Games: Nintendo resurrects Super Mario 3D World for the Switch and throws in neat newbie Bowser's Fury for good measure
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (Switch)
FOR my generation, Mario IS videogames, so it's hard to imagine that the most iconic digital character of all time was relegated to niche status when his once blockbusting platformers released on the largely ignored Wii U.
With 80 million in the wild and counting, however, the Switch is Nintendo's best-selling console, making this re-release of 2013's 3D World a Lazarus-like return for the mushroom-gobbling tradesman, who, with a heap of pals in tow, tackles some of the finest obstacle courses ever committed to binary.
Blending age-old Mario tropes into a finely-tuned experience, 3D World is a highlights reel stitched together with eye-melting visuals – and probably the closest any modern Nintendo game has come to aping the rapid-fire design of its NES heyday.
Every level has its gimmick, and getting to the end is only half the battle. The real challenge comes in ferreting out three hidden stars in each – your cache of which is used to unlock later worlds. One second you're swinging from circus trapezes, the next, kicking soccer balls at Bowser's hot-rod. Toad and Peach are playable characters once more, each with unique moves, while up to four players can tackle the levels at once, adding a competitive sheen.
Mixing the slightly linear mechanics of 3D Land with the freewheeling of Mario Galaxy, the novelties never let up, and while the cat suit may be the most visible addition to Mario's arsenal, it's not the only twist in a game that doles out invention, regularly surprising you with familiar yet subtly shuffled mechanics.
Local and online multi-player is a sweet carnage-filled charge to the finish, though OCD completists will want to explore each candy-coloured crevice. And despite the years, it's still a looker, with jazzy production design bolstered by a big band soundtrack.
It's coming to Switch with a brand-new game in tow: Bowser's Fury is a true 3D take on Nintendo's iconic plumber, who teams up with Bowser Jr to defeat a corrupted, Godzilla-sized version of his old nemesis. Island-hopping its open world to earn Shines, find enough and you'll transform into a massive Cat Mario to confront your gargantuan foe on his own terms.
Wadded with content, Mario 3D World is simply hit after hit, all the while spinning new threads out of old cloth. Even though Mario's entire pantheon has now taken up residence on the Switch, 3D World boils Nintendo's platforming formula down to its purest form – and in Bowser's Fury, provides a glimmer of where the franchise may be heading.