Super Mario 3D World is a 3D Mario platformer that was released on November 22, 2013 for the Wii U.Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad are enjoying a nighttime meteor shower on Peach's Castle grounds when they come across a transparent warp pipe sticking out of the ground. Out of the pipe comes a green pixie (known as one of the seven Sprixie Princesses). She explains that Bowser has kidnapped her friends—and then Bowser drags her back into the pipe, ignoring Peach this time around in favor of his new prizes. The four follow him and his captive down the pipe, where they find the Sprixie Kingdom, a world they must work together to traverse in order to defeat Bowser once again.Like Super Mario 3D Land on the Nintendo 3DS, it is a 3D Mario that plays like a 2D Mario. Additionally, just like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, up to 4 players will be implemented simultaneously. Alongside a new "Cat Suit" power-up enabling characters to scratch enemies and climb up walls, 3D World marks the first time since Super Mario Bros. 2 that Peach and Toad can be selected for play, as well as reintroducing the concept of having significant ability differences between the characters.Despite its name, this has nothing to do with the Super NES game (aside from some returning enemies). It does, however, mirror the relationship between Super Mario Land and World by aiming to be a bigger console game than its original handheld adventure.Captain Toad received his own spinoff based on his puzzle-oriented stages in this game, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
This game provides examples of:
Action Duo: There are many combinations including:
Battle Couple: Pairing one of the brothers with Peach or Rosalina, especially with Mario and Peach.
Antepiece: Bowser's Highway Showdown starts with kickable soccer ball bombs laying around and then being fired out of cannons that can be used to defeat enemies and destroy big brick walls, hinting at the more complex dodging and kicking required to fight Bowser himself. Also, before you fight Hisstocrat, you will have seen many statues climbable with the Cat Suit that resemble his smaller minions, hinting at how you can climb up the minions to attack Hisstocrat.
The game is filled to the brim with these, with each world having at least one example.
Anti-Frustration Features: When a player has multiple copies of themself from grabbing a Double Cherry, the clones will sometimes move a bit faster than normal so they all stay in a tight group.
Art Evolution: This game uses more of the Galaxy games' graphical aesthetics than 3D Land did.
In comparison to the rest of the series, Peach's standard design is made fairly different in this game - to be shorter and stouter (by way of a poofier dress) than usual, with a bigger head relative to her body - in order to work/look better in regular gameplay, especially relative to the other characters (as Peach is normally very tall and skinny even when compared to Luigi). Likewise, Toad is slightly taller and thicker (though not much). Their proportions change even more when the player uses the Cat Suit with them (see Off Model).
Camera Screw: When playing with multiple players, the camera can get a bit uncooperative at times when players are scattered about.
Cartoon Bomb: Along with the standard bombs, some are textured to look like soccer balls. That alone provides a hint on how to handle them.
Cat Girl: Princess Peach and Rosalina with the Cat powerup.
Chekhov's Gun: POW Blocks make minor appearances and aren't required to beat any one level. However, they're pivotal in the final battle.
Color-Coded Multiplayer: In the Luigi Bros. minigame, player 1 is Luigi in his modern palette (green hat/shirt and blue overalls), and player 2 is Luigi in his palette from the original Super Mario Bros. (white hat/overalls and green shirt).
Crosses over with Color-Coded Characters: Mario - Red, Luigi - Green, Peach - Pink, Toad - Blue, Rosalina - Cyan.
Mario tends to get 'default' colored power-ups (the colors from the 3D Land powerups are kept for his colors) as often as he gets red ones, such as retaining a Blue Boomerang Suit. This results in Chromatic Arrangement regarding the Cat Suit - Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad and Rosalina are Yellow, Green, Pink (Red), Blue and Black, respectively.
The Comet Observatory can be seen hidden far back in the background of the full version of the box art (as seen on the page image). This was a hint to Rosalina being playable in the game. Not only that, but the final world in the game, World Crown, has the Comet Observatory theme from the first Super Mario Galaxy game.
Controllable Helplessness: Even through it's established Captain Toad cannot jump due to his heavy backpack, you can still have him try, as pressing jump makes him attempt to hop despite staying grounded.
Convection Schmonvection: A Mario staple, this game has some stand-out examples, such as going through a clear pipe that goes under lava, and rising lava that doesn't kill you until it's ankle-deep.
Cool Car: Bowser has an enormous spike-covered purple wagon◊ that looks like a mix between a classic convertible and a Hummer Dinger, using it to try and run over Mario and friends. He later uses a second version covered in Tron Lines. He's so proud of it that he even introduces it with gestures that seem to say "Check out the new wheels, chumps!"
Cool Crown: Whoever gets the highest score in a level will start the next level wearing a crown. Finishing a level while wearing this crown will reward the player additional points, but other players can steal this crown.
Cool Train: Bowser has a fleet of them with large Bullet Bills making up the locomotive cars.
Cutscene Power to the Max: If Meowser was even half as aggressive during gameplay as he is during the cutscene introducing him, he would be impossible to beat.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Like Super Mario 3D Land, the Flip-Swap Platforms flip whenever someone jumps. This gets really confusing with Rosalina, since in Super Mario Galaxy 2, they flipped whenever someone used the Star Spin, but they don't in this game.
If you're the type of Mario gamer who holds the dash button as much as possible, you might want to hold off pressing it when you're in the Cat Suit at some times, as holding Y in the air while in the suit will make you pounce diagonally, which may throw you off somewhat.
The normal roll maneuver is NOT an attack, but if you're in either the Cat Suit or Tanooki Suit, it is. Keep in mind what power-up you have before attempting to ram enemies with dash attacks.
Anyone familiar with the modern Mario games will most likely wall-kick on instinct whenever falling down a pit, grazing the wall. It pays to unlearn this when in the Cat Suit as in most circumstances, it'll benefit you more to climb up the wall rather than kick off it.
Dark Action Girl: There are two female bosses, Pom Pom and the Hisstocrat queen, making this the only non-RPG Mario game to have more than one female boss.
Dark Is Not Evil / Woman in Black: Rosalina wears a black/midnight blue Cat suit (compared to the other heroes' colorful ones), which resembles a tuxedo cat.
Degraded Boss: Poor Boss Brolder the second time you meet him. Instead of an end-of-world boss, now he's part of a blockade, with regular blockade music, and the blockade isn't even named after him; it's named after Brolders in general.
Demoted to Extra: Yellow Toad (and the rest of Captain Toad's brigade) now pass out items in the Toad Houses.
Department of Redundancy Department: The seventh world is named World Castle. It too has a castle at the end of it, named World Castle-Castle note Though the "level" castle is a bit smaller, so it could be expressed as World Castle-Keep.
Foliage such as bushes and flowers bop to the beat of the music, even changing it up depending on the melody. They'll even react accordingly when the clock hits the 100-second mark.
The rocket ship that takes you to the bonus worlds after you beat the game will show up in the background at the beginning of World 1-1 after you've unlocked it.
Only the Sprixie Princesses that you've rescued in total will show up in Bowser's Lava Lake Keep to help rescue the 7th Sprixie Princess. Normally, this would be 6, but it's possible to skip certain castles (and thus, not rescue the Sprixie Princesses there) by taking warp pipes hidden in certain levels.
In World Castle-5, collecting the top most key coin will trigger the poison cloud trap regardless of whether you've collected it last or not. Bad news for those who tried to be clever and skip a few coins so as to not collect the top most coin last. Also, if you wait outside of the tower before going into the unlocked warp box, the poison cloud will pause for a bit before it flows into the lava, causing said lava to rise and kill you if you don't get inside the warp box in time.
Most POW blocks can be activated by being tapped on the touch screen of the Wii U Game Pad. But in the Great Tower of Bowser Land's battle, to avoid making it too easy, the blocks need to be hit by the player character.
Ditto for the green stars where you can only collect them by touching them with your character instead of the of stylus.
Difficult but Awesome: The Spin Jump can get you out of a bind real fast in some situations, as it's the highest jump in your arsenal that only requires minimal footing, plus the spinning gives you extra hang time to gauge a landing. But since it requires you to rotate in place before taking off, it's hard to position yourself for the jump in addition to jumping in the direction you actually want to go.
An officially-recognized one is Toad, being dubbed by the devs as an advanced speedrun character.
Divergent Character Evolution: Unlike the New Super Mario Bros. installments with multiplayer throughout the adventure, everyone in this game has their own unique abilities. Peach is the slowest and can float, Mario and Luigi are the same speed but Luigi jumps higher and falls slower, while Toad's the fastest but also falls the fastest. Rosalina is slower than Peach but makes up for it with the spin attack from Super Mario Galaxy, which serves as both an attack and a small double jump. Collecting a power-up disables the spin attack.
Dual Boss: King and Queen Hisstocrat in the middle Warp Box of the Boss Blitz level.
Dungeon Bypass: In the beginning portion of Faster Fire Bros, it's possible to skip the travel tubes by simply running on top of them, which also allows you to avoid being hit by the fireballs that a Fire Bro would hurl into the tube. The section with the Thwomps can also have its tubes bypassed with Luigi or Peach's superior jumps.
Easter Egg: Like New Super Luigi U before it, this game has hidden 8-bit Luigis scattered all over the game. There's even one hiding in the instruction manual!
Everything's Better With Bunnies: A few levels have one the characters can catch for certain goodies. Mount Must Dash's Miiverse stamp is also a rabbit, which you get by catching one.
Everything's Better with Spinning: Returning from Super Mario Sunshine is the spinning jump - twirling the analog stick quickly causes your character to spin like a top, and pressing a jump button during this sequence has them do a spinning jump that allows them to reach heights that a normal jump normally can't. The same effect can also be achieved if a character standing underneath another jumps and hits whoever's above them.
Fake Longevity: Want to get all five stars and get 100% Completion? Be prepared to take a very long time. Eventually, you will have to complete EVERY stage in EVERY world with all FIVE characters (including Rosalina, who isn't unlocked until after you've completed World Star, which makes the game's longevity even more fake!)
Family-Unfriendly Death: All of the bosses disappear in a flash of light upon defeat, but Motley Bossblob lies sprawled on his back, looking truly dead when he dissolves into light. His star-shaped pupils don't help.
Four-Temperament Ensemble: Mario (melancholic), the happy-go-lucky Luigi (sanguine/choleric), Princess Peach (phlegmatic), the energetic Toad (choleric), and Rosalina (phlegmatic/leukine).
Friendly Fireproof: Zig-Zagged. Fireballs won't hurt other players, but projectiles from the Cannon Box can. When carried, the Piranha Plant will attack other players, knocking them over but otherwise leaving them unharmed. On the other side, Hammer, Boomerang, and Fire Brothers can accidentally knock each other out.
Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: After beating Bowser in the first and penultimate battles with him, the bridge gives way along with his car. It takes a couple seconds of Bowser hanging in midair and flailing comically before gravity takes him as well.
Hard Mode Filler: Worlds Mushroom and Flower are composed of previous levels with gimmicks thrown in.
Heartbeat Soundtrack: Get near Champion's Road on World Crown's map. You'll know you have quite a challenge waiting when you hear the heartbeats.
Helpful Mook: There are sleeping Piranha Plants in pots that will eat any enemies the player comes across when carried, but they become hostile once the player drops them.
Some enemies are living trampolines that turn into actual trampolines when attacked, which you can use to jump to higher areas.
The rats will do damage if you collide with them, but they also demonstrate how some obstacles work.
Hub Level: In a vast departure from 3D Land's map system, this game's world map is closer to those from games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, complete with branching paths leading from level to level and world to world. However, Mario and his friends have complete freedom of movement and can even jump around the area, essentially making it a smaller-scale reinterpretation of the freer Hub Levels of the pre-3D Land 3D games.
Hero of Another Story: Captain Toad appears to be this, with his own levels, and appearing to drive the Golden Space Train.
Hollywood Darkness: Played straight in some caves and night levels, averted for some others.
The Sprixie Kingdom map shows that there are at least five worlds that you will travel to.
Not to mention that if you zoom out and move the camera around you, you can see the next worlds that you will travel to.
The red level list reveals the amount of levels that are in the worlds you haven't completed yet.
You can also see the silhouettes of the stamps that you haven't unlocked yet and some of them are easy to tell what they are.
Probably the worst one comes from the Miiverse features. It's probably best to have those off if you want a spoiler-free run.
Many posts reveal that there are stamps of Rosalina, and if that doesn't convince you, there's a stamp of her in a cat suit.
Playing against the Ghost Miis can accidentally spoil the game when you see one of them doing a spin jump from Super Mario Galaxy which reveals that it could either be a new power-up later on in the game or that Rosalina is possibly a playable character.
And to top it all off, Meowser, the final boss, is a stamp. They really should've auto-spoilered that one.
Invincible Minor Minion: The Big Ant Troopers can't be killed by jumps, ground pounds, or projectile attacks. Fortunately, they are only found in places where their invincibility is vital for when you need to pounce on them and get to various platforms.
Jumped at the Call: Peach is the first one to enter the pipe and go after Bowser and save the Sprixie Princesses.
Kaizo Trap: Certain Big Boo's Haunt levels will put fake flagpoles made of Boos at certain points, which can be dangerous if you have a bunch of Boos nipping at your heels and expect them to be defeated by the automatic enemy-killer activated by goals.
Running out of time by messing up the Clear Pipes at the end of Champion's Road.
Laser-Guided Karma: During the end credits, Bowser has been trapped in a bottle, as punishment by the Sprixies.
LeitMotif: The Slide theme from Super Mario 64 is present.
The lose a life and game over themes are rearrangements of the ones in Super Mario Bros. 3.
While the theme that plays when you finish a regular level is unique to this game, the boss level stages use the same fanfare from Super Mario 3D Land, only with an actual orchestra.
The map music for Bowser's Egopolis final world is, in many ways, an even jazzier reprise of "Bowser's Highway Showdown" (as well the theme that plays when you're ambushed by Hisstocrat and Motley Bossblob at the ends of world 3 and 6, respectively), complete with identical bridges to the outro.
Me's a Crowd: The Double Cherries, which gives the player a clone that follows his/her every movement.
Also happens with Luigi Bros., where both players are Luigi.
Pom Pom has gained this ability and will utilize it during your battle with her. Boom Boom even tries his hand at this cloning business in his second battle.
Mirror Boss: Bowser uses the Super Bell and Double Cherry in the final boss fight.
Mix-and-Match Critters: Conkdors are condors that look like cartoon ostriches sporting a spiked purple Koopa shell. Also, their beaks look like toucans'.
Plessie resembles a plesiosaurus/Loch Ness Monster (aquatic, names resembles "plesiosaurus" and "Nessie"), a seal (has seal-like bark and flippers) and a Yoshi (gives Mario and friends a ride).
Monster Clown: The Motley Bossblob can take the form of a giant metal clown.
Moving the Goalposts: World Star-4 features a literal moving goalpost. What appears to be a simple 8 second Breather Level turns into a frantic chase as the winged goalpost moves ever further away from you.
My Instincts Are Showing: In the Nintendo Direct trailer, Cat Mario is shown sneaking up and pouncing on birds in one of the levels.
My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Apparently, Meowser's clones can act independently. Something you can't utilize with your own clones when using the Double Cherries.
Noob Bridge: A variation. While all obstacles in the game can be navigated normally, there are many shortcuts one can take if they're savvy with moves not listed in the manual. Such as the Spin Jump (rotate the stick until you spin, then jump) and the Ground Pound Jump (jump shortly after landing a Ground Pound).
Not Quite Flight: The Tanooki Suit returns with the same limited floating mechanics from 3D Land.
Off Model: Done deliberately with Peach's proportions changing to fit the Cat Suit, as the model for the latter is shared among the playable characters. This also happens with Rosalina. Boomerang and Tanooki Rosalina suffer this, since they share the same models and animations with Boomerang and Tanooki Peach. Rosalina noticeably looks off with Peach's girly running animations in those powered-up forms.
Power-Up: 3D World introduces the Cat Suit. When you grab the Super Bell, you will now be able to climb walls, scratch, and pounce on your enemies.
The Fire Flower, Tanooki Suit, Boomerang Suit, and Mega Mushroom will be returning as well, the latter appearing for the first time in a 3D Mario game (as well as in 4-player co-op, something that has not yet happened in the New Super Mario Bros. series it debuted in).
While this does mark the first appearance of the Mega Mushroom in a 3D Mario game, its effects of enlarging the player were first used in Super Mario 64 DS courtesy of the Super Mushroom...
The Double Cherries, which create one copy of the player for each one grabbed.
Power-Up Mount: Plessie, a large Yoshi-like dinosaur, can carry all four characters and is able to race through certain river levels.
Projectile Pocketing: Items such as Green Stars can be collected from afar with certain projectiles such as boomerangs or cannonballs.
Promoted to Playable: Captain Toad becomes playable for the first time in levels exclusive to him where he can only navigate without jumping. This game also marks Rosalina's first playable appearance in a Mario platformer as a Secret Character.
Punny Name: Every Climax Boss. First, Hisstocrat, whose name is a combination of "hiss" and "aristocrat" due to being a king and a snake. Second, Motley Bossblob, which refers to the multitude of blobs that make up his giant form, but also a motley, a name for a jester's outfit. Third, Meowser, which is pretty self-explanatory.
Racing Ghost: Ghosts of other players' Miis can be raced against if you connect online.
Recurring Boss Template: Except for the Final Boss, all the boss types are fought at least one other time. In particular, Boom-Boom and Pom Pom are back, acting much like they did in 3D Land. They do have some new abilities, though; Boom-Boom can turn invisible and Pom Pom learned how to clone herself and toss shurikens.
Removable Shell: Koopa Troopas once again have this, for the first time in the 3D games since Super Mario 64. This time around, the player can actually put on the shells themselves to get some Super Speed.
Rise to the Challenge: World 6-7 involves having to escape a tower-like mine that is being filled up by Fuzzies.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Princess Peach and Rosalina. Also done mildly with the Sprixie Princesses, who pull out tools to set up Clear Pipes for the heroes to move between worlds.
Rhythm Game: The slot machine bonus game, if you want it to be note the key is to hit the panels halfway between beats, each at the same point of a measure, as the pictures change with the beat, and loop back after each measure, and the beat-block gimmick returning from Galaxy 2..
Save the Princess: Averted for Princess Peach! In a departure from the standard Mario plotline, she is now playable alongside the Mario Bros. and Toad.
Instead of Peach, seven other princesses will serve this, all of them being the Sprixie Princesses of the kingdom.
Scenery as You Go: Footlight Lane has paths that only appear in a small circle around your character. Doing a Ground Pound, getting a star, or attacks from certain enemies expands the circle's range.
Scenery Porn: The game has stunning visuals and it really shows in the scenery.
Score Milking: If one were so inclined, they could utilize the Lucky Cat Suit's ability to create coins with its transformation power to essentially have an infinite means of gaining score (along with a veryslow method of gaining lives). This is more effective in the Mystery Houses, where grabbing a Green Star stops the timer.
Signature Move: Well, maybe Signature Power-Up in this case: While all characters get stamps that showcase them in the Cat Suit, the three characters other than Mario (who is shown with all power-ups) get stamps based on the other power ups: Luigi is shown using the Tanooki Suit (or to be more precise: his own Kitsune variation of the suit), Peach is shown using the Fire Flower, and Toad is shown using the Boomerang Suit. They were also seen using them in the various trailers. Rosalina, the secret character, has an actual Signature Move in the Spin Jump which only works when she's not using a power-up. Fittingly, she only gets the usual four stamps showing her Normal, Small, and Cat Suit forms, as well as her Player Icon.
That's not the only one: one of the secrets in a level takes you to a bunch of black blocks stacked together to form an 8-bit Link from the original game. Light them all up to reveal the sprite, and the "Item get" jingle from Ocarina of Time plays.
The first Mystery House where you fight enemies is called Mystery House Melee. The second one is called Mystery House Brawl.
Signature Line: Mario's "It's-a me!" gets said by each Double Mario made by grabbing a Double Cherry. Peach says "So Peachy!" for each Double Cherry.
Skill Gate Character: Peach and Rosalina, in spite of being able to correct mistakes and/or take shortcuts with floating or spin attacking/double jumping in Rosalina's case, move at the pace of... well, the pace you'd expect a lady with high heels to move at. Veterans of the game will find that the other characters, coupled with advanced moves, can clear levels faster and more efficiently.
Soccer Boss: Bowser's Highway sees you kicking the soccer ball bombs he throws at you back at his car.
Spin Attack: Rosalina. Serves as an attack and a small extra jump, a la Super Mario Galaxy. It gives her advantage over the other characters since she's the only one that can do it, but it won't help much for speedruns. Also, if she collects a power-up the spin attack will not work.
Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad return, each with different abilities.
Mario has average speed and jump height.
Luigi jumps the highest and kicks his legs while jumping.
Peach is the slowest and can hover in mid-air for a few seconds.
Toad is the fastest, jumps the lowest, and falls the fastest.
You are allowed to pick whichever character at the beginning of a level.
Once again, the gang sets out to save a kingdom of fairies from imprisonment.
The characters carry objects over their heads and can throw them at other enemies to defeat them.
When running at full speed, Mario & Luigi tuck their arms in while running, just like their SMB2 sprites.
On that note, Peach and Toad walk around just like their SMB2 sprites.
The super crouch jump returns where if you jump immediately after pressing the crouch button, your character will merely hop around like a frog. If you hold the crouch button long enough, your character will shake and can perform a backflip, complete with the charging sounds and cheering from Super Mario Advance.
The red doors look like the Subcon doors.
When in small form, the characters look like their SMB2 sprites where their heads were big and they look rather flattened.
The bonus rooms where you have to collect the green star before the time runs out is a lot like the potion doors where you have to quickly collect items before you are sent back and the door disappears. The Mystery Boxes that send you to the bonus rooms also disappear after being used once.
After losing a life, you always start in Super form because in SMB 2, you always started a new life with two hearts (Super and small form).
The Double Cherries that multiply a character seem to be reminiscent of the Cherries.
Toad being blue seems to be a reference to original NES version, where Toad had a blue palette.
The theme for the slot machines/treasure room is the theme of the character select screen, which calls to mind its end-of-the-level slot game one can play there.
Hisstocrat is a huge Call Back to Wart as they are both reptilian royalty with squinted eyes and wear crowns and fancy robes.
The first world is a grassland and the second world is a desert.
Bowser's Castle is in the seventh world, just as Wart's was.
Wart's castle is high in the sky and so is Bowser's. The Bowser Carnival world is even higher!
The Sprixies look a lot like the fairies that needed to be rescued the last time Peach and Toad joined the Mario Brothers.
Princess Peach is the first female character to play as in a 3D Mario game, just like she was the first female character in any Mario game, namely Super Mario Bros. 2.
Again, Bowser uses this trope when he throws soccer bombs that can be kicked back onto the car he's riding. If he'd just kept on spitting fire at Mario and his friends, he'd be invincible.
Pom Pom uses doppelgangers to aid her in her fight. You have to hit the real deal in order to damage her. The trope comes in when she decides to stand out from her doppelgangers for no apparent reason by having a different colored Fuuma Shuriken than the clones, as well as a few other differences.
Both Hisstocrat and Queeen Hisstocrat feel a need to have their servants hold plates over their heads for no reason other than to make it easier to stomp them.
Boss Brolder would be invincible if it wasn't for the fact that he's hurt by having a Brolder (which he summoned to help him) thrown at him.
Motley Bossblob only becomes vulnerable because he performs the extra-high jump that splits his clown form into smaller blobs. If he stuck with the smaller jumps, he would be invincible.
Meowser somehow felt the need to go onto pow blocks at certain points of his fight. Said pow blocks are the only thing that can hurt him.
Top-Down View: Honeycomb Starway is an Auto-Scrolling Level where you travel across hexagonal platforms using nothing but the Boomerang Flower. Switchblack Ruins also uses this view.
Took a Level in Badass: Strategy-wise, really. On top of generally showing a bit more competence in his minions and obstacles, somewhere along the line, Bowser finally took a good look at Mario's powerup arsenal, and asked himself "why haven't I ever tried to use these?". His idea to perch precariously on top of POW blocks for Mario to hit him was a little less bright.
Octoombas got significantly buffed (as they do for each subsequent game they appear in), with them now being only hurt by ground pounds and shooting three cannonballs (not rocks this time) at a time in succession.
Traintop Battle: The train levels see you fighting enemies and dodging obstacles on top of the trains.
Tube Travel: The Clear Pipes frequenly let you do this.
There's a level where some Boos fake you out by disguising themselves as the end of level flagpole.
And another one much later on where a goalpost is right there at the beginning. The post then grows wings and tries to run away from you, setting the stage for the real course. You can still end it any time if you're fast enough and touch the pole, but if you're going for 100% then you more-or-less have to run through the entire level.