The Wii U feels like the console that time forgot. Its popularity wasn't as explosive as its predecessor, and fans overlooked several great games that came and went. But with the success of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has rereleased Wii U titles for its current machine, including "Pikmin 3" and the criminally underrated "The Wonderful 101."
Now, for the 35th anniversary of "Super Mario Bros.," Nintendo has launched "Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury." The core game is a remarkable oddity that came out between the stellar "Super Mario Galaxy 2" and the clever "Super Mario Odyssey." It's a title that lets Mario roam in three dimensions but has a camera angle with little wiggle room. It stays mostly fixed to players as they traverse eight worlds trying to rescue the Sprixie Princesses from Bowser's clutches.
Each timed level has a distinct beginning and end as players venture through obstacles, uncovering secrets such as Green Stars and collectible stamps. "3D World" even has warp zones that let players skip levels. The update features online and offline multiplayer modes that can get chaotic as four players try to beat a level without getting in each other's way.
The other part of this Mario double feature is "Bowser's Fury," which comes off as another experimental curiosity couched in the language of "3D World." Players will recognize the same power-ups and characters such as Plessie, a seafaring dinosaur, but the big difference here lies in the open nature of the short campaign.
Mario is on an archipelago in Lake Lapcat, and he has to help out Bowser Jr., whose father has turned into an enormous rage monster. Players have to use the power of the Giga Bells to turn the mustachioed hero into an enormous cat with glowing fur reminiscent of "Dragon Ball Z's" Goku. He then battles Bowser in a Godzilla-inspired brawl.
Most notably, "Bowser's Fury" essentially creates the foundation for an open-world Mario game. Instead of levels, players have islands that they travel to and explore. Taken together, these games are a fascinating look at a possible future "Super Mario Bros." series. It's almost like "Mario" done in the style of "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker."
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
Platform: Nintendo Switch.