What is Super Mario 3D World?
Super Mario 3D World is a 3D platform game for the Wii U. Letting up to four friends play together in an adventure across the Mushroom Kingdom, all you'll need to get started is a GamePad for the main player, plus a Wii Remote for anyone else who wants to tag along. With four characters to choose from - the all-rounder Mario, his greener brother Luigi, who has a higher jump, the ever annoying (but speedy) Toad, and the beginner's favourite Peach, who can hover in mid air to make jumps that much easier, there's a character that'll play to everyone's strengths here, in what's a great game to play on your own, but one that's even better in co-op.
How do you play Super Mario 3D World?
Playing out like a mix between perennial favourites New Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Galaxy, the levels in Super Mario 3D World will instantly be familiar to any Mario fan. Seeing you running through the new, 3D levels, bouncing on the bad guy's heads, collecting coins, and searching for illusive green stars that are hidden in each level, before a mad dash to the flag pole at the end, it's a game that manages to be both familiar yet incredibly inventive, with a huge amount of variety to the levels.
Whether you're picking up a cat bell that turns you into a cat, letting you run up vertical walls; sitting in an ice skate as you slide around the snowy levels, or jumping on the back of a dinosaur along with your co-op buddies to go white water rafting down a waterfall, this is a bright, cheerful, and most importantly - incredibly fun - game that friend and family alike will love.
How easy is Super Mario 3D World to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Super Mario 3D World is surprisingly easy to get to grips with. While some of the levels may have some awkward jumps, awkward bosses to beat, or some strange camera angles, anyone who can handle similar games, like the LEGO series, Skylanders, or LittleBigPlanet should have little trouble finding their footing here.
However, there are a few things that make this a little bit trickier for new players. First up are the level time limits, which are sometimes overly generous, and at other times tighter than we'd like. Perhaps a bigger issue for novices, though, is the fact that you have a shared pool of lives. This can go either one of two ways - either it keeps newer/younger players in the game for longer, as once they've spent all their lives, they can start chewing their way through yours - or, the younger/newer players end up dying so much, they take you all back to the level select screen. With that in mind, there's a lot of team work required here - but it's still plenty of fun. Just make sure you let the newer players get their choice of the power ups!
Another couple of sections worth flagging up ask you to either touch blocks on the GamePad's touch screen, or blow on into the GamePad's microphone to move platforms - sometimes asking you to control your character and run around at the same time as blowing/touching. Needless to say, this requires some pretty impressive dexterity, and can be a little bit tricky to do, so it's best to make sure the player with the GamePad knows what they're doing.
For the youngest of players, it's also important to note that there's next to nothing in the way of reading here, so there's no reading ability required. Either way, little ones will find it easier to play along using a Wii Remote with a grown up or older sibling using the GamePad.
Super Mario 3D World has nothing that parents need to be aware of. Dispatching enemies is as simple as jumping on their head, at which point they'll squish and promptly disappear. With no swearing, sex, or anything in the way of realistic violence, this is thoroughly family friendly fun.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U