Super Mario 3D World has really been pushing its new cat suit powerup. It’s on the box, it’s in the trailers, and a distinct “Meeeow” even follows Mario’s enthusiastic recital of the title. When I first booted up the game I saw that even the title splash screen is dedicated to showing our intrepid heroes running around playing with the cat suit.
I’m a cat person, but I do admit that this emphasis seemed weird to me. Sure, Mario 3D Land did something similar with its focus on the Tanuki suit, but that was bringing back a classic. The pitch for Super Mario 3D World’s defining new form was just putting on a cat suit? That was it? I mean, Mario already throws fireballs, flies, and turns into metal! Mario letting out his feline side just seemed a little bit… tame.
Long story short, I was wrong to doubt, which I quickly learned once I got to spend some time with the game. The cat suit is my favorite power up in Super Mario 3D World, and it may now be my favorite Mario power up ever (sorry wing cap!).
See, Mario games have always been about motion. You don’t go to the end of the level to do something there. The thing at the end isn’t important. A hidden blue coin, a star, a flagpole, it really doesn’t matter. As soon as you get where you’re going, it’s time to go to the next place. The important part is the actual process of moving toward your goal. And the cat suit completely capitalizes on this by allowing more and more fluid ways to do exactly what Mario does best. Move.
Mario runs, Mario jumps—it’s a testament to the ingenuity of Nintendo’s developers that these simple actions have never gone stale. But Cat Mario? Cat Mario pounces. Cat Mario climbs. Cat Mario dive-kicks! Like the famous Tanuki Suit before it, the cat suit is something I don’t even want to go into a level without. Where the Tanuki Suit helps by extending hang time above a platform, the cat suit saves you if you fall below. Cat Mario will automatically cling to any vertical wall he jumps into, so even a jump well short of the mark can often be saved by a little scrambling.
Not that the cat suit comes without dangers of its own. I’ve found myself pouncing off the edge of platforms just in the first two worlds of the game. I’ve also learned the hard way that, for every towering pillar I can climb to the top of, there’s a thin plate of a platform suspended in space. The cat suit isn’t so helpful with those!
It’s those dangers that really make the cat suit for me, though. You can climb after a sloppy jump, but only if there’s a wall under your destination. You can perform a leaping attack raining kitty death from above, but you’d better be careful where you aim that thing, lest you throw yourself off a ledge. And the most insidious danger of them all? Getting complacent because you got used to it. More ways to survive, more ways to die, more ways to move. The cat suit is really something special.
There’s also the constant threat of dying because you got distracted by how cute cat Toad is. Maybe pick Luigi when you’re sitting on a cat suit—even a pair of fuzzy ears saves Luigi from looking awkward.