Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury Review – Is That Godzilla?

Super Mario 3D World is a port of a game that was released on the Wii U in 2013. This new version released 12/02/2021 for the Nintendo Switch. Not only has the gameplay and graphics been updated but it also has a little addition.

The extra is an additional short campaign called Bowser’s Fury. This was not included in the original game and is just for this new release. Anyway, let’s just get into the review!

Gameplay? 7/10 – Decent 3D Mario gameplay only slightly undercut by bad and repeated boss fights, and bad cameras.

Super Mario 3D World

Let me just start here by saying that this is definitely not the best 3D Mario experience. Not one part of it beats out Super Mario Galaxy or Mario Odyssey.

It’s a pretty standard affair, in that you have a map that you run around. There are multiple worlds, each with a number of levels and other things.

Super Mario 3D World Catch that train

You have to run through each level to get to the flag before the timer runs out. Along the way you can pick up green stars, stamps, and extra time, as well as coins which, as usual, grant you an extra life when you get a hundred.

I have some complaints, like with the awful boss fights and things but I’ll talk about that in a bit.

One fantastic feature is the co-op gameplay for the whole game. Up to 4 players can all join forces and tackle a level together. Mario games make great couch co-op games so this is always a bonus. I believe this version also adds online co-op, so there’s finally a use for Nintendo Online.

Bowser’s Fury

This is honestly the best part about this game. Honestly, it’s not even close. It uses the same controls, feeling, and tightness, and even some of the same bosses.

Bowser's fury Who's that bowser

This is more of an open worldy type experience, more like Mario Odyssey than 3D World. You are in a watery area with a bunch of lighthouses. Most of the area is blocked off by black goo but you have some islands that you can explore.

Your objective is to collect a bunch of cat shines to power the lighthouses and eventually the Giga Bells. Every so often Fury Bowser awakens and starts raining havoc on you.

He uses a flamethrower and rock slide a bunch as you run around. When you get a cat shine it hurts him and he goes back to sleep. However, if you have a Giga Bell active you can use that to turn into Super Saiyan Cat Mario.

Now you’re as big as Fury Bowser and shiny you can actually fight him. When you beat him with Giga Mario more of the map is unlocked and you can make your way to more lighthouses. To get around more of this watery hellscape is Plessie. Your best water friend from the main game.

Bowser's fury Plessie

There’s some really good variation in the lighthouse areas and the challenges to get the cat shines. Honestly, this is a really good Mario experience. There is enough here to be just a single world in a large 3D Mario game. If they just added more worlds to explore this could be one of the best, in my honest opinion.

Problems?

I won’t say that there are countless issues with the gameplay in either campaign. The issues are pretty much confined to Super Mario 3D World. There also aren’t too many of them.

The first big one for me only  involves some of the levels you play in. There are certain levels where the camera is automatically scrolling, so you have to run alongside the camera. The problem is that the camera moves waaaaaaaaaaaay too slow. I cannot count how many times I had to stand still to wait for it to catch up. Then because you can’t see the hazards ahead of you, you often just die.

All of the boss fights are pretty boring. What makes this worse is that they’re all re-used. There aren’t that many different boss fights and you have to fight them twice each. They have slight differences, like an extra red shell, or more shadow clones. There’s just nothing enjoyable about the boss fights.

Super Mario 3D World Castle

Visuals? 9/10 – A great looking Mario experience. The real highlight is Bowser’s Fury, and Bowser Jr’s artwork.

There are basically 2 games here and both have different styles. Super Mario 3D World is a very good looking classic 3D Mario game. Honestly, there’s not much to say here really. It’s not that much better than the original release. It obviously has better resolution and texture quality but that’s about it. It’s brighter and clearer but still very much the same game released in 2013.

The real star, and this is going to be a theme, is Bowser’s Fury. The visuals here are on par with the best most recent Mario releases. Of particular note is the rain effects on the world and Mario himself. Honestly it looks so damn good. Give. Me. More.

Fury Bowser also looks incredible in his own right. There’s some incredible detail and animations at work all over. This is also important to point out but it’s an old school Japanese monster movie. It’s a giant, well whatever Bowser is at this point, and a giant lion fighting. It scratches all the required visual itches.

Audio? 10/10 – Another solid Mario soundtrack that encapsulates what you expect from the franchise.

Probably the best part of just about every Mario game is the soundtrack. These aren’t tracks that you’ll necessarily listen to on your drive to work or whilst you work out. They’re just fun little tunes that match the overall pacing of the game and support the gameplay.

Bowser's Fury kitties

If you’ve ever played a Mario game in the last 10 years you basically know this music. Nothing in particular stands out to me but that’s not a knock on the composition. It just fits.

This is my biggest thing with game music, no matter the genre, it needs to fit the game and style. In this specifically, Mario games are always a masterclass.

Story? 6/10 – Pretty much missing entirely from 3D World but saved somewhat by Bowser’s Fury.

This section is undeniably saved by the smaller addon that is Bowser’s Fury. Now not all of the regular platforming and ‘World’ Mario games have the most fleshed out stories. This is fine, as regularly the gameplay is what completely carries the game.This time though, in the main game there is even less than normal.

There’s barely even a set up, just a drawing shown to you and then Bowser taking a fairy away. That’s it. There’s your whole story. It’s genuinely worse than even the first Mario game. At least in that one you were told that you were in the wrong castle.

Super Mario 3D World Whole story

This is where Bowser’s Fury comes in, again it doesn’t have the most deep story but it’s something. Something has happened to Bowser and now he’s gone full Oozaru and can’t control himself. He’s all black and gooey, and he has a new fiery hairdo.

As the best child of Bowser, Bowser Jr. asks Mario for his help in saving his dad. Aww cute. Like the main game, the use of paintings is employed to aid the explanation. Even this is applied much more effectively than the main game though. For one thing, there is more than one picture used. The other is that Bowser Jr. is the best little artist that done ever lived.

Again neither is deep or really that engaging but at least there’s something there for Bowser’s Fury.

Acting? 8/10 – No actual dialogue in the game, an average of the other scores here.

Writing? 6/10 – Same thing for the story goes for the writing. More effort needed.

This honestly follows exactly the same as the Story section. There really isn’t much else to be said at all. The main game is shallow and there’s nothing written there. It is only slightly saved by the fact that there is at least some substance in Bowser’s Fury. Honestly, it would be entirely possible to create a decent narrative experience from Bowser’s Fury.

Bowser's Fury painting

It’s hard to pinpoint what to be critical of for this section as there’s next to none of it at all. You can’t critique what is not there. That being said, the main critique that I have for this, and have for other games, like Doom 2016, is more. It’s all well and good to say that the writing and the narrative isn’t the core focus. That isn’t a good enough excuse to just skip it all together though.

If tiny indie developers with no budget, time, or help can do it consistently, there is no excuse for huge corporations and teams at Nintendo to not at least do the bare minimum. Just adding in a proper opening exposition dump, then add some more part way through. Just something.

Performance? 10/10 – As might be expected form a first party Nintendo game, perfect performance.

Like a lot, or really all of Nintendo first party Switch games, it was flawless. Despite the limitations of the system and how much trouble some third parties have. Nintendo consistently releases the most stable games on the Switch.

In my whole time playing, I didn’t have a single frame drop. None of the load times were that long either. It was a genuinely perfect experience.

Bowser's Fury Super Saiyan

Fun Factor? 9/10 – Overall, despite some issues, a really fun experience. Especially giant monster fights.

Other than issues that I highlighted in the Gameplay section, Super Mario 3D World is a fun game. Much like most Mario games before and since, Mario is just fun. Running around, jumping on everything head, collecting coins, and wearing outfits.

The most important part of the whole Super Mario 3D World experience is the catsuit. There are no questions that this is probably my favourite Mario power yet. I especially like Luigi’s outfit as it’s green and makes him look like a frog! That’s very important.

Add on to this the Bowser’s Fury, it’s a great old time. I personally think that it makes the whole package. It’s fun, open, looks great, and has massive monster fights. I literally don’t need anything more in my life.

Some of the fun is undercut by the awful, repeating boss fights and some of the ridiculous camera work. Luckily, I don’t think these take too much away from a genuinely fun little Mario platformer.

Super Mario 3D World kitty bowser

Value? 8/10 – Decent value, added replayability for co-op and especially for Bowser’s Fury.

For a standard copy of Super Mario 3D World you’re looking at around £40. Which honestly isn’t too bad, even if it is a remaster, with some DLC. 

Then there’s the multiplayer aspect, which could add quite a lot of extra value to the game. There is also the usual Mario completionist stuff, like all of the stars and stamps. This could add quite a lot of playtime. Then there’s a postgame world with more levels so the fun doesn’t stop after the credits roll.

Here’s the thing though, Bowser’s Fury is the superior experience. The problem with that is that it’s a short add-on campaign. So Bowser’s Fury adds mad value to the package, it’s just a shame there wasn’t more of it.

How Much Did The Reviewer Enjoy It? 8/10 – I did enjoy the majority of 3D World but the absolute star of the show was Bowser’s Fury. More that please.

Super Mario 3D World is a decent 3D platformer. It has good variation on the levels and the powers. Most of the controls are tight enough for the kind of game you’re playing. The performance of the game was impeccable and the music as you’d expect as well. There really are a lot of things going for it, it’s just super hollow and lazy.

Super Mario 3D World bright light

Not even considering that it’s a remaster, there’s so many reused bosses for example. Bosses that are even then just copied into Bowser’s Fury, in basically the same arenas. It’s just very lacking in a lot of areas.

A lot of this game is saved by Bowser’s Fury. It’s honestly a really fun and enjoyable little experience. Seeing as it’s a much shorter addon, it really surprised me how much better it was. In like every way. The story was better, the graphics were vastly improved, the openness of the map was great. 

I enjoyed Bowser’s Fury so much more that I wish they just made a full game of that. Instead of spending time on the remaster from 2013, just give us a full Bowser’s Fury. I really hope that they give us another game just like Bowser’s Fury in the future.

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Super Mario 3D World Review – Is That Godzilla?
Written by Kyle Munn.

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