IMAGINE YOUR FAVORITE Super Mario Bros. game. Got one? Okay, now think of the one element in that game that sets it apart as your absolute favorite. Is it the hidden warp zone in the original Super Mario Bros.? Hunting down Yoshi Coins in Super Mario World? Maybe the cannons in Super Mario 64?
No, sorry. All of those are incorrect. The answer we were looking for was "the Tanooki Suit." Hands down the greatest power-up in Mario's long, adventurous history, the mystical leaf would transform players into a raccoon (or at least a fat Italian with a fluffy tail coming out of his ass) blessed with the power of flight. Flight, in an NES game from 1988, was simply mind blowing. And now, with the release of Super Mario 3D Land, the Tanooki Suit is finally back.
If you're one of those filthy liars who disagrees with my answer above, the good news is that the game also includes all those other features I mentioned. It's as if Nintendo approached the development of this game as sort of a makeshift greatest-hits compilation for the series. The first half of the game is a blissful, nostalgic romp through gameplay and level-design mechanisms that longtime Mario fans will gleefully recognize, while the second half is a blitz of the game's new mechanics and power-ups. Admittedly, none of the new elements are as cool as the Tanooki Suit, but what is?
The game also brilliantly uses 3D, both in regard to the handheld's 3D capabilities and in its level design. Levels have you dropping down through clouds and spiraling up along the outside of huge trees. More so than any other Mario game, the level design alone is reason enough to buy this title. The nostalgia and clever gameplay is just a bonus.