It’s a fact of life: just about every game will eventually be ported to the Switch, you just have to wait a while. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is another example of a Wii U title finally getting the love it deserves on the Nintendo Switch.
Sure, the game got a fair amount of love when it landed on the Wii U way back in 2013, but at this point, the Wii successor is but a faded memory. Maybe it’s because my grey cells are getting weaker in my 30s, but Super Mario 3D World felt quite new to me when I began the Switch port. I played alongside my 12-year-old niece Chloe, who actually beat the original game before I did. It was only natural she would be my player 2 this time around.
While the level designs and music felt new to me, the game controlled as smoothly as usual. There was a bit of a learning curve when it came to playing levels that once utilized the Wii U touchscreen. A triple-A title deserves the fullscreen, after all. Still, it wasn’t unplayable or even clunky.
Playing alone is great, playing together with someone you love is sublime. I can’t think of too many games that offer such a fresh and satisfying multiplayer co-op experience. Co-op is a relative term of course, as the game still allows you to try and score more points than the folks you’re playing with, and in some cases, outright treat them as enemies. That’s not my style, but the option to toss your fellow players into a pit is a welcome one, despite it occasionally being cumbersome when dealing with trickier platforming areas.
I did my best to go into Bowser’s Fury with fresh eyes; not watching any of the many teasers for the expansion pack paid off. What I expected was simply more of the same level-to-level platforming as the main title. What I got was a strange and wonderful open-world experience. It’s as if 3D World and Breath of the Wild had a beautiful baby.
Instead of levels, Mario and his new unlikely ally Bowser Jr. traverse across Lake Lapcat, after Bowser becomes a massive and hideous kaiju-like creature. Mario and pal must collect Cat Shines which can be used to unlock Giga Bells to turn Mario into an equally massive being to square off against Bowser Sr. Every time you hand Bowser’s butt to him, more areas of Lake Lapcat open up, and the cycle restarts.
Of course, occasionally, Bowser’s rampages do unlock new areas as he spits out platforms and brick-breaking assaults of fire. For a simple expansion, Bowser’s Fury offers some multi-layered platforming that actually requires a bit of thinking instead of the usual dashing into the fray. I hope we’re seeing the prototype of a Mario game to come.
The downside is that the expansion is simply not an effective multiplayer title. I saddled my niece Chloe with playing as Bowser Jr., and she was bored after about 15 minutes. I compare the experience to playing as Tails in a Sonic game. Sure, Bowser Jr.’s there, but he’s always going to trail behind Mario. His abilities are cool, but can only be utilized if he’s on the screen. It feels a bit like an afterthought to be honest, despite the rest of the expansion being a fully fleshed-out idea.