While many have questioned the lack of quality games released so far for the 3DS, this Christmas developers have saved their best for last with releases such as Shinobi, Rayman Origins, Super Pokemon Rumble, Cave Story 3D, Tales of the Abyss and Sonic Generations. But two titles that could easily take over the sales during the holidays and can even compete with other big releases are Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7.

After spending time with Super Mario 3D Land, I can safely say that not also did the game best my expectations, but I can say that it is the best 3DS game to show off the functionalities of the console and one which uses the 3D in effective and clever ways.

As usual, the story opens up with Princess Peach getting kidnapped by Bowser and it’s up to Mario to rescue her. But then fans at this point know that the story is only featured to play through the different worlds, find the secret golden coins and try out a number of power suits and even if people new to Mario games can pick the game up they know that this is definitely not a series that focusses on the story.

The game features eight worlds, each with a number of different-themed levels to play through and the gameplay is a combination of the traditional 2D and the recent 3D previously featured in Mario games during the past few years, resulting in a game that both feels familiar and new at the same time. Each level is very different from the last, with the camera, level designs and obstacles constantly giving players something new at every turn and are probably some of the most intelligent use of platform designs that I have played on for some time, which I am happy to compare to the Super Mario Galaxy levels for their clever and unique take on the traditional formula. Using the camera and level designs, the 3D effect works at a really well that makes the enemies, specific platforms and floating effects of snow and dirt stand out enough to be recognisable, but not too distracting from the gameplay.

In terms of the power suits featured this time around are the classic Fire Suit, Boomerang Suit and the Tanooki Suit. You can find these powers from certain boxes with question marks and after defeating enemies that appear to have one of these powers and abilities, which is a nice touch. But while fans know what to expect from the power from the Fire Flower, it’s the return of the Tanooki Suit and the new addition of the Boomerang Suit that makes this a great Mario game. You use the Tanooki Suit to whip enemies with your tail and when falling, you can walk in the air to slow you down and land safely onto the next platform. Meanwhile, the Boomerang Suit lets you throw boomerangs in the same way as the Boomerang Bros, hitting enemies from a distance and obtaining items from hard to reach places. The fact that the team has carefully selected suits that are not just unique but are fun to use in their own ways only makes the experience more enjoyable when playing.

Originally, I was going to give this game three out of five stars due to the fact that the eight worlds can be beaten quite easily and I even managed to get most of the secret golden coins hidden in each level during my first playthrough, but managing to be fun and engaging nonetheless.

However, and this is no major spoiler, after beating the eight worlds gamers will be offered eight new secret worlds that boost up the difficulty level that really brings the star rating up to a full five stars. These secret worlds are very challenging as the controls and the way the original worlds are laid out to get through the platforms are pushed further in terms of approaching certain platforms and reaching the goal.

Even after defeating the total of the sixteen levels, there are still the golden coins that you can find and of course offers lots of replaybility. It’s a bit of a shame that there is no form of a multiplayer mode, but then the game does support StreetPass that adds a nice feature, getting new items and beating time trials from other players on the go.

Overall, this is a fun and exciting entry in the Super Mario series that both fans and newcomers will absolutely enjoy and is easily the best 3DS game to date!

With this and the up-coming Mario Kart 7, they should without a doubt be on every 3DS owner’s Christmas list and if you don’t have one, then there is no better time to finally get one!