One of the most anticipated games currently slated to hit the Nintendo 3DS this year is Super Mario and it’s obvious to see why when anyone takes a look at Super Mario‘s track record. Traditionally, the pudgy plumber’s game are instant classics, and when Miyamoto stated that Super Mario 3DS was essentially a combination of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, there was certainly a reason to get excited.

After playing the game at E3, does it live up to the hype and that description? Not quite.

Super Mario 3DS doesn’t feel like what we expected of it, and instead is more comparable to Super Mario Bros 3 rather than 64 or Galaxy. It’s an entirely new take on the series, and this is largely due to the traditional platforming elements that the series made a name for itself — with an added dose of 3D. The end result is a linear level layout where Mario isn’t trying to gather several different stars or shines, but instead is trying to jump and mount the well-known flagpole at the end of each level. The new formula certainly works well as a platforming hybrid of sorts, and it adds an entirely new feel that has yet to be experienced in any Super Mario game before it.

The platforming certainly does feel very different, but there is something off about the new controls. It’s almost too easy to misread jumps and more often than not, players will find themselves overshooting or undershooting gaps that would usually be no problem to get across. The 3D is almost essential in order to read how far players should make Mario jump, but even then individuals will still be seeing the “Game Over” screen more often then they should. Super Mario 3DS is fun and quite a bit different from its predecessors, but from our limited time with the game, the control scheme is the game’s major obstacle.

Super Mario 3DS gameplay

Super Mario 3DS offers different look and feel, and a large part of this is due to the new camera placement which makes 3D an essential part of the game. The camera is actually situated halfway between the 2D and 3D view sets. Imagine taking the 2D game view of a traditional Mario platformer and shifting the camera sideways, allowing players to move from left to right as well as side to side. The camera will adjust in certain areas to be more like one of Mario’s adventure games, and it will also change to the 2D look depending on what obstacles he is facing.

While the game does so much to feel new, there are a few familiarities that fans of the series are sure to enjoy. The ‘Raccoon Suit’ makes its triumphant return, but it’s a little bit different then many probably remember. When Mario grabs the trademark raccoon leaf he now dons the Tanooki suit, instead of the traditional racoon ears and tail. The new suit still permits Mario to destroy blocks and enemies by spinning around and smacking them with his tail, but the ability to fly around has been removed — instead he can only hover briefly in the air.

All of the levels in Super Mario 3DS look and feel similar to past Mario games, and the heavy resemblance to Super Mario Bros 3 becomes very apparent during all four of the levels that were playable on the show floor at E3 2011. There is even a Battleship level that features Bullet Bills, angry wrench-throwing Moles, and the long-forgotten boss character, Boom Boom. The inclusion of all those familiar faces is very much appreciated and the fact that the whole experience feels so new while simultaneously hitting a nostalgic cord with those old enough to remember the classic is an impressive feat in and of itself.

Super Mario 3DS 3d Gameplay

Super Mario 3DS may have a few control-related bugs to work out, but the game looks great and the new take on the classic series is much appreciated. Overall, fans of the series are sure to love it to pieces, and it should also boost sales of the Nintendo 3DS quite a bit. We still don’t know whether or not there will be a multiplayer option, or if Yoshi will be making his return, but Nintendo should reveal more information on the new game within the next few months.

Super Mario for the Nintendo 3DS is currently scheduled to release in time for the Holidays this year.

Follow me on Twitter @GnarleySquid if you want to talk about the new Super Mario, or just gaming in general.

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