Super Mario 3D World has capped off a Wii U line-up that should be seriously considered for Christmas by families, says Patrick Garratt.
Little appeals to my kids better than Mario. It’s one of their favourite things. Any parent will tell you that certain objects and concepts gel with a child’s desires so perfectly they have to power to dominate their every thought. Mario is one of them.
These are the things my children like so much I have to limit because if I didn’t they wouldn’t do anything else:
- TV in general
Sweets win. Just. Rayman Legends came a close second to Mario (they wouldn’t shut up about it for weeks), but Nintendo’s mustachioed mascot is the most popular game in our house, hands down. Super Mario 3D World means I now have to say “no” at least twice a day. They’re allowed to watch me play it on Tuesday evening (kids in France don’t go to school on Wednesday) and after tea at the weekend. They know this. They ask anyway.
Everything about Mario is already monumentally appealing to children – the styling, the sounds, the fireworks – but Super Mario 3D World takes it to the next level. There’s the cat suit, for a start. Yellow furry Mario pawing his way up a wall to get a green star screams “love me” to a child’s mind so loudly it’s in danger of causing mental deafness. My three did proper emoticon shocked faces the first time they saw it.
Then there’s the ability to use Peach. Meredith, my little girl, is enraptured. She’s seven, and she’s becoming more discerning. She watched a bunch of New Super Mario Bros. U, but once we’d completed the main levels she lost interest. My four year-old boys’ appetite for it is insatiable, to the point that I’m still going through the levels for the three large coins to unlock all the Star World stuff. Meredith couldn’t be bothered. I realised why when we played Rayman Legends: it’s full of playable female characters, and New Super Mario Bros. U has none. Super Mario 3D World not only has Peach, but it has cat and tanooki Peach, which makes Meredith giggle because they float. It’s pretty cute.
Nintendo has been focused on the family game for many years now, but I don’t think I’ve played a better example of the intention than this. It even works for me. I’m a 40 year-old man and I play video games. If a game’s too simplistic I can’t play it. If it’s too complex, the kids can’t be bothered. Then there’s Fiona, my wife. She can appreciate games, but she has a slight appetite for them. The way to her heart, apparently, was Peach in a cat suit.
So there we all were, on a Sunday evening with the kids on beanbags in their pyjamas, me playing the game and Fiona drinking a cup of coffee and squealing along with the rest of them, all of us sitting together having a great time. The game’s challenging (“Why did you die, daddy?”) so I enjoy playing, but there’s something else in it for everyone. Think about it: how many games, or even systems that play games, are capable of being simultaneously appealing to people from four to 40 years old, from non-gamers to core gamers, men, girls, boys and women?
Exactly. Families would do well to consider a Wii U for Christmas, especially if they include young children. You can get one bundled with a game for around £200 if you look in the right place. Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros. U, New Super Luigi U, Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3 and LEGO City: Undercover will keep you all happy for countless hours. These games delight children. Next-gen is next-gen, but it’s expensive and there’s little in there to appeal to under-18s. Don’t discount Nintendo’s power to create software which pull families together. Super Mario 3D World is just the latest example, and I doubt my family’s going to be stopping playing it anytime soon.
Disclosure: This article was based on a copy of Super Mario 3D World supplied by Nintendo. Playing it and getting stuck? Help yourself out with our massive play guide.