The Sprixie Kingdom has gotten a tad catty as the realm has been hit with a double whammy of feline proportions. Originally launching eight years ago in 2013 for the Nintendo Wii U, this Super Mario 3D Land sequel (kind of) swipes its way onto Nintendo Switch, this time with an extra standalone adventure in Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.

Will you rescue the Sprixie Princesses or try to cool the fury of Bowser’s rage first? Take your pick, ready your claws, and check out our review of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury after the break!

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Nintendo Switch
Developed by Nintendo
Published by Nintendo
Released: 12th February 2021

Digital review copy provided by Nintendo UK

Let’s start with some familiar ground in Super Mario 3D World. The Sprixie Kingdom has been sent into disarray as Bowser has decided royalty, why stop with one princess when you can steal six, right? Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach give chase the persistent cretin through a network of clear pipes only to arrive in the first world of their adventure.

3D World plays very similarly to its predecessor, Super Mario 3D Land. Both titles essentially take the traditional Super Mario Bros. gameplay (more-so the ‘New’ series) and brings it to the 3D World… funny that, eh. In typical Super Mario Bros. fashion, you’re tasked with reaching the flagpole of each level in a designated amount of time, going from world to world until you eventually defeat Bowser and bring peace back to the Kingdom. 3D World introduced a couple new features into the series. One of these new additions included the Super Bell powerup. Picking this up would transform your character into a cat version of themselves, granting you the ability to claw swipe your enemies and even climb up walls. 3D World also introduced the Double Cherry, picking up this sucker would provide you with the gift of a doppelganger.

Another addition brought into the series was mostly-cooperative multiplayer. What’s that you say? Coop was actually introduced in New Super Mario Bros. Wii back in 2009? That may be true, but this is the first time we have seen cooperative multiplayer in a 3D Mario title that’s a little more involved than waggling the remote around to shoot enemies with Star Bits. Each player can choose between Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Princess Peach to help each other out… or just throw poor ol’ Toad into the abyss. In addition to this, each character controls slightly differently. Mario is an all-rounder, perfect for any level of skill, Luigi can jump the highest but can slip and slide easier with his lanky legs, Toad runs the fastest but also takes the longest to sprint, and Peach can float in mind-air but that dress makes her a bit sluggish.

One thing I loved about Super Mario 3D World is just the creativity involved with a lot of the levels. I especially love the level that feels as if you are dashing around a cut track from Super Mario Kart, it even uses a song from the SNES title too, showing a testament to Mario’s history. Some of the levels can be pretty easy, but others can pose a fair challenge. No matter which level you tackle next, you can be assured that it has quality design. If you want a little more challenge though, why not try collecting each of the level’s three green stars. Each one is hidden in mysterious areas, and who knows, something good may happen if you collect enough of ’em!

The game’s jump to the Nintendo Switch doesn’t come without a few improvements. The game both runs and looks even better than it did on Wii U making it a completely smooth experience. The Switch version also adds online functionality to it’s multiplayer, perfect for if you want to save Sprixie Kingdom with a buddy from afar. I was able to try this out for a while and, for the most part, it ran really well with very few blips of lag, though I feel this is mostly due to the fact I was connected to the wrong access point on my end (there’s one literally three feet away from my console yet it decides to connect to the one through two thick walls instead… typical!) Hopefully, the online functionality still runs smoothly once the game launches on Friday, unlike a certain individual… Yes, we’re looking at you Super Mario Maker 2!

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury also sees the return of Snapshot Mode from Super Mario Odyssey. Pressing down on the DPad will freeze the action, allowing you to take some snazzy pics of your scene. Here you can move, rotate, and zoom the camera, apply filters, and even apply stamps to the environment. Each level hides one stamp for you to find. In the original Wii U version, you could use these stamps on screenshots posted to Miiverse, as the service no longer exists (RIP) you can use them in snapshot mode instead with a cursor. One thing that got a bit annoying is how there is no way to turn off the cursor once you are happy to take a screenshot, instead, it’ll disappear when it wants to (probably once your JoyCon remains idle for a period of time). You’ll need to be careful here as, if you aren’t, you may have a hidden cursor on your next Christmas card!

Minor inconvenience aside, Super Mario 3D World is still just as good as it was eight years ago, maybe even better with its included online multiplayer and quality of life improvements. While we’re here, let’s take a gander at Lake Lapcat, I’ve heard it’s rather relaxing this time of year…

How odd, why is it so cloudy, and what’s with that gigantic, ominous shadow in the background? Oh dear, it seems Bowser may have gone a bit too far this time and gotten himself, body and mind, transformed into a hulking and furious beast; looks like Lake Lapcat is yet another kingdom for Mario to save. Upon obtaining your first Cat Shine of the game (think Shine Sprites but cuter), you’re approached by Bowser Jr. who explains how Bowser succumbed to a goopy corruption through a series of ‘unique’ paintings. After some convincing, Mario agrees to help Bowser Jr. return his father to his original, less menacing self.

Bowser’s Fury plays fairly differently to 3D World. The best way to describe it is a combination of 3D World, Galaxy, and Odyssey. Lake Lapcat consists of various different islands that you can freely explore between and this works so well, especially a little later in the adventure. The entire realm almost feels like it could be its own Kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. Each of the main islands within the archipelago acts as its own 3D World-esque level, but instead of reaching a flagpole, you’ll have to complete an objective to receive your reward; a Cat Shine. Each one you collect is sent to that island’s lighthouse; some say they have the power to temporarily drive off Fury Bowser.

After lighting up the lighthouse, it will get covered in goop again once you leave the island, signifying that another Cat Shine is in hiding. Each of the main islands have five Shines to collect, reentering will reset the level to a slightly different state depending on what the next objective is, very similar to Super Mario Galaxy. Not too much changes other than enemy placement and maybe an extra gizmo or two. Personally, I would’ve preferred it if you could take on these objectives in any order and if you didn’t have to leave the island to reset it, though I believe that the flow the game goes at probably works better mechanically.

You won’t want to dawdle for too long as, every five minutes or so, Fury Bowser will rise from the watery depths to turn up the heat, figuratively and literally. During this period, day turns to dusk in an ominous barrage of fireballs as Fury Bowser tries to flambé you like the top of a Créme Brúle! The environment will also change slightly with new platforms. Don’t worry though, he’ll only stick around until you grab another Cat Shine or when he gets bored of the fury… whichever comes first. One thing I wanted to say is how I loved the way the JoyCon vibration dimmed down as Fury Bowser fled in handheld mode. It’s worth noting that there were a couple times where Fury Bowser appearing would come as a bit of an annoyance, breaking the flow of my progress, so it would’ve been nice if there were ways to extend the period of time he doesn’t appear, perhaps by paying a couple of stored powerups.

If you need a little extra help, Bowser Jr. will automatically try to attack enemies and collect coins during your adventure. If you only want him to help a little, or not at all, you can make that happen from the settings menu whenever you want. In addition to this, if you share your JoyCon with a second player, your friend can control Bowser Jr. too. It works in a very similar fashion to the coop assist mode in Super Mario Odyssey. Try using Jr’s iconic brush on anything that looks a bit weird… who knows what will happen!

After collecting a tidy sum of Cat Shines you will be granted the power of the Giga Bell. This oversized Super Bell transforms you into an oversized kitten with the Paws of Fury… whoops, wrong game. Once you’ve been able to claw at Bowser long enough in this form, a new sector of Lake Lapcat is washed from its goopy covering, letting you set paw on even more islands, and who better to take you from Island to Island other than our good old friend, Plessie. It’s so nice that our buddy from the Loch plays a more significant role other than being in only a level or two.

All the powerups from 3D World return, and this time you can store five of each to save for a rainy day. Pressing up on the DPad will open up your storage so you can power up at any time as long as you have it stashed away. This definitely comes in handy if I’m on my last bit of health and need a little booster in the face of adversity. In addition to this, you also receive a random powerup whenever you collect 100 coins, so you better get saving!

I know I’ve made similar observations a little earlier, but I love how the islands seem to show a perfect mix of 3D World and Galaxy styled levels, I just wish that there were a few more to travel to, adding a little more variety to the mix. Some of the Shines can be particularly challenging to obtain, though I did find a couple a little tedious and wish there were a little more variety there too. Regardless of these small qualms, the level design is brilliant and perfect for these self-contained levels.

One aspect of Lake Lapcat I particularly adore is how just about everything is inspired by cats, from the enemies to the environment itself. Even though I am not much of a cat person, when you make a super cute pigeon even cuter by adding adorable little kitty ears, it’s really difficult to say no! Can we also take a moment to appreciate the name of the first island of Bowser’s Fury… Fur Step Island. The music is also an absolute joy to listen too.

…or is it a seagull?

Between all the Wii U ports on offer for Nintendo Switch, Super Mario 3DWorld + Bowser’s Fury is probably my favourite of the litter so far. Not only is the base game a delight to play with an added online multiplayer option and quality of life changes, but this comes packed with a new expansion that’s full of fun and charm; it’s almost as if there’s half an extra game in there. Whether you’re a newcomer or returning from the Wii U, I would definitely recommend the pawsome Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.

Final rating – 5 out of 5

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch on the 12th February 2021!

Leon Fletcher

I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!