When the 3DS launched back in March, many fans like me were upset due to the lack of a Mario title.  Well, the wait is now over and Mario is finally here in full 3D.

Super Mario 3D Land is a 3D platformer that manages to combine the gameplay of New Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario Galaxy into one great title.

The story is very basic for a Mario Title.  Outside of Princess Peach’s castle is a Tree full of Super Leaves (for turning Mario into Tanooki Mario).  One night, a big storm blows the Super Leaves off and they scatter throughout the Mushroom Kingdom.  That morning, as Peach is checking out the damage, Bowser swoops on in and captures her.  Now it’s up to Mario to save her once again!  Time to start jumping on things.

Super Mario 3D Land borrows from the New Super Mario Bros. games in that each level is timed and must be completed by finding and hopping on a flagpole (and has three hidden Star Coins to find)

The power-ups in Super Mario 3D Land are very reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3.  For instance, the Tanooki Suit is back after a long hiatus.  Additionally, many of the enemies, stages, environments, and more are right out of Super Mario Bros. 3 and the game has a very nostalgic look and feel for that reason.

There are influences from Super Mario Galaxy as well as some of the gameplay elements are borrowed directly from the hit Wii titles.

While Super Mario 3D Land borrows elements from various other Mario games it has a playstyle all its own (one that I thought up of over 10 years ago).  As mentioned before it’s very linear, like New Super Mario Bros., but because the game is in 3D, it allows for further exploration in the depth of the stages.

Some stages will feel more like a 2D platformer with the ability to choose the exact plane of movement, while others are more open to full 3D world exploration (while still maintaining the simple goal of getting to the end of a level by jumping on le flagpole).  Each stage is also no longer than three minutes, which is great for a portable game.

From the overworld map there are now new Mystery Boxes, and of course Toad Houses are also back.  Toad Houses, when visited, will give players a random Power Up.  The Mystery Boxes put Mario in a small box and give the player a short time limit to defeat all the enemies on the screen.  These challenges can also yield the player more Star Coins outside of those hidden in the normal levels.  These are important because some levels require that the player has a certain number of Star Coins to proceed, so just forgetting about getting them isn’t an option.  This is a good thing though as most of the challenge in the game comes from getting all the Star Coins and completing the level.

Mario also has many of his moves from the 3D Mario Games.  He can Run, Jump, do a twisting backflp, duck, walljump, ground pound, standard backflip, longjump, and a dive roll.  One of the only problems I have with Mario’s move arsenal is that diving into enemies doesn’t hurt them.  While this is typically not an issue, fans may remember that in Super Mario 64, doing a similar attack would hurt some enemies.

As previously mentioned, Super Mario 3D Land is also full of power up suits and abilities.  The classic Fire Power is back giving Mario the ability to shoot fireballs at enemies at a distance.  The much talked about Tanooki Suit also makes its return.  Being Tanooki Mario allows the player to flutter around for slow falling, making platforming much more manageable.  Additionally, Mario can attack enemies at close range with the Tanooki tail.  The Boomerang Suit makes its Super Mario debut, allowing the player to throw a boomerang at moderate distances.  The boomerang can pick up coins as well, making it useful for nabbing many Star Coins in dangerous spots.  The final suit is the Stone Tanooki Suit.  This suit, only available after the first eight worlds are cleared, has the same abilities as the standard Tanooki Suit, but it allows Mario to turn into a stone statue that is invulnerable to enemy attacks.

The suits are a ton of fun, but I have a small problem here.  Why are there two Tanooki suits when the standard one functions more like the Raccoon suit from Super Mario Bros. 3?  Why did Nintendo feel that getting rid of another classic suit with similar abilities was necessary?  I’ll likely never know and you’ll likely never care.