Without getting too deep into it, the Wii U still has something of a divisive legacy. It definitely struggled against its console contemporaries at the time. As a result, it was unceremoniously dumped after a while and room was made for the Switch, which is largely held to be a superior console in every way. There’s nothing wrong with the forward march of time, but it does mean that certain exclusive games got dumped along with it.
No worries, though – along with a constant stream of Switch re-releases of Wii U titles, we’ve now got Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, a re-release of the 2013 Wii U classic with a new bite-sized Bowser bonus slapped on top as well.
3D World is a return to more traditional Mario adventures. A home console sequel to Super Mario 3D Land (on 3DS, of course), it hearkens back to something like the SNES classic Super Mario World, though it owes a fair amount to Super Mario Bros. 3 as well. The world is divided into different areas, each with courses to hop, skip and jump through. The goal in each is to either reach the flagpole at the end of the course or defeat the course’s boss, though modern Mario players know that a course isn’t really complete until it’s been plumbed of its secrets.
You’ve got three stars to find per level, as well as a stamp that was once used for Miiverse back on the Wii U, and unless you’ve got them all (and cleared the course by touching the very top of the flagpole) you can’t consider yourself done.
This makes for plenty of platforming action, especially considering the various characters you can control. Mario’s your all-rounder, but you can also choose from Luigi and his floaty jumps, Toad and his speedy feet and floaty Princess Peach. That last one is, naturally, going to be a favorite for anyone with the NES version of Super Mario Bros. 2, where she was amazing and put all the other characters to shame. No matter who you control, though, you’re bound to have a good time.
By contrast, Bowser’s Fury represents a more modern take on Mario. Bowser’s gone nuts and it’s up to Mario and Bower Jr. to form an unlikely team-up and save the day! Saving the day, unsurprisingly, means running around and collecting stuff, so it’s time to hop to it. The collectible in question here is the Cat Shine, a feline MacGuffin that can be used to activate Giga Bells around the landscape. These bells give Mario the size and power to fight giant Bowser on even ground, making for a hilarious boss battle every now and again where Mario turns huge, puts on a giant lion suit and gets to stomping.
While it’s cute, Bowser’s Fury isn’t especially lengthy and feels a bit more like a tech demo for some sort of upcoming Breath of the Wild-style open-world Mario adventure. Despite being an open-world game, it’s clear that Bowser’s Fury is subdivided into little obstacle courses that end up playing like a standard Mario stage. That’s not exactly a bad thing, but it does suggest that should a more complete Mario game in this style see the light of day, it might not feel altogether different from what we’re used to from the plumber.
Both games place a heavy emphasis on cooperative play. Up to four players can team up in 3D World, while Bowser’s Fury allows another player to control Bowser Jr. and help deal with enemies. It’s a welcome feature and both games are still perfectly playable solo, but more importantly you’re able to set up online multiplayer in 3D World! Crazy, right? It’s not likely you’ll have a great deal of coordination with randoms online, but hey, at least it’s available at all!
The package as a whole looks and sounds fantastic, of course. 3D World ran well on the Wii U and it runs well here. Bowser’s Fury, meanwhile, allegedly struggles a bit more per your Digital Foundry pixel-counting types, but I never noticed any significant technical difficulties. You’re not likely to have too many complaints from a performance point of view, as is par for the course for first-party Nintendo games not named “Hyrule Warriors.”
With the release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, we’re seeing the last vestiges of the Wii U start to fade away. At this point I can think of only one significant game from that console that isn’t available elsewhere – Xenoblade Chronicles X – and it’s likely we’ll see that re-released somewhere down the line. If you missed out on this Mario hop-a-thon back when it was on the Wii U, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. It’s classic, high-quality platforming action…and, hey, Bowser’s Fury isn’t bad either.