In this day and age, it seems impossible to miss all the hype – deserved and otherwise – that surrounds big name game releases. Developers and publishers mass distribute screenshots and other promotional imagery, as well as trailers, gameplay videos, and memorabilia. Most of the time, we judge whether a game is worth buying before it even hits its release date. And we may find that our predictions were spot on, or we may be sorely disappointed with a game that was all hype and no substance.
Rarely does the opposite occur: very little anticipation for a game predicted to be average at best, which then blows our meager expectations completely out of the water. This was the case with Super Mario 3D World; nobody expected this game to be the incredible triple-A platformer that Nintendo had been missing on the Wii U. Promotion was fairly restricted, trailers revealed little of the game experience, and all we really knew of that made it unique was some gimmick about cats. We all thought, “Oh. Another Mario game. Okay.” And now we’ve all had our minds blown.
To be perfectly honest, I bought this game on release day just for the bonus points from Club Nintendo. And because downloading games on the Wii U eShop is convenient and reliable enough that I could just turn the console on, set it to download, and come back to it an hour later. Which is exactly what I did, and then I decided I would play it for a few minutes just to see what it was like.
A few minutes turned into two hours. One stage turned into the whole first world. 3D World sucked me in like no other game since Uncharted 3, enticing me with vibrant visuals, a rich blend of new and familiar gameplay mechanics, and level designs unmatched in creativity by any other title in the franchise (save maybe Super Mario 64, which it alludes to in the most wonderfully subtle ways). And, yes, cats. This game is definitely Mario, but 3D World’s unique brand of quirky makes that almost too easy to forget.