Tonight, I finished up Super Mario 3D Land, which I didn’t just enjoy, I loved. It’s a great Mario game and just an all-around great game. It plays well, feels rewarding, and has an amazingly surprising difficulty spike near the end that was really challenging to get through.
You can tell almost all that from this screenshot of my game file:
As you can see, I spent some time on this one, and managed a five-star file (which is the equivalent of a 100% completion to the game). To get that, you have to clear every stage in the game with both Mario and Luigi, hit the top of the flagpole at the end at least once for every level, and complete a crazy final level called 8-Crown.
(The life counter there reads 1,084, by the way. The maximum number of lives you can have in the game is 1,110.)
It makes great use of 3D (especially some worlds that are shown top-down), has the powerups you expect, and does some novel things with the design of the game once you clear the first set of eight worlds. When you do that, there’s a second set of eight more worlds that open up, using the same basic designs but throwing in changes that make them much more challenging, like restricting the timer for a level or dropping in Cosmic Mario to chase you.
Later worlds will even combine the two, creating a tense experience that’s more like finding an optimal racing line than playing a recent Mario game. It hits that classic “pattern recognition” part of your brain that got you through the NES Mario games and drives people to speedrun things today.
It’s a nice challenge, but it did get a bit frustrating at times, as my wife will tell you when she had to put up with some more colorful language from me on some occasions. (Usually on those Cosmic Mario levels. They’re evil.) Like many good games, when you lose a life, you know it was your fault. The game doesn’t pull any punches in those last worlds and it takes some skill to clear them and grab all the Star Medals.
According to Activity Log, it took me 16:36 to clear the whole game, which was time well-spent. If you like platformers or have been disappointed in recent Mario games, I would urge you to give this one a shot. You can grab it from Amazon here.