Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury review: Let’s-a go!

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Oh, the Wii U. That poor ol’ console really was a trial for Nintendo. But just because it didn’t sell well, let’s not forget some of the goodies that graced the platform.

Premier of which is Super Mario 3D World, now ported for Nintendo Switch in fine fettle, complete with brand new add-on Bowser’s Fury. The latter of which is the most bonkers Mario game we’ve played since Super Mario Sunshine (also re-released for Switch as part of Super Mario 3D All-Stars).

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We’ve had Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury on our Switch for three weeks, playing our way through its vast array of levels, to see whether Mario’s remastered world, including its online multiplayer, is the platforming perfection everyone needs right now – whether new to the game or already a fan.

Bowser’s Fury review

First thing’s first: the title that people most want to know about, as it’s all new. Yes, it’s Bowser’s Fury. This Switch exclusive has certainly got tongues wagging. So what’s it all about?

Well, Bowser’s Fury is quite unlike any Mario game we’ve played before. Largely because you play assisted by Bowser Jr. – who is available for a second player to command if you wish (otherwise he’s computer controlled – but you can state whether he’s helpful “a lot” or “a little”) – in taking down a very angry Bowser.

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That’s right: you’re helping your usual enemy in the goal of greater good. Mario has such a heart of gold, eh? But that premise is just the start in a rather whacky caper.

Bowser’s Fury feels more open-world than many recent Mario titles. It’s set in a giant expanse where you need to continue to open additional levels by collecting what are called Cat Shines.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury review: Let's-a go!

In the centre of this expanse is Bowser, his head plonked down in the mud, who becomes rather irritated by this Cat Shine collecting and, intermittently during traversing the open-world – which we think has some elements of Super Mario Odyssey meets Mario 64 about it – Bowser will get, well, furious and start spitting fire in Mario’s general direction.

Bowser’s Fury’s world lovingly takes on elements from the wider Super Mario 3D World game – the most prominent of which is the Cat Mario power-up – and adds further twists. Specifically that, in order to take on giant bowser you need to become Giga Cat Mario – yup, a giant cat Mario! – to defeat your dino-like foe.

Bowser’s Fury is a great add-on. But it also feels just that: like an extra, rather than something quite established enough to be its own packaged title. So it’s the perfect way to release this slice of Mario newness; plus those who have already played through the Wii U version of Super Mario 3D World should see immediate extra worth in their purchase.

Super Mario 3D World: Floaty fun

But back to the main event: Super Mario 3D World. Which, for Nintendo Switch, is given an extra lick of paint with sharper graphics, smoother and faster characters, and three-dimentional platform gaming fun just as you’d expect.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury review: Let's-a go!

It’s humble to the original Wii U game, so whether you want to relive that experience – from back in 2013, indeed it’s been about seven-and-a-half years now – or learn now why even back then it was a future classic, it’s a great opportunity.

If you’re as old as we are then you’ll find all the references as part of the 1990 SNES original, Super Mario World, extra charming. The boss themes, for example, largely overlap; the music often echoes the original, albeit brought bang up to date. It’s like a 3D homage, as the game’s title ultimately spells out.

But as Super Mario 3D World is, indeed, in three dimensions you’ll quickly need to get to grips with the “floaty” nature of the characters’ mechanics, as it’s very easy to get lost in space and not land where you want to go.

In addition to the usual favourites – firepower, mushrooms, mega Mario – there’s also the Cat Mario power-up, obtained in the form of a bell, which gives this game its most distinctive feature. As Cat Mario you can climb walls, swipe at enemies, giving the game a real distinction from any other Mario title. Not that you’re Cat Mario all the time – but you’ll often want to be.

There are plenty of levels to master, plus lots of replay value thanks to collectible stars – three per level – and an individual ‘stamp’ that adds to a sticker book. To achieve all that’s on offer will take an awful lot of practice – and we’re still not that far into those finer details.

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