With Nintendo making moves to bring pretty much every one of their first party Wii U releases over to the vastly more popular Switch, it was only a matter of time before Mario 3D World joined that list. This was—and is—one of the most fun Mario games in the series. Not only was it super fun having four player co-op like in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and U, but instead of being limited to side-scrolling the gameplay was brought into full 3D platforming action. Even better: each of the playable characters has a unique set of abilities that makes for a unique experience depending on which one is selected. I had fully completed the game on its original Wii U release, but it was just as much fun to play again on the Switch, re-experiencing the fun new power-ups like the super cat bell and the awesome level design that represents Nintendo at some of its best, especially in the post-game special world.
What makes this re-release really stand out, though, is the all-new short game included, Bowser’s Fury. Before trying it out myself, I read many reactions online saying that this felt like the future direction Mario games could go and when I did finally give it a go, I could see why people were saying that. Picture Mario Odyssey, but where all the levels seamlessly connect as one. Players progress from one island to the next, tackling challenges to earn Cat Shines (think Power Stars/Moons and Shine Sprites from past titles). As the accessible area continues to expand, however, it’s very easy to journey back to earlier locales to continue searching for secrets. What I didn’t like were the constant interruptions of having to fight off kaiju Bowser emerging from the sludge. Obviously that mechanic played into the story of this particular game, but it got too repetitive too fast for me.
Bowser’s Fury essentially plays like the trial run of an open-world Mario adventure that totally succeeds and left me hungry for more. I couldn’t help but imagine each island being expanded out into a fully formed world, flushed with characters to encounter and mysteries to uncover. With Nintendo leaning more into open-world development with upcoming adventures like Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and the sequel to Breath of the Wild, it’s easy to see Mario going in this direction, too. Rumor has it Odyssey 2 is in development, so perhaps this is what we’ll see in that release. In the meantime, getting access to Bowser’s Fury on top of the already excellent Mario 3D World makes for a highly recommended addition to any Switch owner’s library.