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Deciding to take a break from the interstellar gameplay provided by Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, Super Mario 3D World takes pages from the likes of both Mario 64 and Super Mario 3D Land, while adding its own unique flair to the Mario mythos. Princess Peach, Toad, and Luigi are also joining in on the fun as playable characters—so it looks like Bowser won’t be kidnapping the princess for a change.
I was able to go hands-on with a couple different levels in Super Mario 3D World, each of which showcased some of the new elements that are being brought into the gameplay this go around.
The first level introduced me to the new Cat Suit Mushroom (Catshroom?), which allowed me to scratch Goombas into submission, climb up walls to explore new pathways for some serious coinage, and collect the new green stars. In another very neat trick, the Cat Suit also lets you climb the end-of-stage flagpole, so you’ll still have a fighting chance at that bonus 1-Up even if you don’t nail the jump.
I then got to explore some of the new clear pipes with Princess Peach. And yes, you can choose to play as any character to start the game. Much like in Super Mario Bros. 2, they don’t need to be unlocked first. In fact, the powers that made Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad play differently in that game exist here as well. The clear pipes created fun new puzzles, as enemies, spiked balls, and other obstacles could be ready to zap your powers should you enter or take a turn at the wrong time.
When all was said and done, I walked away convinced that Mario had done it again. Somehow, someway, I enjoyed every second of the new worlds I was exploring, even as they all felt amazingly familiar. New powers, new puzzles, and new co-op play might make Super Mario World 3D the best 3D Mario yet, and I can’t wait for its December release.