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on November 13, 2011
I'll begin by saying that this game has exceeded my expectations. Upon watching online videos, I figured this would be a watered-down Mario Galaxy title, but boy, was I wrong! The videos DO NOT do the game justice. I didn't think Nintendo would have been able to do it, but this is by far the first Mario game in a long time that has retained the uniqueness and charm of the series as I remember it on the NES. New Super Mario Bros. Wii came really close, but Super Mario 3D Land does it for me.

~ First, the power-ups:
The Tanooki suit's revival in this game is genius. You can hover with Mario's tail for a while and tail-strike enemies just as you can in Super Mario Bros. 3. I'm a little bummed you can't actually fly this time around, but I'm guessing it wouldn't have worked as well in this title anyway. Fire Mario feels great, too. I haven't played far enough into the game to obtain the Boomerang Bros. suit or Statue suit, but I'm sure they will be awesome too based on what I've seen thus far.

~ Second, the levels:
While at first I thought the levels in this game seemed vacuous and dull and too similar to the levels in the Galaxy series based on online videos I've seen, my first hands-on experience with this game proved my initial thoughts to be WAY incorrect. The level designs are brilliant. The designers have packed so many obstacles, enemies, warp pipes, music note blocks, and hidden areas into the levels that the game stays exciting throughout. Also, the levels are not too long since you are timed. Thus, you can get through a level in a few minutes, but if you need more time there are stopwatches you can collect along the way to add valuable seconds to your overall time limit for the level. These come in handy if you want to do some exploring for the three hidden coins in each level. If you're like me and occasionally grow tired of some of the longer levels from Galaxy, then you'll be happy with the quickness yet depth of the levels in 3D Land. The levels look AND feel like actual Mario levels in their design. To top it all off, you'll recognize remakes of some classic Super Mario Bros. 3 tunes, as well!

~ Third, the controls:
Mario's signature moves are back: crouch, backflip, long jump, side somersault, wall jump, and ground pound. There is also a new move - the roll - in which Mario can roll forward from the crouching position. The only move that hasn't been brought back is the triple jump, but I don't feel as though it would've been useful in this style of Mario game anyway. The moves are easy to execute with the layout of the 3DS's thumbstick and buttons. Furthermore, controlling Mario feels completely natural. For instance, running with Y and tail-striking enemies along the way is both easy and fun to do! As I mentioned earlier, the Tanooki suit's signature moves are back, too, such as hovering and tail-striking, both of which feel great.

~ Fourth, the graphics and the 3D:
The graphics in this game are on par with, if not better than, the graphics in the Galaxy series. Mario, the enemies, and the levels all look stunning. The 3D effect in the game looks stunning, too, and it's awesome to see Mario in full 3D for the first time. The 3D also helps with depth perception, and, as anyone can guess, the ability to see in 3D certainly comes in handy for a platforming title such as Mario in which you have to make perfectly executed jumps. Also, in addition to the 3D slider bar, you can also control the 3D effect by choosing from two 3D options while playing that will provide either a shallower or deeper depth of field, so the 3D is more customizable in this 3DS game than in any other.

If you don't own a 3DS yet but want one, then this is the time to get it. Super Mario 3D Land, maybe aside from Zelda: OoT or Star Fox 64 (both of which are remakes, anyway), is the best original game on the 3DS, hands-down, and it combines everything gamers adore from Super Mario Bros 1 and 3, and Super Mario 64. From the controls to the level design, every aspect of this game retains the fun and charm of the original NES Mario titles that I remember so fondly but have not seen in any Mario title in recent years.
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There is no question about Mario. He has not only been the most influential video game character of all time, but has had honestly the most definitive impact on how we play great platform games that have never lost their luster. Over 25 years after Super Mario Brothers debuted, people still love to go for the flag, and try to knock Bowser off his perch all to save Princess Toadstool from the claws of the king. The game franchise has never honestly gotten old, and has stayed just as strong today for every Nintendo era. The last Mario platformer for the go handheld was New Super Mario Brothers for the Nintendo DS. It really was fun and entertaining for the DS, and Mario's Wii games like Super Mario Galaxy have changed the way we play with Mario in zero gravity. But now with the Nintendo 3DS which came out just last Spring, they haven't yet had a definitive Mario platformer. Well, they are about to have one now, and a little treat for the fans young and old of the past 25 years too.

Super Mario 3D Land, is a new and exciting Mario game that still shows how amazing the Mario games have never gotten old. The game brings in a new twist on the classic 2D platformers by bringing back some of the amazement from the classic Super Mario Brothers 3. Just like what New Super Mario Bros. Wii did by bringing back the forgotten Koopa kids and giving them a hard-hitting challenge against Mario. This time it is the beloved tanooki racoon suit returning to the mix from Mario 3 returns, as shown in the story of the game, as well as the classic foe Boom-Boom. As Bowser not only captures Peach, but steals a bunch of tanooki leaves giving Bowser, and his cohorts tanooki powers to try and stop Mario from his wrath on the Mushroom Kingdom. It is challenging as characters like the classic goomba and Boo now can go against Mario with tanooki racoon tails to try and swat you. But that isn't just it alone, Mario also has new elements of power at his side too: including the tanooki leaf, the classic mushroom, as well as the new Boomerang power-up, which Mario can throw boomerangs at his foes and they will come back to him at his side, just like the classic Boomerang Brothers from Super Mario 3.

The gameplay takes all the elements from the classic Mario games in both 2D and 3D like Super Mario 64, and giving them a 3D twist by having you race against the clock trying to make it to the goal before time runs out. There are also classic items to be found including the bonus coins, and warp pipes, as well as a few new treats as well. The gameplay is very addictive from start to finish, and has shown that they haven't gotten old. The controls are also very simple and easy to master on each level, as you leap from block to block, and hopping in pipe to pipe, all trying to make your way to the goal. The sound is also classic Mario as well, by not getting old, and remaining distinctive as before. It takes timing and a lot of guts to master this new adventure, but honestly die hard Mario fans will definitive love this new challenge, as well as new ones too.

All in all, Super Mario 3D Land is a definite must buy game for the Nintendo 3DS. It truly has shown that no matter what the gaming universe has to come around, Mario has still been a great constant in the gaming universe that continues to evolve and be just as fun today as it did back then. I definitely love the challenge this game has, and I know this will be a great game for you to play on the Nintendo 3DS (and only available on the Nintendo 3DS.) There haven't been a lot of definitive games for the Nintendo 3DS since last Spring, but this is definitely one of them that I absolutely recommend.

Graphics: A-

Sound: A-

Control: A

Fun & Enjoyment: A

Overall: A-
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VINE VOICEon November 13, 2011
Back in the days of the original Gameboy, the Super Mario Lands were hailed for being relatively different from the usual Mario experience. Sure you were still stomping and such, but you faced wildly different enemies and got some very different power ups. Super Mario 3D Land is not a sequel to those games in anyway. But like the Super Mario Land games, it takes a different approach to the Mario formula while keeping in sync with what has made it successful. Here the change is mostly the fact that it plays like the 2D side scrolling games in a 3D world. And for the most part it actually works.

Mario has never been a game anyone has picked up for story. We all know what it's about. Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser and it's up to Mario to go and save her once more. It's pretty standard stuff. As mentioned earlier it harkens back to the 2D Mario games in a way. There's a straightforward overworld map to go through and you'll begin in level 1-1 before moving on to 1-2 etc. At the end of each world is either a castle or an airship with a boss waiting in wait. It seems traditional all around and like it offers up absolutely nothing until you're actually playing the levels themselves. For a handheld game, 3D Land offers players quite a bit to experience.

The levels here are well designed. Each one ends when you find the flagpole at the end, but getting there isn't always an easy feat. You can roam around in full 3D instead of side scrolling. For the most part you can roam just about anywhere. Throughout each level there are a lot of hidden goodies as well. There are blocks that house powerups and plenty of enemies to stomp, but each level also has little goodies hidden off the beaten path. There are secret 1UP mushrooms and hidden areas to explore in just about every level. Each level is also uniquely different from the previous one. The game often throws new challenges at you to keep you on your toes.

The stages themselves are pretty short, however. This is obviously due to it being a handheld and being on the go. But there is usually reason to go back and play each one. Like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, there are three Star Coins in each level. For players who want to experience everything that Super Mario 3D Land has to offer, you'll want them as they unlock challenging levels later in the game.

Mario 3D Land also uses the suit system found in Super Mario Bros. 3. For the most part there's fire Mario and Tanooki Mario, but there are times when you'll find something to help Mario out in different ways. For example, Mario can now find a powerup that allows him to throw boomerangs. Much like the 2D games, Mario doesn't have a health meter or anything like that. Rather it's done based on his power ups. Taking one hit makes him lose his power, a second makes him small and a third does him in. Super Mario 3D Land isn't a terribly hard game, but if you happen to fail too many times the game is more than willing to help you out by either giving suit that makes you invincible or by skipping it out right. While this may seem like handholding, those who go about it this way will literally miss out on half the game by doing so. As well as several secrets. You DON'T get Star Coins by skipping a level. On the other hand, keeping your lives in supply is rather simple. There are 1UP mushrooms everywhere. Each level also has a checkpoint. Super Mario 3D Land can be challenging, but it certainly is in no hurry to punish the player.

Up until now the 3D on the 3DS has seemed somewhat like a gimmick. It isn't quite that way in Super Mario 3D Land. While you can most certainly play through the game with the 3D off there are times when having it on will actually make a difference in the ease of play. Certain rooms that contain Star Coins are actually puzzles where you must try and figure out the optical illusion. With the 3D on it actually really helps. You CAN solve these puzzle like moments without the 3D effect but it's much more difficult to do so. The 3D is also done rather well in other ways. Up until now a lot of 3DS games have either been obsessed with having things "pop out" at the player or making the game look more dynamic. But here the 3D actually adds depth perception to the game itself. Where you actually get a sense of just how far away a particular platform is or even how close an enemy in the background really is to getting to you. It may not seem like much from the outset, but it certainly makes the 3D much more than just a gimmick here. But the game is still enjoyable should you decide you don't want to play with the 3D on at all.

In terms of visual appeal, Mario 3D Land looks absolutely amazing. It is very similar to look and feel of Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii. There is certainly enough here to give you a sense of what the future of technology on the 3DS can be. There's a lot of detail to each level. It's just easy on the eyes overall. What may not bode well for the player all the time is the lack of control over the camera. For the most part the camera sticks with you pretty well and moves perfectly in tune with where you are and where you need to go. There are times, however, when the lack of being able to move the camera yourself can leave you baffled on where to go next. It won't cause you to die much, but it will make certain platforming moments slightly more difficult simply because you aren't sure right off hand where the next platform actually is.

Super Mario 3D Land doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it takes the best of the 2D games and combines them with the best of the 3D games and somehow makes it work. The levels may be short but they're plentiful and there's a ton of replay value here. For those dying to invest some time in a 3DS game, Super Mario 3D Land is well worth that time.
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on December 23, 2011
It's pretty amazing how successful Mario has been for the 25+ years he has been stomping Bowzer and his army of koopas in order to save Peach. Each Mario release is hailed as a veritable masterwork in the platforming genre, both in 2-D and in 3-D. The reason I say it's amazing because Mario games have all essentially boiled down to the joy of two simple things, running and jumping. Sure there has been a lot of additions to this formula over the years, additions like suits, triple jumps, long jumps, and other things, but it's all on the backbone of traversing the magical Mushroom Kingdom through running and jumping. Super Mario 3D Land does not change this, it never needed to, *but* it does provide quite a few changes to what you'd expect from a Mario platformer. Prior to release, it had a lot of pressure on its shoulders to be the premier "killer app" that would prove the 3DS' worth as a game developed specifically for the system. Let me just say right now, Super Mario 3D Land definitely succeeds in that endeavor, but honestly, this is a fantastic Mario platformer, period.

Do I really need to cover the story here? With some very rare, unusual exceptions and the Mario RPG games, Mario games have always been about the Italian plumber embarking on a quest to free his Princess Peach from the evil clutches of the Koopa King Bowzer. Nothing is different here. The only thing that stands out is the fact that a tree full of Tanooki leaves releases them into the wind and now Bowzer and his minions will, for the first time, utilize power-ups for their own nefarious use as well as Mario. The story is virtually non-existent here, but that's ok. "Stories" in Mario games have always fulfilled their purpose of giving context to the gameplay and then letting that take over, and it does so here.

The gameplay in 3D Land is both a jam-packed package of nostalgic concepts from Mario's history, most notably his 2-D outings from the NES and SNES days, and a game where he seems to continue his momentum of reaching ever forward, as seen in the stellar Super Mario Galaxy 2. Of course, Mario's masterfully intuitive, excellently implemented platforming controls are here. You'll be running, jumping, wall jumping, etc. You won't be triple jumping, however, which was jarring at first. The suit system makes a return, and so does the Tanooki suit from Super Mario Bros. 3. New suits, like the Boomerang Bros. suit, the helicopter block, as well as the 3D iteration of the Tanooki suit, all feel so good to use, and in the form of the hovering jump of the Tanooki suit, can really make the game easier, which is nice. Old returns like the fire suit are also implemented well in this new 3D environment. The level design is exceptional and the journey to the end pole is so fun and satisfying!

Playing this game really feels so nostalgic. In fact, almost everything in the game is really reminiscent of the classic 2-D masterpieces, Super Mario Bros. 3 in particular. It's hard to explain, but imagine your favorite, most masterfully designed Mario Bros. 3 levels, but from Mario's perspective and made into a full 3-D environment. Toss in familiar Tanooki and Fire suits. Remember the classic songs and art design, and re-imagine them with a Super Mario Galaxy 2 quality makeover. Also toss in the linear, flagpole objective from the original Super Mario Bros. game, as well as the type of Bowzer fights that classic offered. Add all of these classic ideas to the more modern 3-D platforming mechanics and that's a pretty good idea of the sort of experience this game offers. Personally, I adore it all. Sure, we've seen many of these ideas before, but never in such a weird, Frankenstein-esque combination. Despite all the familiar ideas, this game felt strikingly fresh playing through, and that is high praise indeed. It's quite large too. I played through the main quest, about 8 worlds, but after beating it, another 8 worlds open up, as well as a new quest to save Luigi from Bowzer's grasp. This latter half of the game is a lot more challenging than the first half. A lot of value here.

The art design here is what you'd expect from a Mario game. It seems to take to the style first seen in Super Mario Galaxy and continued in its sequel. The implementation of this imaginative, aesthetically pleasing design is absolutely incredible. This game looks really, REALLY good. Imagine a portable GameCube (which is essentially the type of power the 3DS has) utilizing that sort of art design, with 3-D added in, and you get a fantastic game. Speaking of 3-D, this is some of the best I've seen on the system yet. This is the first truly great game where the 3-D is actually quite essential to successfully traversing the world and clearing trials, and the way that is put into effect is both clever and a delight to behold. I'm very impressed here. Sure, Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D had fantastic 3-D effects, but not to the point where it was absolutely essential to enjoy the experience to the fullest. This game really pulls through on fulfilling the 3DS' third-dimensional promises.

The sound and art design is, much like the rest of the game, full of nostalgia. Some of the original effects from the old NES classics appear with no changes whatsoever. Others are reimagined using more modern sounds. Same can be said for the music. I've recognized several OLD classic Mario tunes (especially Mario Bros. 3) that really sent me back in time and that was truly a joy for me personally. You just can't beat the classics. :)

All-in-all, Super Mario 3D Land is a triumph, not only for the 3DS, but for Mario in general. It not only lives up to the tremendous expectations put upon it to be the "killer app" of the 3DS, it greatly exceeds it. Made by the same champion Nintendo EAD team that created the masterpiece Super Mario Galaxy 2, this game continues in their momentous trend of putting out mind-blowingly stellar games. I love Mario as a series, I expect the highest value from its games, and yet this entry actually surprised me in its exceptional quality. So if you have a 3DS and your library is lacking, get this game immediately. If you are a moderate-big-huge fan of Mario (Personally, I fall under the "huge fan" category) and want a great new Mario experience, get this game. If you're a fan of extremely fun video games, period, get this game! You won't regret it. Buy it, run and jump through it, and enjoy its incredible combination of nostalgia and industry trailblazing!
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on December 1, 2011
Super Mario 3d Land is a complete joy to play. The controls are simple, the wide variety of levels are fun and the 3D visuals really enhance the beautiful graphics. Top it all off with great music and the spruced up familiar sound effects and this is a really fun portable game that anyone can enjoy.

Even though this is a 3D Mario title, it pays homage to previous linear side-scrolling Mario adventures including the original Super Mario on the NES. Each level ends with a flag pole. Some tunes are based on previous Mario games. There are also a lot more brick and "?" blocks than seen in previous 3D Mario games. It really feels like home, as if it's a logical progression between Super Mario World's linear gameplay style and Super Mario 64's open-ended objective based goal system.

This game utilizes the 3DS in creative ways. Some levels allow you to scope out the levels using a viewing system controlled by the system's motion sensors. The system's response to motion is very accurate. The 3D effect is also used very creatively. I couldn't help but smile the first time I hit a "?" block in true 3D! While the game can be played with the 3D effect turned off, many areas in the game all but require it to judge the depth of some platforms.

The first few worlds are really fun but also very easy. The difficulty increases as you go and some challenges are pretty tough. For inexperienced players there are a few mechanisms to help you along if you get stuck so don't give up!

Overall this is a great game suitable for just about any game player.
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on November 16, 2011

It seems like Princess Peach has been kidnapped... again. The overlying premise? It seems as if Bowser got a bit too Tanooki tail-happy, attaching them to everything from himself to Goombas, Boos, and Bullet Bills (really, Bowser, really?). As the usual Mario World fare, you'll fight through 8 worlds of high flying, fire flowering action, but this time, you'll get the aid of some pretty cool power-ups, ranging from the Tanooki Suit to the new Boomerang Suit! Also, if anyone remembers the good ol' Goomba shoe in Super Mario World 3, you'll get a similar power-up: the Propeller Block, which will allow you to soar even higher in to the air!

Gameplay: 9.5/10

Gameplay is fairly easy here: the levels aren't too hard, and you'll find yourself with an abundance of lives once you defeat Bowser in World 8. Each level is quite interesting, and none of them are quite a bore. Unfortunately, some levels require specific power-ups in order to unlock some cool things: the Tanooki Suit provides the ability to crank up blocks, the Fire Flower gives the ability to light some torches, and the Propeller Block can help you reach relatively unobtainable places. This gives it a pretty good challenge, as you'll need to map out and plan your abilities, but it can be frustrating at times when you reach a level and you don't have the necessary power-ups. Fortunately, obtaining power-ups are as easy as getting coins in the game-they're everywhere.

Also, as a little help to people who keep dying, you'll receive a special Invincible Tanooki Suit after dying a few times, which will grant you a sparkling white version of the Tanooki Suit that grants you infinite invincibility for the duration of the level. If that doesn't help you, after dying a few more times, you can also get the famed P Wing, which will fly you straight to the end of the level. This may be great for some, but where's the fun in that?

Finally, the Star Coins return as the level collectibles a la New Super Mario Bros. DS: there are 3 of these coins in each level, and they're used to unlock specific levels across the world map. These coins are fairly easy to get, though some are quite well hidden, providing an incentive to keep playing to 100% the game.

Replayability: 8/10

What happens after you beat World 8? Well, it seems like good ol' bro Luigi got himself in a bind, so you can now access a new Special World, which will stand as some much harder levels for Mario to plow through (all of this trouble just for Luigi? Sheesh!). Mini-games that used to be found in Super Mario 64 DS and New Super Mario Bros. DS are non-existent this time around, which is a shame, but the ability to gain items via StreetPass is a good addition, and you'll even receive items from people who don't even have the game! Another incentive is simply a time attack mode in which you can attempt to beat a person's fastest level time. Through it all, once everything is completed, there may be little reason to play through it again, but some levels stand to be just as fun after multiple runs through it.

Graphics: 9.5/10

If you're looking for some of the best quality graphics on the 3DS, Super Mario 3D Land has you covered. The visuals are quite astounding and the fluidity of the movements are just as incredible. As for the 3D effects? Astounding. If you've read other reviews, you'll find that most will recommend you playing in 3D at all times: I believe that playing in 2D can be achieved with a relatively same level of ease. You can easily turn on or off the 3D effects by simply pressing up or down on the D-pad, while also slightly tilting the camera left or right by pressing the corresponding directions on said D-pad.

Control: 9/10

Control is rather simplistic and follows the same line as most adventure/platform games. You'll move using the circle pad, crouch/butt smash with L or R, run/attack with Y or X, and jump using A or B. There's also some various combinations you can do with the above control scheme, which gives you more options especially when fighting in tight spaces. My only gripe here, though, is that since running and attacking or done using the same button, you may find yourself using attacks without meaning too, which can leave yourself open to enemy attacks, especially if you're using the Boomerang Suit. Nevertheless, the control scheme is solid despite the minor gripes.

Overall: 9/10

Super Mario 3D Land is Mario's first outing on Nintendo's newest portable platform. This game has been in the making for quite some time, but is fun nonetheless. Though the main quest can be beaten in a little under 6 hours, the game provides some nostalgia as a form of fan service to long time Mario fans. From the 8-bit Mario on the bottom screen's map layout, to the 8-pixel level with all things Mario (and Zelda), and even a level that is reminiscent of a classic Legend of Zelda dungeon, this game brings together generations of Mario games in to one great adventure.

(via [...])
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VINE VOICEon December 3, 2011
I'm a 37 year old male who grew up with and enjoy Super Mario games.

I finished Super Mario 3D Land, including the regular levels and all of the Special levels and got all the medallions in each level in around 17 hours. I also got all the post cards. 17 hours isn't bad value in my opinion. My biggest disappointment was that there were only a handful of levels that were truly challenging and it was only because I wanted to get the 3 medallions in them. The difficulty is way off of the normal mario games. Don't get me wrong, I like that it's accessible enough for all ages to's just that I think that completing all the side goals should be more challenging.

One nice thing that adds replay-ability is that every level keeps track of the fastest time it was finished. Even if you have beaten everything like I did, you can always go back and try to beat the level in record time. I might do this some, but I'm more of the type of player that likes to explore and find everything (like the medallions). Although, if my son gets into it and beats my score, I may have to go back and try to beat his :)

If you are getting this game for a 7-12 year old, it is more than worth the price and will keep them occupied for awhile. If you are a Mario fan like me, you will have fun and hold onto the game to make another run through it maybe a year later. I did enjoyed this game, but New Super Mario Bros on the DS was better overall in my opinion. I still haven't completed everything in that game after 2 years.

Now that the designers have experience designing levels for the new game, I think they'll make a much superior Super Mario 3D Land 2 that won't disappoint at all.
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on November 14, 2011
EDIT: There is Another stage still to unlock after beating all 16 worlds. After you beat every stage with both Mario and Luigi, collect all 3 star coins in every level, and Land on the top of the flagpole in every stage(giving you a gold flag), a NEW level opens up in Special World 8 that has no number. It has a crown instead. This stage might be the hardest stage ever in a Mario game. Good luck trying to beat it if you unlock it.

I've only had this for a day and played through the whole thing. My first thoughts were 1) it starts off very easy. 2)its a lot of fun. For a Mario game, if you're not having fun its not good. This one is a lot of FUN.

The difficulty increases as you play along and never gets too extreme. Like with the Galaxy games it tends to trend towards a medium-easy difficulty. And like with any platformer, the more familiar you are with the stage the easier you'll be able to beat it. For those stages that you have trouble with: you will receive a WHITE Tanooki suit after 5 deaths. The white one makes you invincible to enemies and projectiles but still can die from falling. And if that still isn't enough, you then get the P block that takes you to the end after 10 deaths. Unlike the helper in Donkey Country Returns, in the white suit you can still collect all the items as normal and keep them when finished. Never used the P block so I don't know much about that.

The game play is addicting. The 3D is essential. You can play with the 3D off, however its actually harder to beat because the game is made in a way that the 3D isn't just a stylized visual but essential to platforming well in every stage. And the 3D looks great by the way. Probably the best Yet on the 3DS.

Having played through the first 8 worlds(by the way, the 8th world has 2 more stages then first revealed), after beating the game you receive a photo: This shows Luigi locked up in prison. The implication is now that you rescued Princess, you start over and this time rescue Luigi. *Special World is unlocked where you now get 8 new worlds to beat.

I haven't beat this 2nd mission yet but I've heard you can play as Luigi, so maybe there is a 3rd version after or maybe he is rescued early on. I don't know. And also I heard there is a Statue power up, which I didn't find during the 1st games play through. The Tanooki suit is the most common, the good old Fire Flower is useful in a bunch of stages, there's a boomerang suit, a propeller box, and the good old plain red and white mushroom power up.

In terms of Mario games, I would say this more closely resembles Retro Mario and not N64 and Galaxy Mario. The goal is to reach a flagpole at the end, not collect a star or shine sprite. There is a time limit so each stage is rather quick (a few minutes long the most) and each stage you can find clocks to give you extra time- which makes you feel comfortable to explore stages even on the first playthrough.

But also, finishing faster will give you extra coins and more lives to play. I easily finished the game and had around 80 lives left over after. And I was playing kind of sloppy too.

It has a timeline similar to DS/Wii's New Super Mario Bros. and The Galaxy games where you don't necessarily have to play Every stage to advance. But you probably will anyway just because its that much fun. Certain parts (particularly the stages unlocked with the big Star coins) reminded me of Mario Sunshine's Retro stages.

Overall, I loved this game. It met my expectations. Maybe didn't surpass them, but since I only beat the first game I hold high enough expectations that the second, harder gameplay will probably surpass my current euphoria of playing it for a day. Which is why I am going to give this 5 stars and not 4.

Highly recommended to any Mario Platforming fans, and even to beginners who have never played any games in the series before. This could work as a nice introduction to All the variations on Mario that exist(excluding the RPG games).

EDIT: Started playing the new rescue Luigi Mission. There are pipes that show up on the map screen/timeline area. Entering these takes you to the Special world where you get New Stages (so its like a whole second game). You also now get new power ups. Like the Statue suit I said I didn't see the first time. There is also the Bad mushroom power up, originally seen in Super Mario Bros 2 (japan) or The Lost Levels. This mushroom will downgrade your power up. You rescue Luigi early and can play as him then.
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on November 15, 2011
Just letting you know, I've reached the first credits screen. I've beaten the 8 worlds, so this is my experience after it all.

Yes, the first 8 worlds are incredibly short. If I was really rushing through, not trying to get all the star coins on the way, it could've taken me like 4-5 hours to beat. So you'd imagine my slight disappointment waning over after the end of the 7th world, seeing as all prior content was relatively easy. BUT the quality of the experience was outstanding. I was awestricken by the depth and variety in the levels. BUT as an enthusiastic gamer, I needed something more. I then went to level 8, and the difficulty began to pick up. Features and obstacles from all previous worlds were mixing perfectly, and it became even more difficult, but not difficult enough. Then it came off as disappointed, until I came to a surprise that the game wasn't over! two more levels leading into the final level, both getting crazy intense, pushing me to the limits, until the final boss, which was ONE OF THE MOST FUN AND EPIC BOSS BATTLES I'VE PLAYED IN A WHILE, was done. I greatly enjoyed the experience

but still, 8 worlds is kinda short...I was hoping for more...
but to my surprise, THERE WAS MORE! after the credits rolled, I was given access to a new zone which shall not be revealed, but i can reveal that it is equivalent in length to the first worlds, but ten times more difficult! i had come to the belief that the first worlds were built for the casual and beginner gamers, and i was right, because the game becomes EXTREMELY hardcore later on. i've played enough of it to tell you that much. and if you want to collect all the star coins, it'll take you even longer!

and now i am satisfied, for this game has appealed to me as both a fan of mario games and a hardcore gamer in general

a short word on presentation. the graphics are galaxy-ish, which is a tremendous compliment to the new handheld. the 3D is actually useful and serves as an essential part of gameplay. the music is filled with joy, nostalgia, and epicness at appropriate times. controls are incredibly tight, and just about every time you die, it'll be your fault, not the game's.

so get this game, because it not only reflects all of mario's accomplishments over the past years, but is in general a huge landmark in gaming. it will appeal to beginners and hardcore experienced players alike. it is exactly what a handheld mario game should be.
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on November 13, 2011
This Game is overall super fun and amazing! if you are a fan of Super Mario Bros 3. or Super Mario Galaxy you will love this game because Nintendo essentially combined the gameplay elements from both which is genius and fun. This game seems to be a must have for any 3DS owned and Nintendo did a great job on making it feel fresh and on the 3D effects. The added a couple classic suits back to the game like the fire flower and the raccoon which is a joy to see and they also added some new ones like the boomerang suit which is extremely fun! The only thing i don't like about this game is the music they went from an orchestra in the galaxy games and retro remixes of new super Mario bros to just ughh i cant even explain but that's just my opinion and shouldn't be that big of a deal. To me the game is feeling to be a bit short seems like their are only 4 levels + bonus' to every world but like most Mario games it gets alot harder on the later worlds and i haven't played enough to fully judge the length of the game. Even if the game does lack length the secrets and the 3 star coins in each level will have you coming back for more which adds to the almost unlimited replayability that is Mario in the first place. In the end if you own a 3DS do yourself a favor and buy this game its one of the first true must have "Original" titles for the handheld and it doesn't disappoint.

Fun: 5/5
Gameplay: 5/5
Replayability: 5/5
Music: 3/5
Graphics: 5/5
Use of 3D: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
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