A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is an action/adventure game for the Nintendo Switch. This is a re-release of a Wii U game from 2013 with lots of added content. As in the original game, players spend their time running around brightly colored environments dressed in various power-bestowing outfits (such as a cat suit), making their way to each level's end while solving puzzles and occasionally hopping on or shooting a fireball toward the cartoonish enemies that try to block their progress. The violence is pretty tame, with fantasy creatures like goombas and koopa troopas simply disappearing once defeated. Cooperative local multiplayer makes for a rich and rewarding social gaming experience for up to four friends, and the upbeat vibe and push to explore the world and help other characters foster a sense of curiosity and discovery. Keep in mind, though, that Mario is a juggernaut game property, and once players get a taste for him in this game, they're bound to want some of his other games and related fan merchandise. This includes amiibo, which are used to unlock special bonus items during play. New amiibo specifically themed to this game will be available for purchase during its release.
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What's it about?
SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD + BOWSER'S FURY is a remastered and lightly reworked version of a classic platformer first released for Wii U. In bringing it to a fresh audience, Nintendo has kept the core game -- in which Mario and his friends adventure to save the Sprixie kingdom -- intact. Players explore imaginative three-dimensional stages alone or with the help of up to three additional friends, by running, jumping, climbing, and dodging. Each character -- Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Rosalina -- has his or her own special ability, such as being able to jump a bit higher. The developers have taken advantage of the Switch's more powerful hardware to spruce up the graphics a bit, and they've also tweaked some of the play systems, giving players improved control by making the heroes move a little quicker and adding a picture-taking mode to make it easy to share images of the game with friends. The main draw for returning players will likely be an entirely new set of stages to explore in Bowser's Fury, where Mario teams up with Bowser Jr. to figure out what has driven his dad into a fit of rage. It employs the same game mechanics but places the action in a bigger, free-to-roam open world with cat-themed objects. Bowser Jr. tags along with Mario, controlled either by another player or the game's artificial intelligence, acting as a helper who runs around grabbing coins and power-ups to save you time.
Is it any good?
It's no secret that the Wii U never really caught on with gamers like other Nintendo consoles, despite being home to a number of great games like this one. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury -- an exemplary entry in the Mario catalog -- on Switch is a welcome treat. Its 3D worlds are inspired, loaded with seemingly endless secrets and items to collect, from stamps to power-ups that you can store for later use if your hero already has one. And the cat suit makes for wonderfully memorable play scenarios as players try to make Mario scramble up walls to reveal hidden areas and attack enemies head-on. It looks and plays a little better, thanks to some of the tweaks Nintendo made for this port, but the reason it remains such a great game eight years after it originally launched is because of its timeless controls and classic design, which in many ways hearken back to previous Mario platformers and seem almost never to age. The ability to play with others -- locally or online -- and choose from a variety of characters just adds to the fun.
The original game alone should be enough to convince plenty of families to pick this one up, but the addition of what essentially feels like a second game in Bowser's Fury -- which you can choose to start playing right out of the box from the main menu -- is a terrific bonus. It's smaller than the adventure it's been bundled with but provides players with an open world to explore, which isn't something Mario fans have had before. The free-to-roam design means this game doesn't feel as tightly choreographed as other Mario adventures, and the constant threat of a raging Bowser showing up to make chaos rain from the skies for several minutes can be a little intimidating (though you'll have opportunity to make Mario grow to enormous size to combat him). But Bowser's Fury provides plenty of opportunity to further hone your Mario platforming skills. And the lovely feline-themed world in which it's set, where everything from the trees and shrubs Mario passes to the badges he collects are bestowed with cat-like cuteness, will be a treat for cat lovers. It's an excellent finish for what's already a terrific game, and just the sort of incentive that should prove alluring to anyone who loved the original but is sitting on the fence for this remaster. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury should find a warm welcome from players of all ages on Nintendo Switch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Mario's character strengths. Mario started out as a standard hero saving stereotypical damsels in distress, but how has his character -- as well as those of his allies and enemies -- changed over time?
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is designed to be played both alone and with others. Do you prefer playing by yourself, or with others? If you like playing with others, is it because it makes the game easier or because you enjoy the social aspect?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: February 12, 2021
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: December 18, 2021
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