy on the ideas department, and are just "recycling" aspects of the other Mario games, and shoving them into another new Mario game. A little originality and daring wouldnt go amiss- Mario has gone down this route a few too many times :x


    Play the game first :roll: You can't say it's not original, this game has got plenty of new ideas :) In a Skyward Sword article you said that you intensely dislike people who judge games without giving them a chance, isn't that what you're doing with 3D Land?

  24. imbusydoctorwho Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 22:15

    I want it,I want it a lot.

  25. Poke-J Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 22:17


    Play the game first :roll: You can't say it's not original, this game has got plenty of new ideas :) In a Skyward Sword article you said that you intensely dislike people who judge games without giving them a chance, isn't that what you're doing with 3D Land?

    Yeah, he should definitely go ahead an throw away Ł30-Ł40 on a game he feels sceptical about. Because that's a great idea!

    But personally I'm looking forward to this game. Not looking forward to a run button, but everything else looks groovy.

  26. superdudemiles Thursday 17th Nov 2011 at 23:07

    I'm going to be so bankrupt by the end of this year.

    Ditto.

  27. AaronMclaren Friday 18th Nov 2011 at 02:34

    I've just started World 3 and have been playing for about 2 hours now. I can see how ONM feel the 'main' game is too easy; I could've quite happily stormed through the levels as they are incredibly straightforward and offer no immediate challenge. However, I found within certain levels (not all, some really are run to the flagpole) there are plenty of oppurtunities to explore and interact with the environment - usually this tends to be for a star medal, but there are cases where it's an extra route or for a hidden 1Up :)
    Honestly, my first impressions were that it felt like the weakest Mario game so far and I was a little disappointed, but with the promise of the difficulty ramping up (perhaps a little too late) and all the little secrets sprinkled in the levels (not to mention the superb visuals and good use of 3D) I think it's gonna be a must own title!!

  28. Icytroid1993 Friday 18th Nov 2011 at 11:17


    Play the game first :roll: You can't say it's not original, this game has got plenty of new ideas :) In a Skyward Sword article you said that you intensely dislike people who judge games without giving them a chance, isn't that what you're doing with 3D Land?

    Yeah, he should definitely go ahead an throw away Ł30-Ł40 on a game he feels sceptical about. Because that's a great idea!

    But personally I'm looking forward to this game. Not looking forward to a run button, but everything else looks groovy.


    You can rent games y'know.

  29. imbusydoctorwho Friday 18th Nov 2011 at 14:06

    I just hope it isn't really easy,and offer some difficult levels.

  30. Xenoblade Hero Friday 18th Nov 2011 at 19:26

    Not convinced at all. I think Nintendo are starting to become lazy on the ideas department, and are just "recycling" aspects of the other Mario games, and shoving them into another new Mario game. A little originality and daring wouldnt go amiss- Mario has gone down this route a few too many times :x


    Play the game first :roll: You can't say it's not original, this game has got plenty of new ideas :) In a Skyward Sword article you said that you intensely dislike people who judge games without giving them a chance, isn't that what you're doing with 3D Land?

    "Play the game first"- Exactly- that what all the Mario fans should do before they say my words are rubbish. I can't judge, because I haven't played it, but neither can you dude, because you haven't played it (or by the time I posted my first comment, no-one had played it) No-one can force me to like Mario games XD

  31. Icytroid1993 Saturday 19th Nov 2011 at 13:50

    "Play the game first"- Exactly- that what all the Mario fans should do before they say my words are rubbish. I can't judge, because I haven't played it, but neither can you dude, because you haven't played it (or by the time I posted my first comment, no-one had played it) No-one can force me to like Mario games XD


    Thats exactly the point i was trying to make :) I was just saying you can't automatically assume that the game isn't original without giving it a chance, but if you don't like Mario games then that's fair enough :) We all like different games 8) If you want a recommendation though, then i'll let you know i'm thoroughly enjoying it at the moment :)

  32. shuggybarr Saturday 19th Nov 2011 at 15:45

    If you haven't bought it yet try Morrison's. I got it this morning for Ł24.99

  33. shuggybarr Saturday 19th Nov 2011 at 15:48

    If you haven't bought it already, try Morrison's. I got it this morning for Ł24.99

  34. shuggybarr Saturday 19th Nov 2011 at 16:02

    If you haven't bought this yet, try Morrison's. I got it this morning for Ł24.99. A tenner cheaper than HMV etc

  35. shuggybarr Saturday 19th Nov 2011 at 16:03

    If you haven't bought this yet, try Morrison's. I got it this morning for Ł24.99. A tenner cheaper than HMV etc


    Sorry for repeat posting - the first post wasn't showing up. I don't work for Morrison's, honest :)

  36. yoshiller64 Monday 21st Nov 2011 at 17:12

    if you dont work for morrisons then why have you posted like 5 of the exact same message :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

  37. zamio Saturday 26th Nov 2011 at 10:40

    For some reason, After playing the first few stages, I cant bring myself to play it again. It just bores me out of my mind once the novelty wears off.

  38. Xenoblade Hero Saturday 26th Nov 2011 at 16:44

    "Play the game first"- Exactly- that what all the Mario fans should do before they say my words are rubbish. I can't judge, because I haven't played it, but neither can you dude, because you haven't played it (or by the time I posted my first comment, no-one had played it) No-one can force me to like Mario games XD


    Thats exactly the point i was trying to make :) I was just saying you can't automatically assume that the game isn't original without giving it a chance, but if you don't like Mario games then that's fair enough :) We all like different games 8) If you want a recommendation though, then i'll let you know i'm thoroughly enjoying it at the moment :)

    Ah, that's awesome :D I didn't want to make out that no-one else was entitled to an opinion x} Just wanted to say that I wasn't convinced into buying the game. To add to your point, I know people who have played the game and enjoyed it- but they also talked about it being quite easy- :) It sounds intriguing, but not exceptional. I apologise as well for getting slightly peeved at the mindless fanboyism on here too! X)

  39. Icytroid1993 Saturday 26th Nov 2011 at 17:08

    No worries 8) We're all allowed to give a point of view :) I apologize for my first comment in response to your's :( It didn't sound very nice, i didn't mean for it to come across that way :( Don't worry about how you feel about fanboyism, i know what you mean :lol:

  40. Mario-fun Wednesday 30th Nov 2011 at 11:28

    I have Super Mario 3D Land and I can rate it as 10/10. The games retro nods, return of Tanooki, amazing new power-ups and fresh new levels :D . This game is a must be!!

  41. mrmariomaster Tuesday 20th Dec 2011 at 10:42

    SO EXCITED!!! IT IS AT THE TOP OF MY CHRISTMAS LIST!

  42. greenpo08 Sunday 22nd Jan 2012 at 14:18

    that is cool 8)

  43. Xenoblade Hero Monday 23rd Jan 2012 at 09:59

    Actually played through this now, and I remain to what I said earlier. It's fun, but way too easy (even the special level) and a little overhyped, but still a solid platformer. I'm giving it 84% myself.

  44. ShadowofPain Sunday 29th Jan 2012 at 21:52

    Super overrated. It's a well constructed game that doesn't really do anything particularly wrong, but doesn't do anything really. Visually it's stunning, soundtrack is pretty nice, 3D is the best out of any 3DS game and fundamental gameplay is still as solid and precise as it was (though not quite as satisfying as the Galaxy games) but it does almost nothing new or interesting. It presents no innovative ideas, no interesting level designs, only one new power-up that in itself is fun to use but not all that interesting, recycled levels and gimmicks used from past games. It tries to be like classic Mario and Galaxy at the same time, but ultimately doesn't quite match up to either. Level designs are dull and totally unmemorable too. They largely consist of floating blocks in the sky or (as aforementioned) a gimmick from a previous Mario game (like the flip panels from SMG2).

    Now don't get me wrong, I love Mario games. I've played and thoroughly enjoyed most of them and the two Galaxy titles remain to be two of my favourite games of all time. It's just that for a series known for innovating, for bringing fresh, new and exciting ideas; Super Mario 3D Land just falls flat. It's just there. It's still fun mind, an 80% game mainly due to how polished it is. Just a totally uninspired and pathetically easy one.

  45. mattyjenks Saturday 28th Jul 2012 at 09:22

    This game is so great, it has loads of secret content which will keep you playing for ages.

  46. Hams96 Tuesday 31st Jul 2012 at 01:24

    I kind of hate this game. I breezed through the entire thing, including the special worlds in a week. Whats more, the Tanooki Suit is heavily overpowered, especially when you consider how easy it is to get. The music is dull, no level specific music, and half of the special levels are just speed runs of earlier levels. Finally, the fact that there are only 3 bosses in the entire game (they reappear) makes it my least favourite Mario game so far.

  47. Hams96 Tuesday 31st Jul 2012 at 01:26

    I just hope it isn't really easy,and offer some difficult levels.


    It has one level that is guaranteed to annoy, an that is the final one. With the rest you simply grab a Tanooki Leaf and it becomes a cakewalk.

  48. Hams96 Tuesday 31st Jul 2012 at 01:28

    This game is so great, it has loads of secret content which will keep you playing for ages.


    WHAT??! Are we talking about the same game here?!?

  49. SM3DL2 Thursday 8th Nov 2012 at 21:43

    Still SM3DL here. Just had to make another account because it wouldn't accept my password, and I couldn't use the same password. lol :lol:

    It says at the back of the ONM's that New Super Mario Bros. DS is 'the perfect introduction to Mario gaming'. Personally, I found Super Mario 3D Land made me like Mario more.

    I would highly recommend this to anyone. If you would to ask me a question, you can email me (10yatesj@newrickstonesacademy.org) or post a comment here. I frequently check past pages.

  50. SM3DL2 Thursday 8th Nov 2012 at 21:44

    I'm already bankrupt lol :lol:

  51. SM3DL2 Friday 9th Nov 2012 at 00:05

    Did you know that Super Mario 3D Land is the fastest selling Mario game ever on a handheld, selling something like 500,000 in its first week? I found out on the ONM website, just search Super Mario 3D Land and it should be there.

  52. greenpo08 Saturday 22nd Dec 2012 at 13:15

    Finally i have got all the star coins and unlocked that special level

    So cool. :D

  53. Luigino.1 Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 20:08

    I got the game with my 3DS and as it was my first 3DS game I was impressed :mrgreen:

  54. Bigtime Tuesday 30th Apr 2013 at 10:37

    I went back to ply it earlier, then found I have all star coins and have the golden flag pole on all levels and completed with with both Mario and Luigi.

    Back in the box you go...

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