Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury Review

Nintendo went the extra mile with Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. With a few notable exceptions, many of the Wii U games that have made the jump to Nintendo Switch have undergone few changes. Although this is fine for newcomers to a particular game, Wii U loyalists like myself have no real need to dive back in. However, the addition of Bowser’s Fury resolves this issue by adding even more content to an already fantastic game.

3D World Toad Speed Nintendo Switch review Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury review

3D World is better than ever before

Super Mario 3D World on Switch is easily the definitive version of the game. One of the biggest complaints about the original Wii U version regarded character movement speed; for a platformer, it felt sluggish at times. For example Toad, the speedy character, didn’t really embody the idea of being the quickest, but the Switch version has Thanos snapped this issue out of existence. It is now satisfying to move throughout the game’s distinct courses, running and jumping to your heart’s content. Toad now runs insanely fast, making him a solid choice for speedrunning the game. Gyroscopic controls with the Joy-Con can also factor into play.

Super Mario 3D World co-op play for upward of four players is still as hectic as it was before, now with online functionality. For the most part, online play works really well. One of my friends and I completed the first two worlds using this feature, and we rarely ran into any issues. In comparison to local play, the experience is obviously going to rely on a solid internet connection from all parties involved. However, if you want to play online with your friends, it’s a viable option. The Nintendo Switch version also allows you to do local wireless play, so there are more options to get together with friends. Even the Captain Toad levels offer co-op now!

3D World Multiplayer Nintendo Switch review Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury review

In the Wii U version, collectable stamps unlocked the ability to post unique drawings in Nintendo’s Miiverse. This is no longer a possibility, as Miiverse shut down in late 2017. However, stamps have been repurposed and are now usable in the all-new photo mode, which arrives with all the quality we have come to expect from Nintendo. Snapshot Mode in Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is similar to the photo mode in Super Mario Odyssey, with various filters to choose from. Collecting the stamps will allow you to post cute images on your scenes, such as Cat Mario.

3D World Photo Mode Nintendo Switch review Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury review

Bowser’s Fury is a fantastic second adventure

The main event for veteran players is of course the all-new Bowser’s Fury portion of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Bowser’s Fury boasts an open world, similar in scope to one of Super Mario Odyssey‘s many explorable kingdoms. The plumber finds himself in Lake Lapcat in an attempt to stop a mutated “Fury Bowser” from destroying everything. Mario is joined by Bowser Jr. as they journey across various islands to collect Cat Shines, which progressively weaken Bowser. Just like many Mario games before it, the premise is nothing to write home about. However, the interactions between Mario and Bowser Jr. are a lot of fun. Fury Bowser is also an interesting villain, as there is a lot more going on compared to previous encounters with Mario’s iconic nemesis. Bowser’s Fury lasts around four to six hours — or potentially much longer to complete everything.

Fire Mario Nintendo Switch review Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury review

Throughout the Bowser’s Fury adventure, Mario will need to complete a variety of challenges to collect the previously mentioned Cat Shines. Each area of Lake Lapcat generally has five of these to collect, with a lighthouse tracking your progress. For the most part, Cat Shine goals are the same for each location you explore. Mario will have to platform his way to the top of a lighthouse for one and collect Cat Shards for another. This does start to become repetitive after a while, as it feels like you’re doing the same thing. However, there are more unique challenges isolated from the main areas, some of them using Plessie, a dinosaur that is also featured in Super Mario 3D World.

Cat Shine Shards Bowser's Fury

Bowser Jr. and motion controls

Bowser’s Fury allows you to play with two-player co-op. Although 3D World is best played with another person, the same cannot be said for Bowser’s Fury. The co-op functions can be compared to those in Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario Odyssey, with the second player taking on more of a support role. Player 2 plays as Bowser Jr. but doesn’t really have any direct control over the action. They’ll be collecting items for Mario to use and occasionally whacking an enemy or two.

Mario is the star of the show, so the camera will be directly following him. This means that if player 1 moves out of Bowser Jr.’s field of view, the youngling will be teleported back to Mario’s position. If you have a family member that wants to play but isn’t experienced, this is still a worthwhile option though. Bowser Jr. takes advantage of Nintendo Switch’s gyroscopic controls.

During solo play, Mario can send Bowser Jr. to investigate various question marks on walls scattered throughout the world. The plumber can also command his unlikely ally to attack enemies, pick up items, and much more. All of this is done by pressing the R button and moving the controller in accordance to the location required. If you want Bowser Jr. to rarely help Mario, you can toggle it in the various settings.

Mario vs. Bowser

The freshest gameplay mechanic in Bowser’s Fury is Mario and Bowser Jr.’s confrontations with the massive Fury Bowser. These moments are action-packed, as Mario needs to focus on multiple things at once. You could be in the middle of jumping your way up to a Cat Shine when Fury Bowser decides to show up. My only complaint with these sections is that the frame rate tends to drop quite frequently. This is especially noticeable when playing in handheld mode, as the performance in general is slightly worse than in docked mode. It becomes frustrating when you’re platforming across difficult terrain, particularly the area covered in lava.

After collecting enough Cat Shines, Mario is able to transform into Giga Cat Mario using the Giga Bell. The plumber basically goes Super Saiyan, allowing him to go head to head with Bowser. These fights are quite repetitive, sometimes ending too soon and feeling more like a chore. However, the final boss makes up for this, with an engaging encounter that ties a nice little bow around the adventure.

Bowser's Fury Health Bar

Final thoughts

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is an excellent package, providing two engaging adventures with tons of content spread across them both. The improvements in Super Mario 3D World transform it into easily the best version of the game. Bowser’s Fury is likewise fantastic, offering yet another open-world Mario adventure (albeit on a smaller scale) with interesting ideas and fun gameplay. If you’re new to Super Mario 3D World, then this is the perfect time to dive in. However, if you’re like me and have played 3D World to death, then there’s also something in here for you as well.

Release Date: Feb. 12, 2021
No. of Players: 1-4 players
Category: Platformer, Action
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo

A review code was provided by the publisher.

Our review policy.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

9.5

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury offers two equally fantastic modes with different styles of gameplay. There is a ton of content spread out across both games, providing you with hours' worth of playtime for solo or co-op play.

Pros
  • Super Mario 3D World is still one of the best linear Mario games
  • Improvements to movement speed in 3D World
  • Bowser's Fury is a fantastic second mode
  • Tons of content spread across both adventures
  • Snapshot Mode is fun to use
  • Fun and hectic multiplayer in 3D World
Cons
  • Occasional frame rate drops in Bowser's Fury, especially in handheld mode
  • Bowser Jr. is more another support option than a full-fledged second character for Bowser's Fury co-op
Jaimie Ditchfield
Freelance Writer. Work seen on Zelda Universe and BackToTheGaming. Studied Games Journalism and PR for three years, and is relentless at spreading his love for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. The chances are you'll also hear him scream Persona.

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