Mul­ti­player ma­nia en­ters 3D

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY - By Bryan Vore

MARIO, Luigi, Peach and Toad go for a night stroll on the cas­tle grounds to catch some fire­works. Out of nowhere, a clear pipe busts out of the ground and a small fairy crea­ture pleads for them to res­cue her friends.

Bowser pops out of the pipe, grabs her and leaves with the team in hot pur­suit. Af­ter 25 years as a damsel in dis­tress, Princess Peach fi­nally rejoins the playable cast of a main­line mario ti­tle for the first time since Su­per mario Bros. 2.

This re­fresh­ing change of the for­mula gets things off to a great start and teases Nin­tendo’s will­ing­ness to tweak tra­di­tion through­out the rest of the game.

While the game shines in sin­gle-player, the fun mul­ti­plies with oth­ers. This merges clever and flex­i­ble 3D maps with New Su­per mario Bros. wild four-player game­play. Ev­ery­one fights over their favourite char­ac­ters not just for looks, but also for their unique traits.

Will you go for Luigi’s high jump, Toad’s speed, Peach’s mid-air float, or Mario’s bal­anced skills? As long as a char­ac­ter isn’t al­ready taken, you can eas­ily swap be­fore ev­ery level. Play­ers can jump in and out at prac­ti­cally any time — and use al­most any con­troller setup. It’s as ver­sa­tile a sys­tem as you could ask for.

So many great co-op mem­o­ries abound: Zip­ping around in go-kart sized ice skates, pro­tect­ing your pals from ghosts with head­mounted lights, cling­ing to life to­gether on top of a giant an­gry-faced gem­stone, and rid­ing on the back of a friendly di­nosaur named Plessie.

But work­ing to­gether is only half of the fun. Toss­ing friends off a cliff, scram­bling past them to get power-ups, and do­ing what­ever it takes to get higher on the end-of-stage flag­pole al­ways gets ev­ery­one hol­ler­ing.

Nin­tendo never en­cour­aged or dis­cour­aged this be­hav­iour be­fore, but now play­ers watch their points tally up at the end of each level. The best per­former gets to wear an or­nate crown. It’s a sub­tle-yet­ef­fec­tive sys­tem that keeps you look­ing out for num­ber one even when you’re sup­posed

to be work­ing to­gether.

Su­per suits

The new power-up on the mar­quee is a fuzzy cat suit (favourites like the fire suit, tanooki suit, and boomerang suit re­turn). What could have been a creepy getup turns out to be un­be­liev­ably adorable thanks to spot-on cat an­i­ma­tion. Char­ac­ters trot around on all fours and even do a lit­tle butt wig­gle be­fore they pounce on foes. Each char­ac­ter’s unique “meow” cel­e­bra­tion af­ter beat­ing a level is end­lessly charm­ing.

This up­grade also al­lows Mario and com­pany to scale walls, help­ing them get out of jams and find hid­den paths, and the scratch at­tacks and dive bombs add valu­able of­fen­sive op­tions.

A new dou­ble cherry item al­lows you to con­trol sev­eral du­pli­cates of your char­ac­ter. While it’s a neat gim­mick, it’s not vi­able as a full-time power. Once a copy strays away from the group, it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore it falls into a hole or runs into an en­emy.

New green stars re­place tra­di­tional star coins, pro­vid­ing in­cen­tive to search for se­cret paths. Some min­i­mal road­blocks ap­pear from time to time, but if you’re grab­bing all the low-hang­ing fruit, you won’t be halted in the stan­dard worlds.

Bonus stages abound af­ter you see the cred­its, en­cour­ag­ing you to run back and clean up on stars. It’s sat­is­fy­ing to re­visit lev­els and clear them com­pletely and in turn re­ceive a new clus­ter of lev­els to en­joy. You also un­lock an awe­some, recog­nis­able bonus char­ac­ter with sev­eral unique pow­ers.

Mario may­hem

My only big com­plaint stems from the item grab but­ton be­ing the same as the run but­ton. This leads to play­ers pick­ing up co-op part­ners con­stantly when they don’t in­tend to.

What makes it worse is that there are sev­eral un­used or re­dun­dant but­tons on most of the com­pat­i­ble con­trollers that could have eas­ily taken on this func­tion.

De­spite this an­noy­ance, I loved Bowser’s ego­cen­tric con­cept for the fi­nal world in the main cam­paign, and the last boss bat­tle is plenty en­ter­tain­ing.

Any mario game runs the risk of the fi­nal en­counter be­ing too tra­di­tional or fea­tur­ing a frus­trat­ing gim­mick, but this one brought a smile to ev­ery­one’s faces on my co-op team from be­gin­ning to end.

While it’s not the most dif­fi­cult chal­lenge, it is suit­ably epic and en­ter­tain­ing — an ex­cep­tional fin­isher to an ex­cel­lent en­try in the se­ries. — Game Informer Magazine/ McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

(nin­tendo) Plat­form­inggame forWiiU Price: US$59.99 (rM195) Make a splash: The won­der­ful and var­ied lev­els in Su­per Mari­o3dWorld even in­cludes a fun ride on the back of a friendly di­nosaur named Plessie.

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