If you’re looking for fun local multiplayer gaming, Nintendo is definitely the place to be. It seems to always have been that way, since local multiplayer gained popularity (in the days before online, if you remember) through Mario Kart, Mario Party and, of course, Super Smash Brothers.
There hasn’t really been enough of these experiences on Nintendo’s latest platform, even Nintendo Land was hardly multiplayer focused, despite having a few good games and Game & Wario had a bigger share of single player gaming than multiplayer components.
And perhaps that’s where Nintendo have gone wrong – there’s not enough on the system to push multiplayer and sell the system to friends and family. Thankfully, with Super Mario 3D World (not to mention Mario Kart 8 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze) Nintendo seem to be getting it finally right.
Super Mario 3D World isn’t the Galaxy successor we had hoped for, instead it’s a sequel to the 3DS title Super Mario 3D Land, in an odd jump from handheld to home console. It is, however, a rare game which will leave you constantly smiling as you play through the wonderfully designed levels with up to three friends.
It shares the same sort of gameplay as 3D Land, with more of a fixed camera angle than the usual home console Super Mario titles, as well as timed gameplay, featuring power-ups and flags akin to the Mario Bros. series. Importantly there’s support for up to four players, and it’s here that the gameplay really shines, whether you’re jumping through a classic level, fighting a boss or riding a creature down a river.
All of the five levels I played offered something different, and each was even more fun than the last. First, there was the new Cat suit, which allows Mario and friends (including Luigi, Toad and Peach – wait, why hasn’t she been kidnapped this time?) to climb walls to reach secrets and collect stars or even speedily attack enemies with claws.
One level featured a boss, which seemed like a mish-mash of Super Mario Galaxy’s Bowser fights and a Super Mario 64 arena. This boss was rather big, with various other tall creatures protecting it. It was up to the players to ground-pound the smaller creatures and then, finally, the boss himself. All good fun.
But the real fun came with the third level I played, where all four players hastily rode a dinosaur-like creature down a river, avoiding obstacles along the way. Sounds simple rather than exciting, right? Well, the catch was that players all had some degree of control of the creature and verbal communication was required to make sure you all went the way you wanted. This created some rather barmy and hilarious moments, unmatched on any other console.
3D World is a step in the right direction – it’s certainly won me over, destroying any initial disappointment and worry about not getting a proper, fun Super Mario title. It’s essentially as much fun as Mario gets and perhaps as fun as local multiplayer in any game can get, which will leave you smiling all the way to the flagpole.
Mario Kart 8 is coming too – another brilliant effort from Nintendo, which is essentially an amalgamation of all the previous Kart titles. With gliders, coins, underwater gameplay, bikes and the all-new anti-grav features, there certainly seems to be a lot going on but rest assured, it’s as easy to pick up and play as ever – and just as fun on the multiplayer side of things. Both Kart and 3D World have a brilliant refined and colourful visual style, which suits the tone perfectly.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, too, has a great multiplayer mode that echoes and even betters New Super Mario Bros. U. There are a lot of reasons for families – and everyone, really – to pick up a Wii U this Christmas, and Super Mario 3D World is perhaps the best yet.