Mario and friends are back for a familiar adventure in Nintendo's first ever 3D multiplayer platformer, "Super Mario 3D World." The game, developed by the same studio that made the "Super Mario Galaxy" games, features an all new multi-player co-op mode in a 3D environment strikingly similar in design to Nintendo's classic side-scroller "Super Mario Bros 2."
We went hands-on with game at this year's E3 gaming expo, testing single-player and cooperative modes. Single-player features control over the game's camera angle, allowing players to look slightly ahead to see what they are about to face, or look back to see if they've missed something.
In co-op mode, the camera is set at a fixed angle with up to four playing at once. Nintendo has characters share one screen during 3D exploration, not requiring a split-screen or additional monitors as co-op games often do. It's this option that really makes this Mario game stand apart.
Players can choose to play as Toad, who moves faster than the other characters, or Luigi, whose legs flail randomly as he jumps. Players can also choose to control Princess Peach, who can use her skirt to float long distances to your desired destination. Oh, and of course you can also play as Mario. He can jump the highest.
Most levels featured floating environments that were separated by extensive opens spaces. Players are able to get between different areas of the environment via a teleportation box. Once you use one of these boxes, you can't go back. All four players can traverse the worlds on a number of different paths that offer some exploration, though that exploration is limited. As the player at the front of the pack moves ahead, the camera follows them, which could lead to some of your teammates falling behind. Once a character has fallen far enough behind, they are transported back to the pack via a floating bubble. The player cannot die just because they fall behind.
Each level has its own unique look with extensive 3D backdrops thanks to a high definition upgrade that adds noticeable depth to the gameplay experience. The 3D graphics looked so good that at some points during the demo it felt as if I was watching a cut-scene and not actually playing.
"Super Mario 3D" World also features new transparent obstacles such as pipes and clouds that the characters can use to travel around the levels. This means that your character will never disappear behind a large item and be lost forever in digital abyss, which is especially handy when dealing with a fixed camera angle.
One new power-up unique to "Super Mario 3D World" is the Cat Suit, which players earn by finding a golden bell. Once a player has acquired the Cat Suit, he or she is able to walk up walls they would not normally be able to walk on. The new power-up also lets players scratch their razor-sharp claws against enemies to defeat them.
Overall, "Super Mario 3D World" brings a fresh new feel, look and experience to Nintendo's iconic franchise that any gaming fan, old or young, can enjoy. You can expect Mario's next big adventure come this December, exclusively for the Wii U.