I got to play a little more of Super Mario 3D Land and since I already smacked wood goombas with the tanooki suit I asked a Nintendo rep to show me a more difficult level.
I warped to stage 3-3 and I moved from one floating checkered platform to the next, but most gaps were too large for Mario to leap over. The key to this stage was stomping on green exclamation marks which made tiles (with worried looks) appear. These platforms only lasted for seconds so I had to run and climb up the green panels before they vanished. As you would expect from a Super Mario game, the tiles twisted, turned, and created obstacles for players. Later in the stage, I triggered three green exclamation marks, which worked in tandem to create ground for Mario to (temporarily) stand on. I had to move quickly because as one platform formed, the one I stood on was about to disappear. This level also had a number of cubes that teleported Mario from one area to the next when he went inside of them.
Levels in Super Mario 3D Land have star coins to collect. I created a green tile staircase at the end of the stage to reach one of them. The trick here was hitting the switches in the correct order. It isn’t clear what star coins do, but each level will have these in hard to reach places.
After completing the hardest level available, I went back to level 1-2 and played with the game’s camera using the buttons on the touch screen. The bottom screen also holds a power up item a la Super Mario World. Touch it and you can make a leaf or fire flower appear. Level 1-2 had a new type of piranha plant that spat ink at the screen. These enemies were too far in the background to hit with Mario’s tail, so I grabbed a fire flower and threw fireballs at them. I tried throwing fireballs at the screen too, which you can do but they don’t fly out at the player. It’s also possible to make Mario hang on or kick off the 3D screen in small rooms, like in boss fights, because the "screen" is actually a transparent wall.
Imagine the image on the right viewed from a 3D perspective. Super Mario 3D Land will have nods to the previous titles like that and a level based on The Legend of Zelda.
Super Mario 3D Land is slated for release in November.