Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury review

The final entry in the Super Mario 35th Anniversary celebration is here in Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Super Mario 3D World is the latest game to be ported to Nintendo Switch from the Wii U given its original release date back in 2013. Bowser’s Fury is a brand new short title to accompany Super Mario 3D World, and these two games offer different sides of the Mario series style.

Many people, myself included, missed out on Super Mario 3D World when it first came out nearly 8 years ago. The title has been given a new lease of life and a massive audience with Nintendo Switch owners and it’s already shot to the 3rd best selling Super Mario title on Nintendo Switch ahead of Super Mario Maker 2 and New Super Mario Bros Deluxe but behind Super Mario Odyssey and Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

Super Mario 3D World is pretty much a straight port from the Wii U albeit a little faster. Players can play through 90+ levels of platforming, exploration and secrets. Players can play on their own or in full co-op. The sheer number of ideas that are packed into this game is something to behind from nostalgic platforming similar to the 2D Mario games, riding the back of a dinosaur on the water and chasing shadows in one very clever level.

The main new mechanic found in 3D World is the ability to turn into a cat which allows you to climb walls and attack with your paws. Super Mario 3D World often feels like it’s fan-made with the number of nods back to previous Super Mario titles. There’s the Fire Flower, Super Leaf and many more old classics to be found.

Players can be Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach or Toad in another nod back to Super Mario Bros. 2. At any time another player can jump in and you can play through levels in full co-op mode. I played much of the game in co-op with my missus and it was a whole lot of fun. If you don’t have someone in the same location, then this time Nintendo has added full online play so you can play co-op over the internet with friends or family. The co-op is a lot of fun however, players can drag each other through levels and sometimes this can get a little frustrating. How can pick each other up and throw each other off the map, but I don’t recommend doing this to your significant other… it might not go down too well!

Super Mario 3D World is a lot of fun either solo or in co-op mode. There’s the classic overworld from Super Mario 3 and World but this time instead of being stuck on a linear path, you can simply wander off and find where you want to go. There’s swimming, ice levels, even a level inspired by Mario Kart.

3D World is much more like the gameplay of a 2D classic Mario Bros game like 1-3. The path is linear, there’s a timer. It’s also very fast. Holding down the Y button on Nintendo Switch gives Mario a little speed boost and there’s a little visual indicator he’s running fast. This is much more of a return to the classic style of Mario we’ve had in the past. If you missed this one the first time round then I urge you to get hold of this title.

Bowser’s Fury on the other hand is much more in the style of the recent 3D Mario games we’ve seen like Super Mario Odyssey, Sunshine and to a certain extent Galaxy. Bowser’s Fury isn’t very long, but it’s a little taster into the Mario of the future. Thematically Super Mario 3D World + Bower’s Fury are similar with shared abilities like Mario having the ability to turn into a cat through the Super Bell power-up and also shared enemies like the goombas with cat ears, the big pecking birds that fall down to try and peck you and the marching band enemies. However, that’s where the comparisons stop.

The story in Bower’s Fury is Bowser Jr. needs your help to ‘save’ his father, Bowser. Mario initially looks pretty reluctant to help, you know given he’s been a pain in his side for 35 years. However, after little-to-no convincing Mario agrees to help. Mario has to collect Cat Shines to remove the dirty goop from the Cat Lighthouses to help save Bowser from whatever has happened to him.

Mario has a 3D open map to explore here across a series of little connected islands. You can pick and choose which areas to explore and the set pieces and mini puzzles here are really fantastic. The objective is to collect the cat shines and open up the giant bell power-up in the middle of the map, which will help you in your battles with Mega Bowser who stalks from the sidelines. Bowser Jr. is your slightly reluctant sidekick in the game and you can also play 2 players too – similar to Super Mario Odyssey where one player takes on the role of a supporting character, rather than the full-blown co-op of Super Mario 3D World.

Bowser’s Fury is much more of a 3D Mario adventure with an open world that you can explore. On occasions, it’ll start to rain and then a massive, angry Bowser will pop in from the background and start attacking the area with fireballs and other projectiles. Bowser has probably never been this intimidating in a Mario game. Once you collect enough Cat Shines then you can grab the power-up in the middle of the map and grow to a massive size too and battle Bowser.

The gameplay is fun. There’s a lot of connections here to Super Mario 3D world from a stylistic point of view, but also some gameplay elements. This feels much more like Super Mario Odyssey, albeit without the use of Cappy. Plessie makes a return from 3D World to help you swim and complete some tasks. Bowser interrupting can be a little annoying at times, especially if you are high up you may get knocked all the way down again to the lower levels. But it’s a small thing when compared to the overall fun you’re going to have with Bowser’s Fury.

Super Mario 3D World alone was enough to convince me to get this package, given I had missed it the first time around. I highly recommend the game if you haven’t played it and I also recommend playing it co-op. For me it was great to play through with the missus – We’ve tried other co-op games before, but they never felt quite as good as this one. Bowser’s Fury is a short but sweet outing for Mario. It kind of feels like something that was created in a short space of time in lockdown by Nintendo to give the audience an incentive to buy 3D World again. I’m not against Nintendo experimenting with these shorter titles like this and there are some really nice innovative gameplay moments here.

Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 12th February 2021