Super Mario 3D World’s Multiplayer Is A Step In The Right Direction

By Ethan . November 15, 2013 . 1:36pm

One of the most advertised features of Super Mario 3D World is the cooperative gameplay calling back to Super Mario Bros. 2.  Obvious content differences aside, this is also the feature that most differentiates Mario 3D World from Mario 3D Land.  I was excited to take this new mode for a spin and it’s my pleasure to report that it’s okay.


That’s better than it sounds, though. The thing is, I’ve personally never been a huge fan of Super Mario platforming multiplayer.


I’ve always felt that to play a Mario platformer is to have a dialogue with the men and women who created the levels. At times, these faceless Nintendo employees are playful, and other times cruel. Mario levels tease the player with secrets, challenge them to better master the game’s mechanics, and ultimately lead them to success. This interplay between designer and player is what has made so many Super Mario games timeless. That dialogue has never translated very well to multiplayer experiences, however.


The silly dancing flower you notice; wasting your time running around the same tree again and again because you’re SURE you saw a secret there; finding yourself laughing in delight as even as you fall off the edge of the world just because that next platform surprised you… those are not the experiences of a multiplayer game. To put another player into the game with you (let alone two or three) creates a fundamentally different dynamic.


I feel like bouncing around and off of other humans makes the game more about playing with the people in the room and less about interacting with those delightful designers at Nintendo. At times, the chaos in a New Super Mario Bros. game can cause me to lose track of my character entirely, and when that’s happening there’s no chance at all of appreciating those unnecessary but amazing little details Mario games all seem to have.


Mario Galaxy didn’t want to deal with the issue at all, they left player two as an empowered cursor on the screen. By comparison, Super Mario 3D World lets every player play the full game and yet, confusion is uncommon. It’s a clear step forward.


So, how does this game achieve these better results?  First of all, having four distinct characters makes a huge difference huge.  Players quickly develop favorites and different characters are subtly more suited to different skill levels. I’ve always been a Luigi guy in the past but I’ve found myself drawn to Toad playing this game. Yes, this is partially because cat suit Toad is adorable, but I also really enjoy his snappy speed once he gets going. Meanwhile, when playing with someone who hasn’t played a Mario game since Sunshine, it was great to have no nonsense Mario available. And when playing with a youngster, Peach’s floating jumps were critical. (Although, appearances may have influenced this choice too… I have a hunch she just wanted to be a princess).


Another big improvement is in how the levels are designed.  Super Mario 3D Land didn’t have nearly as many alternate paths as are found here, and the camera does a remarkably good job of tracking players whichever course they may pursue. These split paths start right away in world 1-1 and they do a lot to give multiple characters space to move unimpeded. A lot of these paths are gated by certain power up requirements, and you can store backups either to get to blocked spots or just to help keep your partners up and in the game.


Given that the characters are wonderfully distinct and the stages give multiplayer room to breathe, why am I only saying my experience was “okay”? Unfortunately, multiplayer makes it an awful lot harder to hunt for secrets. Those precious hidden goodies only reveal themselves to the thorough and observant… which is a whole lot harder to manage when the camera is zooming in and out to accommodate another player or three who you need to keep up with. My single player secret collection rate is about double what groups of two, three, or even four have been able to achieve.


I’m also not a fan of how the game assigns a crown to the top point earner at the end of a level. It’s been my experience that the most experienced Mario player always gets crowned (don’t’ worry, it was me—you are getting the playtest of an expert!) and the scoring screen quickly becomes an awkward divide between the adept and those just jumping in for a few levels of fun. Mario has never much been a score attack game anyway, so why make such a big deal out of it now? Or maybe I’ve just played way too much Mario?  I feel like these are the sorts of questions the end of level screen wasn’t intended to leave me asking.


This has just been my takeaway from the multiplayer mode, though, and it’s worth remembering that it takes two to enjoy a multiplayer mode. Those who have played Super Mario 3D World with me have all had a blast and, without exception, have wanted to play again.  Controller rotation when more than four players are present is fierce, too, in my experiences.


So, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just too set in my ways. Too fixated on the methodical level-scouring I’ve enjoyed in Mario games for so long.  That said, while multiplayer still isn’t what I come to Mario for, it’s been improved since the days of New Super Mario Bros. and it’s an awful lot of fun for an awful lot of people.


Look forward to more Super Mario 3D World coverage on Siliconera soon.

Read more stories about & & on Siliconera.

  • Great article. So true, about having a dialogue with the level designers. Well, let’s hope your “okay” translates to an “okay” for me, too, or maybe even a “good”! The NSMB games in multiplayer made me feel homicidal toward family members as they jumped on my head over and over and then shouted at me for not going fast enough. :)

    • And I think the crown thing is kind of an odd inclusion, too, a very unnecessary thing that is going to make people feel crappy over and over. (I want to play with my fiancee, but she always complains that I’m an expert at 2D Mario and that she isn’t as good as me. This will just reinforce that kind of thing, which is not how you get people to play with you!)

  • Magnumsally

    I want this game bad

  • 『ED−X』゜〜★* 平和 

    Though The Option of playing with others World Wide is Appreciated, theres nothing that can capture that Homeful Togetherness when playing side by side with each other appreciating the true feeling Multiplayer.

    • ShadowDivz

      Oh my god, someone gets it!

    • Ferrick

      unless if its mario party~

    • Chris Evan Jonance Ingeniero

      That is the main point of nintendo~ unlike the other consoles~ nintendo games are built for players to be inside the same room playing

  • Kaetsu

    I can’t wait to play this with my friends since we played through NSMBW and NSMBU!

  • I’m going to be playing the majority of the game as Princess Peach. When I was a kid, I only played as her in Super Mario Bros. 2. I’ve always loved her floating ability. I’m not a girl either, but I like playing as female characters.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    will be the first game I get when I get a wii-u

  • LBattle0819

    I call Toad

  • Heisst

    The addition of player-specific score gives players a reason to actually play and not stay in a bubble the whole stage.

    • AkuLord3

      Stay in a bubble or run around having fun…TOUGH CHOICE

      • Heisst

        You’ve never met those kind of people that instead of wanting to waste lives they just stay on a bubble the whole level as someone else beats it?

        • 324234

          But it’s not like you could game over in a traditional sense, you’re simply dead for the rest of the level you ran out of lives and then given 3 more lives afterwards. Staying in the bubble is like an artificial game over..

          • Heisst

            It’s not for them since they’re not dying after all.

      • 하세요

        I like the bubble. It allows someone to answer a phone, use the bathroom or get a drink/snack without halting gameplay for everybody.

  • hazelnut1112

    Damn this game really looks fun.

  • Keiji Johnson

    I REALLY wish that they would add online multiplayer for this. They might not know this, but not everyone has a friend or three to play games with offline. The same goes for Ubisoft with Rayman Legends.

    • Anon-non

      They intentionally left those out because interacting with someone in the same room and through a microphone are completely different things. I think developers believe we’ve been spoilt by internet gaming and is trying to bring multiplayer games back to its roots.

      • 324234

        That’s nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse. Give the player the option of playing locally if they find it more fun, more often than not I imagine it’s not even an option. You’ll doubtless have the option in Mario Kart and Smash Bros, as is standard in racing/fighting games.

        • QueenDecim

          I agree, it’s lazy design choice and half assing from Nintendo (par the norm these days) to not include online. I can’t speak of anyone under 15 these days that still has time for local co-op. I have no idea how Nintendo can be so stubborn and blind when it comes to online features. Sony and Microsoft have been doing it fine for the past 7 years. It also effectively ruined any chance of me buying the game. (I know, LOL who cares if you buy it. Just stating my point)

        • Anon-non

          But Mario Party is not a racing nor a fighting game though. They’re removing that option because they want us to stay clear of it, regardless if it hurts them saleswise or not (they can take a hit). Metaphorical NIntendo parents are taking away the chocolate option so that all we have left are healthy apples. Without them, we’d be left with rotten teeth and obesity.

          • 324234

            No. They’re simply deciding not to implement a /feature/ and they/you’re spinning it as a positive. My point was that those are multiplayer games that would benefit local multiplayer just as much as this game would, but they implement online multiplayer because they’re pretty much forced to; every other game in the genre does. They’re not looking out for your best interests, they’re looking out for theirs. You don’t need Nintendo to decide that you’d have more ‘fun’ locally, even potentially at the expense of being able to play multiplayer /at all/, unless you’re spinning. It is what it is, the lack of a feature.

          • Istillduno

            Except you live in an area with no apples and you are left hungry.

            Can’t believe anyone would be so dumb as to argue why plenty of people’s only way to play multiplayer isn’t in the game.

          • Anon-non

            No apples? I would love to live in your world that only has chocolates! (And thanks for showing your level of maturity by insulting my intelligence.)

          • Istillduno

            And here is where you have no way out and you break your own analogy by taking it so literally that it no longer relates to the point you were trying to make, I’m done with you.

          • Anon-non

            So you went from wanting to talk more to all of a sudden ragequitting this conversation? Is that how you’re going to argue? Man you’re really going out on a limb there to make me look like a bad person.

            You were the one who kept continuing the analogy; in no part of your comment did you imply you were interested in continuing the discussion. I refused to discuss more because you did not initiate it. But if you insist, let’s talk.

            Keep in mind that online functionality means running servers. Have you heard of any party game that had dedicated servers? It costs money and Mario Party isn’t the type of game that will be as played frequently as Animal Crossing and Mario Kart. It’s all statistics. I’d be equally outraged if those games did not have online multiplayer. It’s statistics. Animal Crossing and Mario Kart has more long-term players, hence servers. If Mario Party had staying power, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had online. Cost effectiveness is not a hard concept to grasp. (Plus I’m pretty sure they’re keeping themselves busy with Smash Bros and Pokemon X/Y.)

            So many issues come with this. Ragequitters, latency, disconnections (a board takes at least 30 minutes). You know what’s the worst feeling? You happily playing a game when all of a sudden someone decides to stop playing because they lost a star or it disconnects. Sure, the game can swap them out with AI but really what’s the point in playing anymore?

            It’s that subtle player interaction that people don’t get. It’s exactly like playing a board game with your friends and playing it online. It’s the same game but interactions are way different. Game design is pretty interesting. It really is dependent on the game. Journey pretty much only works online. Offline multiplayer IS possible, but it’s a different experience. Similarly, online Mario Party is possible, but a different, lesser experience.

            Plus, why not just gather friends and play together? It’s really not hard to find 2 other people who own 3DSes. (We’ve been doing it for more than a decade.) That’s why Nintendo allowed one-cart full-game download-play, to make it easier for us to play together.

            This is Nintendo’s philosophy. They know what they’re doing. They clearly have the option to put online functionality, but they chose not to. Are they losing sales? Maybe. But we all know Nintendo march to the beat of their own drum. I say let them do their thing and not get too worked up over it.

            If I see something that does not do what I want it to do, I don’t buy it. I don’t go around insulting people’s opinions and (in your case) all of a sudden throw a fit. (“I’m done with you.” What? Where did that come from? Are we breaking up?) I’m more than happy to talk more and hear your side of the story. Maybe less hissy-fits and name-calling next time? *wink wink*

        • Aaron K Stone

          They probably didn’t have the time to implement it. They need a great game to support Wii U during the holidays.

      • You’ve summed it up better than anyone else could.

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      I think this is more on technical issues more than what they want or not there.

      Mario and Rayman Legends both require precious platforming which can be disturbed terribly if lag happens. This is also taking consideration that Nintendo internet capabilities is still not as good as the other two.

      • ForteWily

        I will be honest, after some time with the Wii U, saying that the system’s internet capabilities is below par is something of a lie. Frankly, it more than capable of experiences that we see with the net currently (and aside from in-system streaming, I am including what we see with “Next-gen”).

        That said, this game doesn’t seen built to handle the internet notorious unpredictability. Lag and Latency would be a major concern here, which would brake the experience completely once introduced into the environment.

        A shame, but what can be done?

  • Anthony Hadow

    lot of problems with there multiplayer is the fact that you can do things such as grab each other while playing if they just made it so you couldn’t hurt or stop other players movements it wouldn’t be so bad

    • Ying

      But then it wouldn’t be able to destroy friendships :(
      And really what kind of multi-player Mario game would this be if it couldn’t do that?

      • s07195

        Mario Kart, Mario Party… maybe the point of these games are to destroy your friendships to buy more single-player Mario games. XD

        • Anthony Hadow

          those are meant to be competitive. the regular mario games don’t have to or need to be competitive rather than interfere with everyone while you play it would be nicer and smoother if you worked together in co-op. After all it is a platformer. It could have leaderboards for fastest runs through levels and worlds rather than a big clunky mess. You should be able to do speed runs with your friends but because you can touch the other players it completely ruins it.

          • Kaetsu

            My friends and I have so much fun screwing each other over! None of us ever get mad at each other because we’re always just laughing and having a good time. Also I really like your avatar…Lord Val :)

          • Anthony Hadow

            yeah but you can have fun without it being a mess and thanks

          • Ethan_Twain

            That sounds like what New Super Mario Bros 2 did actually. Have you played that one? Did the multiplayer mode in there sit better with you?

          • Anthony Hadow

            no i gave that mario game a miss the coin thing was far too broken. it seems while trying to appeal to as large an audience as possible the difficulty of some games dont measure up to older ones

  • Anon-non

    There should be a single-player review as well. I plan to play this with my friends, but I probably will replay stages by myself too.

  • James Enk

    we are going to have a lot of fan with the multiplayer, but i also wish they have added online my friends are not that much into gaming and also now days we don’t have the time to get together that often

  • Jan

    my son has super mario bros already. if I had to chose 3 which would be best. SUPER MARIO 2, SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD, SUPER MARIO 3D LAND, MARIO LUIGI DREAM TEAM, Mario Party: Island Tour (Nintendo 3DS)

    we have wii and 3ds

    • Ethan_Twain

      You have come to the right place! I am EXACTLY the nerd you need to help you with this quandary.

      Super Mario 3D World is not available on the hardware you own I’m afraid, the Wii U is a new system out with better graphics, online compatibility, new controller, etc. etc. What would be expected from a new box. So we’ll rule that game out. Of the remaining options:

      New Super Mario Bros 2. This is the best game for youngsters. It’s the easiest both to understand and to complete. It’s very well made, classic Mario running from right to left. This is a game anyone (even you!) can enjoy.

      Super Mario 3D Land. This is probably the highest quality game on your list. It’s a touch harder than New Super Mario Bros. 2, but still very reasonable and the game itself is shockingly good. If the son in question is 9 or older, this should be listed above New Super Mario Bros. 2.

      Mario and Luigi Dream Team. This one is gonna depend on age and personality of your son. It’s a completely different kind of game from the others – there’s a lot of exploring and reading and some reflexes are needed. If he isn’t reading yet, then absolutely not. If he’s reading but not well, then still no. However, if he’s okay with reading then this game is easy to recommend. The text is filled with puns and jokes, the game is designed to be easy to get through (the game is very good about reminding the player what’s happening and how to progress) and it definitely has more personality than other games on this list. This one will take a little more investment to play, but it will pay back in kind.

      Games to avoid:

      Mario Party: Island Tour isn’t out quite yet, but any game labelled “Mario Party” is going to mostly revolve around multiplayer. Unless your son has other friends with 3DS systems who he could set aside time to play with, this is likely to be a bit of a bummer.

      Paper Mario: Sticker Star. This game left many of the grown adult professionals assigned to playtest it confused and frustrated, I imagine things would go even worse with your son. Steer clear of this one unless he’s really looking for a challenge (and even then, we can do better).

      Games you may not know about:

      If you’re looking for a game to play on the family Wii, take a look at Super Mario Galaxy! It’s a little bit older so you’ll be able to find it at a more reasonable price. It also has a cooperative mode where a second player can grab a second controller and help Mario out, which is pretty ideal for playing with a child. There’s a Galaxy and a Galaxy 2 – they’re equally good, grab whichever one you find.

      • Jan

        thanks so much! wow.. a big help!!!! okay. so i will buy mario 3d land, super mario 2 and, Dream Team as he’s 10 and can read fine :) what about. Kirby return as he likes all the kirby games and
        Professor Layton and The Miracle Mask – Nintendo 3DS – I would like some fun educational games, but I don’t really see any. Leapster 2 was great w/ all those learning games… ha ha.. that’s the just mom in me. learn learn learn. Thanks again,

        • Ethan_Twain

          Professor Layton is an excellent option! It’s not educational exactly, but it encourages critical thinking and it’s probably the most wholesome video game I’ve played. It’s so rare to find video games that promote being polite! One trick with Professor Layton is that there are actually an awful lot of those games out there so you could get an older one for cheaper. Professor Layton and the Curious Village or Professor Layton and the Unwound Future are my personal favorites. They’re just as good as the more expensive Miracle Mask and will absolutely work on your son’s 3DS.

          Kirby’s Return to Dreamland is a solid game if you’re looking for a kid friendly game on the family Wii, but there is another Kirby game that’s even better. Kirby’s Epic Yarn is also on the Wii, it’s available for only $20, and is honestly one of the very best games Nintendo has released these past years. Kirby’s Epic Yarn features cooperative play for playing with kids, a nice generous difficulty level, and an absolutely adorable arts and crafts aesthetic to it.

          • Jan

            great.. thanks so much. Now another questions. I thought the 3d cartridges only fit in 3d ds’s so if I bought the older version of professor and it’s a 2d cartridge, it won’t fit in the 3d ds xl i thought? let me know as I have several 2d cartridges for the ds XL (fyi- i said i had the 3d ds xl because that’s his holiday gift this year… ) we have currently the ds xl – If these regular cartridges will fit on the 3d ds xl, then I would do a trade in on the DS XL. thanks again.

          • Ethan_Twain

            Good news for you this time. Every version of the 3DS can play both 3DS and older Nintendo DS carts. The backwards compatibility is complete. Anything you play on the DS XL will also work on the 3DS XL.

          • Jan

            sorry to bother you, but just to clarify. so Is this true: I cannot play 3D cartridges on the ds xl at all or just not in the 3d way. I know they just came out w/ a 2d that plays both 2d and 3d. But since he has the ds xl and I forced to buy the 3D DS XL in order to play the 3d Games. Why did they do that? so basically playing 2d and 3d will work for the 3d ds xl, but you cannot play 3d cartridges on the DS XL? right? omg

          • Ethan_Twain

            The original Nintendo DS released in 2004. It’s a fantastic little piece of kit and there are a lot of models to choose from. However, technology moves very fast and eventually Nintendo needed to release a whole new box. That’s the 3DS. The 3DS isn’t just a DS with a 3D screen, it’s many many times more powerful, has a new button layout, all that jazz.

            So the regular DS can’t play 3DS games not because of the 3D, but because putting a DS cart into a 3DS is like putting an old floppy disc into a CD drive. The DS just doesn’t can’t run those games, they’re built for tech almost a decade newer.

            But the 3DS can still play regular DS games because that way any kid who’s upgrading (like yours is) can still play all his favorite games without needing to dig out the old system.

            So when your son receives his new 3DS, he’s actually getting an awfully cool device. Not only can it play all the new games as well as all the old ones, but it also has downloadable games like on an iPad if you just want something small to put on it, it has built in communication features to play with other people, and it will remain relevant for YEARS to come. Unlike Apple upgrading every year or so, Nintendo only puts out a whole new system once every 6-8 years.

          • Jan

            u ROCK! thanks again for your time and patience. I understand now. :) So with this new 3ds – can he play games with his cousin in New York as we are on the west coast?

          • Ethan_Twain

            Absolutely. I mean, the cousin also needs to have a 3DS and the game to play with, but there’s a pretty good selection of games with fun online components that may be up your son’s alley. In particular I would draw your attention towards Mario Kart 7 and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Both games are fun to play both on your own and online.

          • Jan

            Hi I have another question.. my son mentioned yoshi’s island for 3d ds – I am not sure if I should buy the first one or the newest one that just came out 2 weeks ago. He has super mario bros 3d, and Mario 3d Land – thanks..

          • Ethan_Twain

            Oh no, you don’t need to worry one bit about getting such games in a particular order. If your son wants Yoshi’s Island, you can get him any of the Yoshi’s Island games without hesitation. He probably doesn’t want the first one though, that released on the Super Nintendo nearly twenty years ago :)

            You have two options. Yoshi’s Island DS released on the original Nintendo DS, but will run on your son’s system. It won’t take advantage of the 3D screen or the more advanced graphics, but you’ll be able to find it at a lower price since it’s been on shelves for a while. I found this game on Amazon for about $25.

            Yoshi’s New Island just now released for the 3DS. This game will be easier to find in retail stores, will have better audio/visual technology, and is the game your son probably saw an ad for. It’s going to be a full $35 since it’s too new for any price drops.

            Nintendo can be real clumsy about how they name things. The 3DS is different from the DS, but still plays DS games. Yoshi’s New Island is a sequel to Yoshi’s Island DS, but they couldn’t just name it Yoshi’s Island 3DS so it’s easy to tell which is which.

            But again, I am happy to help you navigate these confusing brands and labels. I hope I cleared up which Yoshi’s Island options you have available.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos