This weekend, Nintendo Switch owners will finally get to play a standout Mario game that few gamers have touched. Super Mario Bros. 3D World + Bowser’s Fury brings one of the Wii U’s best games to Nintendo’s infinitely more popular console. That means more people will get to experience the joys of Mario in a fursuit. On top of that, the Switch re-release adds a whole extra mode called Bowser’s Fury, which is extremely promising. It’s a slightly more difficult mode more akin to Super Mario Odyssey’s open-ended design. It also features Bowser Jr. in one of his most significant starring roles in years.
The Switch has provided a vital life raft for the Wii U. Nintendo’s weird two-screen console was loaded with hits that no one really got to play. With Super Mario 3D World, pretty much every major release in the Wii U’s library has now been salvaged (sorry, Star Fox Zero). But there’s something funny about this one. Thanks to the new Bowser’s Fury mode, the core game carries influences from Mario games that preceded Super Mario 3D World and ones that came out after it. That makes it a sort of modernized time capsule that’ll feel both old and new at the same time.
If you want to prepare yourself for the experience, there’s a handful of Mario games you’ll want to play first. Those range from old classics to newer entries in the long-running franchise. Here are but a handful of Mario games you should play before zipping up in a catsuit this Friday.
If you’ve yet to pick up the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, you’re running out of time. Nintendo’s weird timed release is disappearing from shelves and the eShop next month, so you’ll have to act fast. As it turns out, the release of Super Mario Bros. 3D World + Bowser’s Fury provides a good excuse to secure a copy. That’s specifically because of Super Mario Sunshine, the polarizing GameCube classic included in the collection.
Super Mario Sunshine revolves around one of the Mushroom Kingdom’s less developed villains, Bowser Jr. While he’s shown up in plenty of games over the years as a vague boss, Sunshine fleshes him out surprisingly well. The whole plot revolves around his sad search for a mom, which makes him into a strangely sympathetic bad guy. Bowser’s Fury looks like it’ll capitalize on that arc even further, making Bowser Jr. into a full-on ally in Mario’s adventure. Considering their history in Sunshine, that’ll make for a fun odd couple that longtime fans are sure to appreciate.
It’s hard to keep all the variations of the Mario franchise straight sometimes. You have your mainline games like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Odyssey that provide its biggest 3D adventures. Then you have the New Super Mario Bros. series, which acts as a retro throwback to Mario’s 2D platforming roots. But on top of that, you have the Mario 3D games, which blend both of those worlds together to create more traditional 3D platformers with no central gimmick.
To best get a sense of Super Mario 3D World’s gameplay, you’ll want to check out Super Mario 3D Land. The Nintendo 3DS game is an excellent 3D platformer with no frills. It’s just some good old fashioned running and jumping. Super Mario 3D World has largely the same vibe, with a focus on pure platforming. Even with the catsuit, there’s nothing here as extreme as Sunshine’s F.L.U.D.D. or Galaxy’s weird gravity system. It’s a game for purists who just want to translate their old school Mario skills to the third dimension.
One of the best parts about Super Mario 3D World is its four-player multiplayer. If you haven’t strayed too far outside of the mainline Mario series, the concept of multiplayer may seem foreign. Odyssey and Galaxy both included a sort of forced co-op option, but neither put two full characters on screen at the same time. If you’re thinking that that sounds particularly chaotic, you’re not wrong. But that’s also the fun of it. Multiplayer Mario is a messy affair designed to ruin friendships and that’s why it’s great.
To get a sense of what that’s like, you might want to check out New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. Another salvaged Wii U gem, the 2D platformer supports up to four players and it’s a total nightmare. Get three of your closest friends together and watch in horror as you all struggle to pop on the same platform at the same time. It creates a kind of personal slapstick comedy routine that’s at the very least memorable. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe will also give you a sense of the kind of extras Nintendo packs in with its Switch rereleases, making it an excellent primer for Bowser’s Fury.
Super Mario Odyssey | $50
Super Mario Odyssey is the kind of game that’s going to influence the entire platforming genre for years to come. We’re already seeing that with upcoming games like Balan Wonderland, but we’re even seeing it in the Mario franchise itself. The new Bowser’s Fury mode appears to take a page out of Odyssey’s book when it comes to more open levels with multiple objectives rather than one linear zone. The franchise has played with that idea for decades in games like Super Mario 64, but Odyssey refined the idea with fully realized locations like New Donk City that are filled with secrets.
While we don’t know exactly how long or involved Bowser’s Fury is yet, it’s arguably the most exciting part of this entire rerelease. It’s an entirely new game that takes the tight platforming of Super Mario 3D World and folds in a more modern game design approach. If it’s as good (and challenging) as it looks, it might be worth buying the package for that alone. But if you want to experience a full version of that idea instead of a side game, Super Mario Odyssey will scratch that itch for much longer.