Super Mario 3D Land released on the 3DS in 2011 and is the only version available. I played it on the 3DS in 2018.
The Mario Galaxy games were one of the few games that I played during my 2009-2016 break from gaming. Nintendo messed up on a lot of their franchises back then (cough cough Metroid Other M), but the 3D Mario games were untouchable. However, because I had skipped the 3DS for so long, I naturally missed Super Mario 3D Land as well. It was only after 100% completing Super Mario Odyssey this winter that I found this little guy on the internet and decided to give it a try.
It is, in short, what New Super Mario Bros. wished it could be.
Look, the New Super Mario Bros. games are… they’re okay. I understand that they are trying to recapture the old charm of the NES and SNES games. They have good 2D level design and are all about simple, accessible fun. But for me, those games are so same-y and safe that they have no life in them. 3D Land captures the spirit of what New Super Mario Bros. is trying to evoke much, much better.
In fact, 3D Land feels like a game from some alternate timeline, where Nintendo made 3D Land instead of Super Mario 64 as Mario’s first game in 3rd dimension. From the blocky worlds to the level gimmicks, it feels like a natural evolution of the old games. I adore it.
Keep in mind, though, that this game won’t blow anyone away, and it’s definitely the weakest 3D Mario game. The levels lean on the basic side, and there’s no world map to traverse. But there’s just enough room in each level for secrets and collectibles, and getting Luigi as a playable character for finishing the game was a great way to end it. It’s also a good showpony for the 3D effect. There’s certainly no shame in 3D Land being the weakest among giants like Galaxy 2 and Odyssey.
What did you think of Super Mario 3D Land? Am I too harsh on the New Super Mario Bros. games? I’d love to find someone who played the old 2D Mario games but never any of the 3D ones and see what they think, but that would be a hard find.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m need to go make an alternate history Nintendo fanfic!