A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Mario 3D Land is a platform puzzle game featuring the iconic Mario. In order to save the princess from the evil Bowser, players guide Mario through a series of colorful and unique "worlds," filled with obstacles that range from jumping across platforms to dodging fireballs and cartoon bullet creatures. The level of violence is on par with every other Mario game -- Mario needs to jump on enemies, shoot fireballs, and defeat Bowser to save the princess, but these depictions involve whimsical sound effects and the enemies are seen as obstacles rather than creatures that need to be defeated. Parents need to remember that Nintendo is warning all parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.
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What's it about?
The story of Super Mario 3D Land revolves around Mario working tirelessly to save Princess Peach, who has once again been captured by Mario's archrival Bowser. Mario must traverse eight worlds, each filled with a variety of levels that test players' mettle and push their gaming skills to the limit. As always with this franchise, the game is challenging but there are concessions for novice players that make it more manageable. The game is filled with throwbacks to classic Mario titles, including music, power-ups, and environments that made some of the early games in the series iconic.
Is it any good?
Super Mario 3D Land was designed with the intention of bringing back the "old-school" appeal that has drawn in millions of gamers over the last two decades. It delivers on that goal in droves. Ardent Mario fans will appreciate the many nods to vintage Mario titles, while everyone will become entranced by the way the 3D presentation adds a new layer of gameplay. Players can run between the background and foreground to clear obstacles and collect items in a way that truly takes advantage of the 3DS's visual capabilities.
What's more, many of the levels seem deceptively easy but in reality provide intense challenges that will have players trying over and over again, making the feeling of completing each level ultimately rewarding. In short, it is a Mario game that delivers on everything players would expect from such a legendary franchise.