It’s *really* pretty.

So… I bought a 3DS. XL.

I didn’t really mean to, but I’d recently made the decision to get one at some point in the future, and then I had a long, exhausting day. And realized I hadn’t bought a new toy since my tablet over a year ago.  And I’m gonna get it anyway, right?

I’m also kinda against the idea of making portable gaming big.  I mean, pocket-sized has always been the way to go.  Original GameBoy excluded, but it was back in the 90’s and people had baggy pockets.  So I’ve scoffed at the Vita, and waited for the slimmed-down redesigns of all my other portable devices.  The idea of picking up an extra-large portable gaming device just doesn’t do it for me, but I’ve basically decided that I have to get one at some point, because games.  Not many games, not yet, but you know it’s going to have it’s gems.  And this is, technically, the slimmed-down redesign, even if it is in extra-large size.

So yea, picked one up, and frankly it’s gorgeous.  Ed’s sister has an original-flavour 3DS, and it’s okay, but it just feels like a DS Lite/DSi.  The 3D screen is pretty awesome, but it doesn’t really do it for me.  But this XL shit is slick.  The bigger screens totally make the 3D worthwhile, it’s the design is all tapered and pretty.  It’s a nice piece of hardware, a bit of the heavy side, but now I can tell people I’m working out and playing video games at the same time!  I didn’t actually buy any games for it, I’m just going to borrow for a while.


I’ve started with Super Mario 3D Land, ’cause why not?  I’ve never met a Mario game I haven’t liked, and that includes Mario Sunshine.  It’s just platforming done right.  This one’s a weird combination of styles, but I’m really enjoying it so far.  It’s open and 3D, more akin to Mario Galaxy or Mario 64 than the 2D New Super Mario, but is much more straightforward and uses guided level designs instead of the open world that other 3D Mario games employ.  It feels a little like playing a 2D Mario game in 3D (in 3D)!

Also, it hearkens back to Super Mario Bros 3.  A lot.  The clincher of the game is the return of the Tanooki Suit and the Leaf power-up.  Previous games have given us back Fire Flowers and Mushrooms, even Yoshi, but this is the first time any of the flying power-ups have made a comeback.  You can’t actually fly with them, mind you, but it significantly slows your descent while jumping and lets you swing your tail in a 360-degree attack.  The 3D aspect seems a bit gimmicky at times but other times it really helps to judge distance and position, so I’m playing with it cranked all the way up.  Music and aesthetics from Mario 3 make various returns as well, everything from level themes to Note Blocks.

As far as the story goes, it’s a Mario game. Bowser’s kidnapped Peach, and he’s stolen all the power-up leafs from the Tanooki tree as well.  He’s using them to power up his armies, and we can’t have that.  Mario jumps into action!


It’s seriously pulling nostalgia-cred.

The first few levels serve more as a tutorial, being extremely easy to navigate and beat, but they really help to get the game’s intention across.  This will be a three-dimensional world, but will remain a guided experience a la the 2D Mario games.  The Tanooki suit is fun to play around with, though, and the Fire Flower returns too, so add a couple heaping scoops of nostalgia on, and we’ve got a pretty awesome Mario game.  Also, Star Coins from New Super Mario Bros make a return, adding a touch of the old collect-a-thon nostalgia, and a bit of a challenge for the completionists.  I’m gonna try and get them, but not going out of my mind to find them.

It’s weird how Mario games can do the same stuff over and over, but it still feels fresh and different.  I guess that’s the joy of platformers, you can reuse the same sprites over and over again, but as long as you do something different, it’s a whole new level.  While the first level echoes bits of Mario 3 and Mario 64, the second level takes you below ground in a nod to Mario 1.  Back in a grey-blue block area, with the underworld theme playing, and it’s kind of awesome.

3D Land keeps a few more things from New Super Mario Bros, and conversely from Mario 3, like Mushroom Houses and bonus levels along the world map.  Level 1-4 is only unlockable if you have the requisite amount of Star Coins from previous levels, which provides a nice incentive for collecting as many as possible.  The castle at the end of the world is straight out of Mario 64 (Bowser in the Fire Sea), and we thrash lizard-butt Bowser in the most old-school way possible: by avoiding his jumps and hitting a switch at the end that takes out the bridge he’s standing on.  I want to replay every Mario game now.  Thanks, Nintendo.


There’s even a toad on the other side of this bridge.

Updates might be a little sparse on this one, since being a portable platformer lends itself well to running a level while waiting for something else, but I’ll do my best to stay on top of it.