Game Review: Super Mario 3D World and Bowser’s Fury

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MISHAWAKA – The Nintendo Switch port of 2013’s Super Mario 3D World has finally released, along with a story pack titled Bowser’s Fury. 

I will confess, I did not pay attention to the game the first time it came out. In my defense, I would not have the console to play it on for the next two years or so. Luckily for me, I managed to wrench my eyes away from the sadness – I mean schoolwork—that surrounds me constantly long enough to pay attention to this version’s release. 

Not much from the Wii U version has changed in the intervening eight years: Mario is still trying to save captured princesses, Bowser is still a bad dude and cats are still a core element of the gameplay for some reason. 

The game starts with Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and a Toad – a side character which Nintendo has consistently tried its hardest to convince you matters, neglecting to acknowledge that they only give them names based on what color they are – relaxing and minding their own business in a kingdom of pixies called Sprixie Kingdom, titled thusly because, I assume, some enterprising children’s book author trademarked the word “pixie,” and Nintendo’s famously cutthroat lawyers just weren’t feeling it that day. 

Suddenly, Bowser pops up out of nowhere and catches one of the totally-not-a-pixie Sprixies in a jar – it’s the Sprixie Princess, no less! The game begs the question, “Who could have foreseen such an awful turn of events?”  But then, you realize that this has been happening fairly regularly for over 35 years now, and that you could probably recite the plot of a Mario game even if you did not know what electricity is and you were dead. I realize I sound jaded and not at all excited for this game, but that is because I am at least the former.  

Getting back to the story though, this kidnapping kicks off a 3D platformer full of charm, fun power ups both new and old, innovative level design, surprisingly tricky puzzles and some of the best music I have ever heard in my life. 

I’m going to do one more digression here – last one, I promise. I am buying this game not just because I like Mario games, not just because of the new content and not just because it is a fun game on my favorite console. I am buying this game due, in an overwhelmingly large part, to the music. This, for those who aren’t in the know, is about when Nintendo decided that they would just make big jazzy band scores for a majority of their games, and I am here for it. I am listening to the soundtrack as I write this piece, because Nintendo music post-2013 lives in my head rent-free. Now, back to the game. 

One of the core mechanics in this game is the Cat Bell power-up, which imbues the holder with cat-like abilities, allowing them to sprint almost twice as quickly, dive in midair, climb walls, scratch enemies and give the player severe cognitive dissonance while watching a group of adults prance around on all fours in custom cat costumes and calling it cute. With these feline features, the group set out to free the Sprixie Princess from Bowser’s clutches, along with the six other Sprixie Princesses that apparently exist and were also captured. 

What makes this port so special, aside from the fact that it is now on Nintendo’s most versatile console, is that it comes with the all-new Bowser’s Fury story mode. This chunk of game is entirely original in its story, the premise of which is Bowser absolutely losing it and deciding to lay waste to a place called Cat Lap Lake.  

Bowser's anger evidently makes him taller than most buildings, covers him in a tar-like substance and strengthens all his attacks. This leaves me to assume that Bowser has really only been mildly annoyed at Mario these past three decades. Regardless, he is certainly angry now, and that is your problem as you traverse the lake with Bowser Jr. in tow, trying to find a way to get his dad to eat a Snickers or something. 

The point is, this is a not-insignificant portion of content that Nintendo just came up with for the port, which is A-OK in my book, and I will certainly be dedicating plenty of time to both this side story and the main game in the coming weeks. 

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