Bowser’s Fury continues Nintendo’s track record of crafting excellent games from simplistic skeletons. Its only recognizable flaw is the relatively short length compared to Mario’s other outings.
If you were wondering if Super Mario 3D World is worth buying a second time for Bowser’s Fury alone, the answer is yes. Bowser’s Fury is a fantastic Mario game that is likely to have any fan of the series smiling from start to finish.
If you were wondering if 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is worth buying if you’ve never played the Wii U original, the answer is: why haven’t you already bought it? Together these two experiences create one of the greatest platformers of all time, containing some of the best of both linear and sandbox Mario design.
In practice, Bowser’s Fury plays like a cross between The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and Super Mario 3D World. The world is completely open, unlike any Mario game before it.
The freedom to go anywhere sans loading screens and menus is liberating and makes it hard to go back to the older 3D Mario games, which now feel stiff by comparison.
One of the few problems is that Mario’s control, which is borrowed from 3D World, feels out of place in this new game. The stiffer, more limiting control works well in a linear obstacle course but feels constraining in an open world.
The dive move has been added back after it’s absence in both Galaxy and 3D World, and it’s a welcome edition, but it feels weak compared to its appearance in 64 and Sunshine. Activating the dive cancels Mario’s momentum, making it harder to build up speed and move skillfully.
The power-up system of 3D World makes up for some of this lost depth. The different abilities added by the fire flower, tanooki suit, boomerang flower, and 3D World’s signature power-up, the catsuit, make movement more interesting, but the game still never reaches the mechanical heights of Odyssey or Sunshine.
The addition of Fury Bowser is a particularly inspired choice. Every 5 to 10 minutes Bowser will spring forth from the lake to attack Mario. This interaction creates an interesting dynamic because Bowser’s attacks make the game more difficult, but they can also be used to break open special blocks and allow you to reach certain collectibles.
So when Bowser appears, you can choose to either continue what you’re currently doing or hurry over to those blocks. Some of the best moments of the game were when I was hurrying across the water trying to get to the other side of the map as Bowser tried to kill me.
The worst thing about Bowser’s Fury is that it ends, and once it does, there’s nothing that can scratch the same itch again.