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Bowser is up to no good again! This time he’s trapped adorable fairy-creatures in jars! It’s up to Mario, Luigi, Peach, and a blue Toad to stop him!
Then in Bowser’s Fury, the big King Koopa is on a rampage, but not an ordinary one. He’s been contaminated by some goop infecting the lake, so Bowser Jr. turns to Mario for help.
Super Mario 3D World is not my favorite game in terms of graphics. Everything is bright and cute and lovely, but I don’t think it looks as pleasing as other games. It’s kind of…bland? I do like how characters actually get wet though, that was a surprise! The maps are cute and each level shows a mini-model of what’s in store. The final Bowser world was my absolute favorite! I was in awe as soon as that part of the map loaded. It is so cool!
Despite being 3D, there isn’t a free motion camera. You can change the camera angle in increments, and not in all locations. It was a bit frustrating, but never hindered the gameplay. There are some levels that have a fixed camera, but it’s part of the challenge. It actually plays kind of more like a 2D platformer at times, which works given the old-meets-new theme of the game. The camera does get a little weird in Bowser’s Fury during the Bower battles; it moves around on its own, often in the opposite direction I wanted it to face.
Bowser’s Fury has the same exact bright graphics, but rather than a map that leads to each level, it’s set on an open-world type lake with several islands. You can climb to higher ground and get a 360 view of the surrounding areas. The more you progress, the more islands unlock. The world was a lot bigger than I thought at first.
Sound Effects + Music:
I love the soundtrack for Super Mario 3D World! The themes for each world were cute and fit the theme, and I constantly had the W1 music stuck in my head. But the Bowser world theme was my absolute favorite. It matched the vibe exactly and was super catchy.
There are some very familiar sound effects in Super Mario 3D World, most notably the coin counter at the end of the levels. That is sound you’ll never forget even if you haven’t played the original Mario Bros. games in awhile.
The music in Bowser’s Fury is quite different. When you’re out exploring and collecting Cat Shines, there’s a very upbeat melody playing. It’s super catchy, of course. Then when Bowser rises out of the lake, it changes to a metal anthem with choir-like sections. It’s an awesome contrast between each play type even if the regular playtime music doesn’t scream “Mario” to me.
Gameplay + Controls:
I found the controls in Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury a little awkward to get use to at first. The controls are what you’re use to A/B to jump, X/Y to run and attack, joystick/d-pad to move around. But the trouble came in with controlling the cat power up. It just took some trial and error to get the movements right such as climbing up cliffs and jumping. Pro-tip, you don’t have to jump on top of cliffs, just keep climbing and you’ll reach flat ground.
And for some reason you use Y to dash and attack. If you have a power-up and press Y, you’ll first attack then you’ll just continue running. It’s kind of weird. Sometimes you just want to dash to get somewhere faster, but you’ll be forced to attack first.
Super Mario 3D World
I was pleasantly surprised that you don’t have the follow the paths on the map! The worlds are laid out like Super Mario Bros. 3, but you can roam around however you want! There will be surprises off the path like ?-blocks and special levels. I don’t know why I liked this feature so much. It was another nice way to combine to old with the new.
Along with reaching the flagpole at the end of the level within the time time limit, you’ll also need to pick up green power stars in order to unlock later levels. Some are in plain sight, while some are more of a puzzle to get to. There are also optional stamps in each level that fill in a sticker sheet. The collector in me loved this!
There are several Captain Toad levels throughout the game and I absolutely adored these! I ended up being a huge fan of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, so it was really fun for me to see how that game came about. Your heroes will also participate in guantlet style levels as well to earn up to 10 stars.
While I found the levels really fun, if short, I was less impressed with the boss fights. To me, Super Mario 3D World has some of the weakest bosses in any Mario game. And I don’t necessarily mean weak as in easy to defeat (although may of them are), but they’re just not interesting. We get these imaginative levels with all kinds of platforming, puzzle solving, and other game mechanics, then…lackluster bosses.
Even the battles with Bowser weren’t fun. After the first one, I was left underwhelmed and kind of confused. Then he came up again, and I just wasn’t excited. It’s a really weird fight. But the final showdown with King Koopa piqued my interest. That was so freaking cool! But then the “battle” happened and I was like…what? That’s it? The big finale? At least I used Peach to defeat Bowser, it felt appropriate.
The general gameplay is very similar, where it’s mainly platforming with some puzzle elements, but you’re collecting Cat Shines rather than stars. It’s also like one extended boss battle as Bowser rises from the lake every few minutes to wreak havoc and spit fire! For the most part, you just need to avoid him and keep on collecting, but you will have to fight him a few times.
Bowser’s Fury is more similar to other modern Mario games, where you have multiple Cat Shines to collect in one area instead of loading one level, completing it, then selecting another level. Mario is free to move around all of the unlocked islands, collecting Cat Shines in whatever order you want.
You can also adjust the difficulty in a way. Bowser Jr. can follow you around to collect coins and fight enemies. If you want him to. You can set him to help a little, a lot, or not all. I picked a lot, because I need all the help I can get! For the most part, I barely noticed him. He flies around nearby but never got in the way. He’s a nifty little helper. On “a lot” setting, he collected coins, fought enemies, and unveiled invisible ?-blocks.
Since Bowser’s Fury is an open-world, you can travel between the islands with no loadscreen. Even when Boswer emerges from the depths, it’s seamless. Unfortunately, there are loadscreens before the Bowser battles. After Mario collects the gigabell, the screen goes white, we get a loading icon, then it starts the fight. It’s kind of annoying since the game just runs so well otherwise. Did we really need a cinematic transformation for Mario every time? Just transform like normal and get on with the fight!
Unlike Super Mario 3D World, the Bowser battles are fun, challenging, and not annoying. While he does pop up every several minutes, you don’t actually fight him until you collect enough Cat Shines to activate the three Gigabells, triggering three boss fights. You’ll actually have to fight Bowser five times, as in battles two and three, he’ll retreat in the middle, only to pop up again later. The third (fifth?) fight does switch things up quite a bit, and I really enjoyed it!
As with Super Mario Odyssey, most of the game happens after the credits roll. You’ll have 50 more Cat Shines to track down, which will trigger the actual final Bowser fight. During this time, Fury Bowser still rises from the ooze every few minutes but with a twist. You might get the Bowser who sinks back under after a minute, or you might get the Bowser who won’t go back until you grab another Cat Shine (or die). This certainly kept me on my toes as I scrambled around Lake Lapcat for those 50 remaining Cat Shines!
The individual levels in Super Mario 3D World are very replayable. I did visit many of them multiple times to get Green Stars and Stamps that I missed the first time around. I wasn’t going for 100%, just enough (170) to unlock the final Bowser battle. You’re free to play any level and keep collecting after the credits roll, which is always appreciated.
Of the two, Bowser’s Fury is easily the most replayable. It’s much shorter and a lot more fun! I have no intention of replaying it any time soon, since I just 100% completed it. But if I get the urge in the future, that is the one I’d pick.
I enjoyed my short time with Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. They’re not my favorite Mario games (that honor goes to Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Odyssey), but they were unique additions to the series. Super Mario 3D World did leave me underwhelmed with its lackluster boss battles, while Bowser’s Fury was the ultimate boss battle! They’re very different games despite using the same graphics and mechanics. They complement each other well. I just wish Bowser’s Fury had a longer story campaign!