Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 10.02.2021

Review for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser

Has it really been over seven years since the original Super Mario 3D World released on Wii U? Perhaps the contrasting performances of the Switch and the previous Nintendo system have meant the last few years have seemingly flown by quicker than usual. After all, there has been a non-stop stream of high-quality software on the hugely successful Switch, and that has thankfully given an opportunity for Nintendo to bring its biggest Wii U titles to the current console, where they deservedly get their chance to shine. It took longer than expected, but timing this port with the Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary was probably on Nintendo's mind in bringing this one over, and the developer has gone the extra mile to provide an additional quest for good measure, culminating in the twin-adventure package of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury.

It is safe to assume a lot of current Nintendo Switch owners missed out on Super Mario 3D World, and many more still may find this is their first foray into a side-scrolling Mario game in the vein of classic Super Mario Bros. titles. Given how accessible most Mario games are, this is another great example of Nintendo catering to casual players, but also not forgetting the veterans that have been playing since the NES. With the inclusion of four-player co-operative gameplay that seems to be standard in traditional Mario platformers these days, this is a game that has enormous reach and appeal - so has Nintendo pulled it off?

Taking the start-to-finish gameplay style of 2D Mario and then doubling down on the 3D design seen in Super Mario 3D Land on Nintendo 3DS, Super Mario 3D World is most certainly the evolution one might have expected a classic Mario title to be in the post-2D gaming world. The Switch has already had its open world Mario game in the form of Super Mario Odyssey, and for even more of a fix, fans can always pick up Super Mario 3D All-Stars for as long as it is available (still a ridiculous decision to make it a timed release). Anyone pining for core platforming in quickfire levels, complete with time limits and power-ups that hark back to the 8- and 16-bit days, however, will find this is the game they want to invest in.

Borrowing a leaf out of the Super Mario Bros. 2 book, four characters in the form of Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad can all be chosen to play as prior to beginning any stage and come complete with their own unique traits that determine how they perform in gameplay. Luigi has that long, floaty jump; Peach can hover in the air for a moment; Toad is the fastest sprinter of the crew; and good old Mario is the all-rounder. Given this is a multiplayer game, too, the inexperienced amongst the group may feel more comfortable playing as Peach, for her lengthy air time can mean making it across pits and dodging enemies becomes that little bit easier.

Screenshot for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury on Nintendo Switch

Even forgetting the multiplayer element, having the ability to play as any of these iconic characters in a Mario platformer is wonderful, yet despite being able to unlock one other character, which bumps the roster up to five, dare it be said, it would have been truly satisfying to see a couple more faces that didn't appear in the original Wii U version. Unless this reviewer simply hasn't met the full requirements yet, it is a shame that Yoshi or the oft overlooked Daisy don't make playable appearances at the very least. More playable females are never a bad thing, after all, especially in Mario games that quite evidently appeal to more than just hardcore male gamers. *Sigh* Maybe next time, desert princess.

Whether Super Mario 3D World functions best as a solo or multiplayer game, however… That is another matter. There are certainly pros and cons to both setups. In truth, single-player is probably the optimal way to go if looking for a great side-scrolling Mario experience that reflects the old classics, as well as for the completionists out there looking to collect every optional green star and stamp. Two players at a time can be fine, too, but, for sure, with four characters all running around on the same screen, things can take a drastic turn.

No doubt about it, four-player co-op is fun. Treating multiplayer more casually if playing with the family or those less familiar with Mario games, however, is advised, because while some aspects to gameplay become easier the more characters there are (e.g. collecting red coins before they disappear), not all stages are designed perfectly for four people - at least, not without expecting numerous accidents and failures occurring.

Screenshot for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury on Nintendo Switch

Generally, levels are spacious enough that four characters can run around without getting in each other's way, but the moment sections get tighter and precise platforming comes into play, it becomes clear not every part of 3D World is designed for multiple players. This is obvious when everyone needs to try to squeeze onto moving lifts that require characters to stand on one side to get it to move in a particular direction. With characters bumping into one another and the bizarre decision to force the "run" and "pick up" functions onto the same button, players will accidentally knock off, pick up, and even throw others into pits or enemies without even realising it.

A lack of optional permanent and bolder display names above each character further makes things harder to keep track of, particularly once characters turn into their cat forms, where Mario loses his distinguishable red colour scheme and becomes yellow instead. Usernames appear in small text when idle, but it can be difficult to determine who is who during play at times, which is why less players at once can make this better for those concentrated on completing each stage to its fullest with as few distractions as possible outside of each level's own hazards.

That isn't to say there is no fun to be had in large groups, though! Nothing is impossible with more players, and as mentioned, certain parts become easier and can be completed faster this way. Plus, the more eyes the better when searching for points of interest that may hide those green stars and stamps. It would be wise to treat the game in a more casual way if playing with youngsters and other family members, though, because although this is co-op oriented, the game nudges a competitive element to try to get one over one another.

Screenshot for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury on Nintendo Switch

As mentioned, players can pick each other up, and while this can be incredibly useful as a help tool to get someone to reach a high ledge or power-up, or even just because they don't want to handle a tricky platforming segment, those with a dark side can use this to purposely lob someone off a cliff or into an enemy. If you wanted to be extra mean, you could grab all the power-ups before others pick one up for themselves, and even try to raise the flag on the pole first to bag those extra points at the end.

There are plenty of ways to hinder others, which may or may not be the cause of rage quits, family arguments, relationship breakups, or broken controllers. The rankings at the end of each stage that display the total points accumulated by each player awards a crown that the current top performer wears in the next stage, too. It is all a bit worthless in the end; there aren't any bonuses for coming out on top aside from boosting the ego and upsetting younger players that can't quite do as well as their siblings or parents.

Scores (and lives) are certainly a dated element in Mario games, and despite the effort to add some competition on that front here, it does fall flat when it is quickly discovered there are no real benefits to fighting for top spot. The option to hide scores and rankings would have been preferred, which would perhaps divert the attention away from the worry of failure and onto working together to complete each level. Competition can be fun, but it does lose its appeal rather rapidly here.

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New to the Nintendo Switch version of Super Mario 3D World is a much-requested feature in the form of online play! So many Nintendo games are begging for the option to play with others over a network, and too many times Nintendo slips up on that front, but it is great to finally get that choice here, which will surely allow multiplayer to be taken advantage of by many who previously only managed to play through the Wii U version on their own.

Online setup is a simple process, with one person being the designated host. With a simple R button press from anywhere on the map screen, local or online multiplayer can be initiated, and mutual Switch friends can see and join others hosting a room. Invites are not possible, so contacting each other through other means will be necessary to get a session going. Additionally, only two people playing from the same Switch will be able to join the room, so that needs to be kept in mind if three local players are hoping to hop online with one more faraway buddy.

Now for the real kicker. Like one of the big controversies that surrounded Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition's release last year, only the host will have progress saved to their file. For some, this won't be a major issue. For others, it is going to cause a bit of a headache. No question about it, there are going to be friends of four that live in distant places around the world - or, heck, maybe in the same town, but, due to current world events, are unable to visit each other - that are planning to play through this adventure together online.

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Who, though, gets to have this progress saved over anybody else? Does the group complete one world, then change hosts and complete the same world again, and again, and again, so that everybody makes the same progress and sees that reflected on their own game file? Even if only two friends are hooking up for online play, it is still a tough decision to decide who retains that progress. Completing two, three or four worlds in one sitting won't be unachievable for many good players, yet some may find they can't get around to joining in online again to continue progress on the next game night. Such non-hosting players will have to replay those stages and worlds all over again on their own at some point, which may not feel like such an enticing prospect.

There are understandable reasons why things have been designed this way. Nintendo doesn't want someone that hasn't progressed as far as their friend to be able to jump into their room, play through levels that they haven't gained access to themselves yet, and then have that saved onto their file once the session is over. It could be that the way multiplayer was designed to begin with just cannot account for this type of online setup. It cannot be helped but to feel disappointed by this, however. Perhaps Nintendo tried to get something in place but couldn't. It would be great to hear a proper response from the developers in that regard, because, like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, for such a multiplayer-driven game, to push playing together so much and then not have your progress retained after journeying through portions of the game, however large or small, it has the potential to put some players off from bothering at all.

Again, many may not feel heavily aggrieved by this, and people may be more than happy to replay some stages on their own or with friends later so that they have that data saved, too, but it cannot help but be wondered whether options could have been implemented. Perhaps a system that looks at all players' files and forces them to only be able to access the stages of the user that has made the least progress? From there, everyone can continue together to unlock the next stages. Failing that, what if data was still saved for non-hosting players that haven't reached a world on their own file yet, so that when they do get there when offline, those levels have been completed? The option, at least, would have been nice.

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The desire here isn't to turn this into a list of ideas Nintendo could have implemented, but it is an expression of disappointment at how the thought of playing this great game online hits a real sour note because of this hindrance, especially as this reviewer has gone through this all before so very recently in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. To have progress locked to the host is a bummer…but if Nintendo's plan was to get people replaying the game, they may well succeed. Thankfully, levels are short and can be blasted through in no time, and switching hosts can be done rather quickly.

Otherwise, online play that was experienced in the preview event that Nintendo kindly demonstrated and invited Cubed3 to be a part of was a pleasant ordeal. Some lag crept in at times, with a little slowdown and characters popping around, but in general, gameplay was smooth and enjoyable. How that will fare with those across continents remains to be seen, as only folks in the UK were a part of this online demo. To a continue a positive note, at least online play has indeed made its way in here. Far too many Nintendo games don't have this ability, so whatever setbacks, it is still refreshing to have this feature at last.

Super Mario 3D World is certainly an evolution of the Super Mario Bros. formula that the more open world titles can't quite deliver. Despite having "3D" in the title, it has far more in common with those classic 2D games than the likes of Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Odyssey. Mario's moveset is more limited than in the latter games, and levels are rather brief, fixed with a time limit that pushes players to move forward, instead of exploring and gazing at the background. As a result, though, it makes for an extremely focused game where each stage is almost entirely different from any other.

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While the visual style is nothing massively original, it is a step above the bland identity of New Super Mario Bros. titles, with vibrant colours and lovely grass effects that spring to life on TV or handheld. In some respects, and perhaps in due part to this being what is effectively a Super Mario Bros. style game, it looks like the setting of Super Mario World was thrown down a 3D warp pipe and this was the result. Guess it's all in the name, huh? Still, this does make Yoshi's omission that more apparent…

Super Mario 3D World's focused approach to levels works wonders. Essentially every stage has its own gimmick or core mechanic to overcome or learn, whether it be activating all panels on floors to advance to the next area; dodging gusts of wind being blown from giant puffy clouds; riding aback Plessie the dinosaur through on-rails water courses; flinging characters from trapezes; or avoiding searchlights that will trigger a barrage of Bullet Bills to home in on you.

Whilst certain design themes return over the course of the game, not one stage feels like one that was played before, and there aren't many platformers that are able to pull off such feats. This is in such stark contrast to New Super Mario Bros. games that it isn't funny - although Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is still in a league of its own on that front.

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What a Mario fan with a host of experience might find disappointing, however - at least until late into the game - is the lack of challenge. That's great for anyone looking to introduce the kids to Super Mario, or just anyone unfamiliar with the series in general, but long-time Mario pros will find little to trouble them, and it is the green stars and stamps hidden in each level that will be where most of the tests come from (even then, though, that isn't much). Challenging levels are there; they just take a while to get to them.

Those three green stars in each level are usually not terribly tricky to find, although they are a requirement for gaining access to certain stages. There are more than enough to go around, so players shouldn't have any real trouble having enough to progress, but it is an odd idea to halt progression when surely the reward for reaching a stage should be…to be able to play the stage you reached. Fair enough for secret worlds or postgame content, but throughout normal worlds? It likely won't faze those that don't actively try to avoid green stars, but some players may have to replay a few stages here and there.

It is the stamps that are a tad more difficult to find. One of these is hidden in each stage, and they reward with a nice piece of 2D artwork of a character or item from the game. These can be used during the snapshot mode, activated any time with a button press, whereby creative pictures can be produced by moving, rotating, and resizing the icons and placing them in the level being played in. This is a preferable way to utilising these unlockables than limiting them to messages in the now-defunct Miiverse on Wii U. With the addition of filters, some amusing snapshots will undoubtedly be created, and although it might only get a few minutes of attention amongst most players, it's hard to argue against including the feature. Most welcome.

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Anyone wondering about those fun little Captain Toad puzzle stages found in each world will be pleased to know they can now be played in multiplayer online, with each person taking control of one of the Toad Brigade members. These stages kicked off an entire game centred around Captain Toad's adventures, and they are still as enjoyable now as they were on Wii U.

Super Mario 3D World is a delicious soup of platforming ideas that Nintendo did excellently to cook together, proving the developer really can push Mario into positive new directions - and at a time they were failing to do just do that with each subsequent New Super Mario Bros. game holding the plumber back more and more. Not every stage's core idea can be viewed as massively original or pushing the genre forward in unique ways, and it is a generally easy game until much later, but its focus delivers a consistent level of out-and-out fun from beginning to end. Whether solo or with friends, online or offline, Switch owners can't go wrong.

Those that have played the original game on Wii U will be extremely pleased to hear Nintendo has gone the extra mile and bundled a totally original adventure into this release. Bowser's Fury is an entirely separate game from Super Mario 3D World that can be played instantly. It focuses solely on Mario, where his stumbling into the serene Lake Lapcat turns out to be a bit of a nightmare. Going all in on the cat theme introduced in 3D World, this region is feline heaven, where just about everything, from Koopa Troopas to Goombas to seagulls to the very architecture of the areas themselves, embrace the unmistakable look of the fluffy creatures.

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What is most apparent upon taking the reigns of Mario, though, is that this is a fully open world, explorable in the vein of any level found in a 3D Mario title. Lake Lapcat itself is essentially one giant playground that goes all in on the kinds of platforming everyone knows and loves about Super Mario games. There is no central hub or map screen to take you to other worlds; this game takes place completely at the lake, giving off vibes of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, what with its multitude of mini islands that Mario can gain access to.

Striking up an unlikely partnership with Bowser Jr, Mario comes face to face with possibly the coolest looking Bowser yet seen in the franchise. Fury Bowser is the result of the big, bad King of the Koopas getting caught up in some sort of icky paint-like goop and failing to control his anger issues. Having grown to monstrous proportions, the red-maned lizard is out of control, hence Junior's reluctant desire to ask for the father and son's adversary to provide his services and get Papa back to normal.

On the lake's isles, lighthouses covered in the same substance that coats Bowser need lighting back up. By travelling to each one and completing objectives to collect Cat Shines, the area can slowly begin to recover from the terror that Fury Bowser has unleashed on the place. Such objectives range from defeating enemies, reaching heights, completing platforming segments, and even steering Plessie through rings on the water's surface, for the trusty steed makes a welcome return to make getting around the lake that much easier (hence the Wind Waker similarities!).

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The huge twist to the quest, though? Fury Bowser isn't just some regular, old end-of-game boss, oh no. This guy is called Fury Bowser for a reason! His inability to control his rage means he cannot stay in one place for long, periodically coming out to "play." Whether you are in the middle of riding a lift around a cliff, trying to stomp a group of enemies, steering Plessie to the next island, or attempting to platform your way to glory, Bowser will not care. He'll jump out to rain fire and fury, throwing a giant spanner in the works of Mario's current task.

Every few minutes, the peaceful and beautiful atmosphere of the lake turns apocalyptic, with rocks and fireballs falling from the sky, and Bowser unleashing the most incredible stream of post-curry fire breath from his jaws. Given that most tasks aren't that much trouble to complete, this switch-up changes gameplay for the better, completely altering the emotions and increasing the tension in the moment.

Some platforming sections can be totally butchered by Bowser's influence, necessitating trying again, except with the intention to do things a little quicker and before the Koopa King emerges once more. Although it may sound bothersome (and in plenty of cases, Bowser's fury might feel contagious!), this mechanic is a welcome spin on Mario platforming, making accomplishments feel even more rewarding. For the most part, it isn't so much that the game has many tough moments, but Bowser's appearances add that required degree of challenge to what seem like simple exercises. The choice is to either dodge the attacks, wait out the rage and let Bowser tire himself out, or quickly grab that Cat Shine to light up the nearest lighthouse, blinding the King and getting him to retreat. Mario platforming has never been so fear-inducing!

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After a certain amount of Cat Shines have been acquired, it's time for one heck of a showdown with the big guy, with Mario taking on a Giga Cat form to square off in some crazy Godzilla versus King Kong-like battle. The whole thing is hilariously ludicrous, but with Fury Bowser's temporary defeat, it paves the way for more islands to explore, and Plessie making himself worthwhile in allowing Mario to hunt down more Shines.

As a minor, but certainly welcome, inclusion, a second local player may take control of Bowser Jr. in this adventure, completely movable as he flies around in his mini clown-copter. Sort of functioning like the co-op ability in Super Mario Galaxy, player two can use Junior to bop enemies, collect coins, and find hidden secrets about the islands. While a solo player can use pointer controls to move a cursor and ask him to examine a spot of interest for a power-up or the like, a second player can freely move there whilst the Mario player goes about their business. With no repercussions for Bowser Jr. getting hurt, and since he cannot fall into pits, the co-op mode offered here is ideal for younger children or siblings to make them feel like they're helping out.

No one can really argue against Nintendo going well out of its way to create Bowser's Fury. Its biggest crime, though, may just be that it makes you want more. The timed occurrences of Fury Bowser don't overstay their welcome, because this quest is a short-lived one that can be done in a few hours - perhaps topping out around six or so if wanting to find everything. Before things get too annoying, the game ends, but the problem is that it still feels like a taster of something greater.

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This short but sweet adventure is - with the exception of a handful of sections - void of reasonable challenge, but it is most definitely an enjoyable one. There is a range of ideas squashed down into what is essentially a world the size of a Super Mario Odyssey level, which makes for a concise game that matches Super Mario 3D World in terms of its ability to present a package that is fun from beginning to end. Is it worth it for those that have beaten 3D World before, though?

The answer here is, sadly, probably not. If you're only interested in this package for Bowser's Fury, this is going to be an expensive game. The quality is undeniable, but it is extremely difficult to justify this being the same price as Super Mario Odyssey if ignoring the 3D World content. Hopefully, Nintendo will release Bowser's Fury as a standalone purchase soon, because it is going to be a shame for those that aren't interested in 3D World to miss out on the former. Everyone knows Nintendo only knocks a third off its games during sales, too, and that still may not be enough.

Oh, and Nintendo, please start adding sound options to your games! Bowser's Fury is another example of audio mixing not being done brilliantly. Fury Bowser's appearances bring with him an awesome heavy metal theme, yet it is way too quiet to appreciate, getting drowned out by the sound effects being hammered out around Mario. The more options players have over their experiences, the more enjoyment they will have. Whether it is audio, separating functions on the same buttons, displaying usernames - there are still some basics Nintendo needs to get sorted.

Screenshot for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Super Mario 3D World may not have had much added to it aside from an online function that is limited to only saving progress for the host, but it didn't necessarily need much else. Nintendo successfully found a way to evolve the 2D classics without going open world, and the result is one of the most consistently fresh and enjoyable games around, which, despite lacking the challenge of the NES games, has something for just about everyone. The bonus Bowser's Fury solo adventure is an absolute delight with a brilliant core idea that adds a crazy tension to Mario platforming, but it is hard to present a case for purchasing this pack just to play it. Whilst full of great content, it is too short-lived to feel worth the asking price, and really needs a standalone purchase option. When taking both games into account for those that have not played the original Wii U title, though, this is a cracking bundle of Mario goodness that encapsulates what everyone knows and still loves about the moustachioed hero after an enduring thirty-five years.






3D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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