Super Mario 3D Land (2011)

by Nish
7 minutes read


Blending the best of both worlds, Super Mario 3D Land combines traditional 2D Mario platforming with engaging 3D gameplay, introducing new mechanics and power-ups in a vibrant and meticulously designed world.


Super Mario 3D Land, released in 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS, marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Mario games, blending classic 2D platforming elements with innovative 3D gameplay.


Super Mario 3D Land, released in 2011, is a platform game in the Super Mario series developed and published by Nintendo for their Nintendo 3DS handheld console. It marked the first Mario adventure tailored for the 3DS, blending elements from both traditional 2D side-scrolling Mario games and modern free-roaming 3D Mario titles.

In a whimsical twist, a tree adorned with Tanooki Leaves loses its foliage during a violent storm. The next day, Mario and some Toads discover a letter from none other than Bowser himself: Princess Peach has been kidnapped once again!

Shigeru Miyamoto aptly described Super Mario 3D Land as “a 3D Mario game that plays like a 2D Mario game.” This unique blend combines the best of both worlds. Here’s what sets it apart:

Linear Levels with 3D Freedom: The game seamlessly merges linear-based levels reminiscent of classic side-scrolling Mario adventures with the freedom of three-dimensional movement. Mario can explore in all directions, leap across platforms, and perform a variety of actions.
Health System and Moves: Like the old-school side-scrolling Mario games, Mario shrinks when damaged by enemies or hazards. There’s a dedicated “Dash” button for speed control, and being “Small Mario” results in losing a life. But Mario has learned new tricks:

Roll Jump: Cover vast horizontal distances in a single leap.
The Goal Pole: Each level’s objective remains familiar—a mad dash to reach the “Goal Pole” before the time runs out.

Mario embarks on a quest to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser’s clutches. The journey takes him through a delightful array of worlds, each brimming with colorful environments, tricky obstacles, and familiar enemies. From grassy plains to haunted mansions, Mario’s adventure unfolds across diverse landscapes.

No Mario game is complete without power-ups! Super Mario 3D Land introduces several iconic ones:

Tanooki Suit: Transform into Tanooki Mario, granting the ability to float gently and swat enemies with a raccoon tail.
Fire Flower: Unleash fireballs to scorch foes.
Boomerang Flower: Toss boomerangs at enemies from a distance.
Propeller Box: Launch into the air with a propeller hat.
The Mix of Challenge and Joy
The game strikes a balance between challenge and accessibility. Levels vary in difficulty, ensuring both seasoned players and newcomers find enjoyment. Hidden Star Coins beckon exploration, while inventive level design keeps players engaged.

Super Mario 3D Land received widespread acclaim. Critics praised its creativity, technical design, and nostalgic nods to Mario’s roots. However, opinions on the 3D effect were mixed. Despite this, the game soared commercially, selling over 12.86 million copies worldwide—making it the seventh best-selling 3DS game. It also holds the distinction of being the first 3DS title to surpass five million copies sold.

Nintendo later re-released the game via Nintendo eShop, ensuring a new generation of players could experience Mario’s delightful romp.

Super Mario 3D Land paved the way for its sequel, Super Mario 3D World, released on the Wii U in 2013. Its influence echoes through subsequent Mario titles, solidifying its status as a cherished gem in the Super Mario universe.


Main characters include Mario, the hero; Princess Peach, the damsel in distress; Bowser, the primary antagonist; and a variety of Mario’s foes such as Goombas, Koopas, and Boos. New and returning power-ups play a central role in the game’s strategy.


Gameplay in Super Mario 3D Land is a hybrid of 2D side-scrolling and 3D free-roaming platforming. The game is structured around short levels that require players to reach the flagpole at the end, incorporating puzzles, timed challenges, and boss fights. The 3DS’s 3D capabilities are used to enhance spatial awareness and puzzle-solving.


Super Mario 3D Land stands as a testament to Nintendo’s ability to innovate within established franchises, offering a fresh yet familiar Mario experience that brilliantly utilizes the 3D capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS.

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