With Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury for the Switch, Nintendo is once again giving a great Wii U game a second chance on a more successful platform. But it’s also more than just a straight port. In addition to the main game, this rerelease also includes a separate experience — the titular Bowser’s Fury. It’s essentially a built-in expansion pack with a strong heavy metal vibe to remix the classic gameplay.
For starters, you don’t actually have to play 3D World to access Bowser’s Fury. Both titles are accessible right from the main menu, and you can swap between them at will. Progress in one doesn’t appear to impact the other. Fundamentally, the two games are the same: Bowser’s Fury still plays and controls just like 3D World, which means, yes, you’ll spend lots of time in a cat costume. The Wii U classic is best-known for its inventive level design and for finding a nice balance between the open spaces of 3D Super Mario games and the structure of the original side-scrollers, and that’s largely true of Bowser’s Fury.
The new expansion is more of a bite-sized take on the formula. It’s set in a world made up of a series of islands, though the main goal is the same as ever, with lots of shiny objects to collect to open up new areas. I’ve only played the first section, which is a sort of island paradise overrun with cats; seriously, everything from the bushes to the birds has adorable cat ears. It’s a little disarming how cute everything is.
If you’ve watched the trailers, you’ll know that the big change this year really is big: a kaiju-sized Bowser rampaging across the land. In order to get his attention, you have to collect coins and unlock lighthouses littered across the level. (Evil Bowser, naturally, hates light.) When this happens, Mario will similarly grow to epic proportions for a large-scale tilt. I can’t say much about these massive battles just yet — stay tuned to our full review for more on that next month — but they definitely add a new dynamic to an otherwise familiar experience.
Aside from boss battles, the other thing Bowser adds is unpredictability. Every so often you’ll start to notice a heavy rain, which precipitates an attack: the world will be covered with dark clouds, and Bowser will let out a barrage of fireballs for a short period. What’s interesting about this is that it doesn’t just add challenge but provides a different way to interact with the world. Some puzzles and secret areas are only accessible — or at least are easier to reach — during one of these brief attacks.
From what I’ve played, Bowser’s Fury feels like just the thing for those picking up 3D World for a second time. It’s essentially a remix of a beloved game, adding in a few fresh ideas while retaining the same core. There are still a handful of questions — like how big it actually is and whether those awe-inspiring battles are any fun — but it at least has the basics down. And alongside the likes of Super Mario Odyssey and 3D All-Stars, it’s helping turn the Switch into the ideal Super Mario machine.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury launches on February 12th for the Nintendo Switch.