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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Mario Party like it's 1985

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Mario Party like it's 1985 Mario Party like it's 1985

I hate saxophones.

You need to understand this. It's incredibly important that you comprehend how much I loathe saxophones. I'm not sure what my reasoning is, but that particular instrument unleashes a very potent brand of hate into the deepest parts of my brain.

But as soon as I heard 'Super Mario 3D World''s opening notes, I honestly felt like I'd come home from school in 1992, dumping my Game Boy backpack at the door to run into the living room to play on the NES. A smile crept across my face unbidden, and I stepped into a future that looked so much like the past I could hardly tell the difference.

If you've played a 'Mario' game before, you know what to expect in terms of razor-thin story and ocean-deep gameplay: 1. Something bad happened. 2. Jump on the person that caused the bad thing. 'Super Mario 3D World' sets the stage quickly and quietly, letting its platforming do all of the talking for it.

The game is set around a 3D isometric view, which helps build a bridge between earlier 2D 'Mario' titles and the the 3D 'Super Mario 64' and 'Super Mario Galaxy' games. This creates a fantastic and flexible stage to showcase the agility that 3D 'Mario' games control with while still invoking the simpler feel of the 2D games. Spring jumping, somersaults and crouch jumping all make a return, with wall-kicking and character differences in speed jump height/length giving each level a different life as you switch between them.

The powerups, returning with favorites Tanooki Suit and Fire Flower, have added the Cat Suit to their list. This ability allows you to clamber up walls and dive-bomb enemies. It's easily the most useful Mario powerup since the P-Wing in 'Super Mario Bros. 3.' You'll want to keep it around as much as possible (which is fairly easy thanks to the 'Super Mario World'-esque item storage system).

Graphically, 'Super Mario 3D World' is as comfortable in the Wii U hardware as can be. Everything runs at a glorious 60 frames a second (only at 720p, but I'm not going to split hairs), and the textures look amazing. Just take one gander at the Plessie levels and tell me that this game wasn't custom-made to fit the Nintendo's little next-gen-system-that-could. Nintendo never skimps on their first-party games, and 'SM3DW' is no exception.

I have very, very few quibbles with this game, but I will mention that sometimes the isometric view can make judging certain jumps a bit difficult. It's not a massive issue, but more than a few times I found myself longing for the third-person camera of 3D 'Mario' games gone by.

You know what fascinates me the most about 'Super Mario 3D World'? It's not the incredibly slick graphics, the tight platforming or the best mixture of modern breakthroughs and sheer nostalgia that the world has ever seen. All of those things are fantastic and worthy of far more than my mere 700-or-so words here.

No, no, no, my dear reader. It's something much more significant.

Sitting in the upper-right hand corner, nestled next to my generally-depleted stash of lives, is Mario's character portrait. It's classic Mario, looking as if he'd been fresh from posing for an NES cover, and yet I can't get over how sharp and high-res that little portrait looks. I find myself staring at it, as if 5-year-old me and 25-year-old me are looking at the exact same thing. That red-hatted, overalled plumber looks exactly the same.

He is the very definition of timeless, and 'Super Mario 3D World' is living, breathing, singing proof that Nintendo magic very well may have the same longevity as Disney one day.

However, they'll never make me love saxophones. It's just not happening.

Aaron Waite has a dog that needs a night light to sleep.


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