JAPANESE GAMES GIANT Nintendo's Wii U games console hasn't had much success since it was released just over a year ago, having struggled to match sales numbers seen by Nintendo's previous Wii console and its 3DS handheld device.
With Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's Xbox One next generation games consoles hot on its heels, Nintendo is hoping to turn those flagging sales around and please those who already have a Wii U console with the release of Super Mario 3D World. So we decided to put it to the test ahead of the Xmas console wars to see if it's good enough to keep everyone entertained over the festive period - or if it's time to retire the Wii and go down the Microsoft or Sony gaming route.
Super Mario 3D World sees Mario joined by his old-school lineup of Luigi, Toad and Princess - a nightmare for four lads chipping in to buy the game, perhaps - and rather than follow the tried and tested route of its successful 2D Mario titles, Nintendo's Super Mario 3D World is something completely different, combining Nintendo 3DS title Super Mario 3D Land with the firm's 2D games.
Bringing such unfamiliar gameplay to Wii U users was a big risk for Nintendo, but a risk that certainly has paid off for the company.
Those after a gripping story might be a little displeased, as Super Mario 3D World sees Mario and chums find a tunnel leading to the undiscovered world of the Sprixies, only to find that Bowser, typically, has got their first.
Your mission is to find these Sprixies, and to do so you must navigate around the expansive Super Mario 3D World map, where you'll find everything from mini-games, houses, and one player Gamepad-only levels, where you can earn yourself up to ten green stars - which replace the coins found in Nintendo's 2D Mario titles - using Captain Todd, swivelling camera angles and a lot of logical thinking.
The levels are brilliantly abstract in design and Super Mario 3D World is the most gorgeous and best soundtracked Mario title we have played yet. World two's Shadow Play Alley, for example, sees you navigating your character using nothing more than a sillhouette, and other levels take abstract to the next level with their awkward camera angles and hidden passages. Our favourite level is world three's Mount Must Dash, a fast-paced Mario Kart-themed title reminiscent of Nintendo's multiplayer racing Wii title.
While these new levels and add-ons are very welcome, the real magic of Super Mario 3D World is in the detail. The new suits and power ups, which you can pick up and store to use later on in the game, are a particular highlight.
For example, Super Bell dresses up the characters in a cat suit, allowing them to climb walls and use their claws to attack enemies, while Double Cherry clones your character, meaning you have to control multiple Marios or Toads around the course, which isn't always a easy task, particularly in multiplayer mode. Our personal favourite however is the new Ice Skate, which sees you jumping in a makeshift shoe to navigate your way around the icy levels.
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