Eight months after the 3DS' North American debut, Mario at last debuts on the handheld in Super Mario 3D Land. Nintendo is keen for a big hit to energize interest in the device, and they've put their best plumber on the job. Should you hire his services too?
Owen Good, the Sports Guy Who Went Through a Warp Pipe and Ended Up in World 4-2: For starters, this is a fun game. That's what this is supposed to be, and Super Mario 3D Land answers the demand the way Nintendo always does, with charm, variety, and a toymaker's ingenuity that gives us things like gyrometer operated binoculars. It also makes the best use of the 3DS's three-dimensional capabilities I've seen yet. The 3DS is at its most mesmerizing when you feel like you're looking through a glass-bottomed boat into another landscape, and that is what 3D Land feels like to me. The perspective changes are a real delight, switching from a diagonal camera, to straight overhead, to side-scrolling, and serve their environments well. It's an extremely good looking game. Whether this is cause enough to buy a 3DS is another question we're not answering here. Those who have one should definitely pick it up because hey, it's-a he, Mario. Yes.
World 5-2 is cool, 5-5 ia gem. 2-3 is winner. So is 3-1 and the one that is partially a giant piano. Also: the airship levels and so many more. The levels are short enough to play through between bus stops or commercial breaks and the whole package is more fun than most 99 cent portable games I've ever encountered. Enemies of fun—or people who wouldn't spend the price of an above-average dinner on a handheld game—would hate Super Mario 3D Land. I'm not one of them. Bonus: it's not as simplistic (dare I say "dull"?) in level design as New Super Mario Bros. DS. Should you buy it? Yes.
Is it worth buying a 3DS for, though? Hard to say—especially not for a Gut Check. Thankfully, that's not what my gut is being asked to divine, so I'm off the hook on that one. Yes.