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Video Game / Super Mario 3D Land

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An all new dimension in the classic Mario platforming land.

Super Mario 3D Land is a 3D Mario platformer that came out in November 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS (retail version; as of 2012 the game is available from the Nintendo eShop as well). Unlike earlier 3D Mario games, the style of 3D Land is essentially a blend between 2D and 3D Mario. Many elements, from linear level structure to Super Mushroom-based health to old-school power-ups like the Tanooki Suit, have been implemented into the 3D games for the first time. It's best described by Shigeru Miyamoto himself as "...more like a 3D Mario that plays like a 2D Mario game."

The premise is that a tree full of Tanooki Leaves is stripped of its leaves in a violent storm. When Mario and some Toads check the tree on the next day, they receive a letter from Bowser that he captured Peach again. His minions have also used the Tanooki Leaves to gain flying and spinning powers. Mario then sets off to save the day once more.


Despite the name, this has nothing to do with the Game Boy game or that series as a whole beyond being a part of the same overall franchise.

A Wii U sequel with 4-player co-op multiplayer, Super Mario 3D World, was released in November 2013, followed by an Updated Re-release titled Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury for the Nintendo Switch in February 2021.

This game provides examples of:

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  • Actually a Doombot: The False Bowsers in the World 1 and 5 Castles. They can be told from the real deal by their Tanooki tails.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: Giant Cosmic Clones seen in the special worlds.
  • A.I. Breaker: If Mario stomps on Pom-Pon while she's in her shell and still on the ground, she'll keep trying to rise up and hit him, but fail and just push him up farther. Since this counts as a stomp, it's entirely possible to get five extra lives every time she rises back up.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Inverted. Like in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mario and Luigi lose their hats once you hit the lives cap.
  • Anti Poop-Socking:
    • After playing for a while, a message comes up reminding to take regular breaks.
    • The most convenient methods of finding more power ups are the Mystery Boxes, which refresh daily, or the Toad Houses, which are only restocked outside of getting a Game Over by going outside and finding Streetpass hits.
  • Arc Symbol: The Tanooki tail, seen on the logo, many of the enemies, and even false Bowsers.
  • Art Shift:
    • The pictures Mario receives throughout the game resemble the drawn artwork of the early Mario games, notably from Super Mario Bros. 3 onwards.
    • For the levels, some of them are made entirely out of colored cardboard, and one is made out of wooden planks and blocks.
  • Aside Glance: Bowser makes one right before the ground beneath him and Mario breaks before the final battle.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: Now with 3D areas! This game handles the traditional auto scroll a little differently: You are no longer "pushed" by the boundary; you can go past it. But once you're offscreen long enough, the game considers you dead.
  • Bag of Sharing: When switching between Mario and Luigi, each retains the active and held power-up the other had.
  • Battle Boomerang:
    • Mario gets to wear Boomerang Bro equipment as a power-up.
    • This is Pom Pom's Weapon of Choice.
  • Battle Theme Music: The game only has three bosses, but each of them has their own theme, with Bowser gaining a second theme based on Orchestral Bombing for the final battle.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Peepa, a new type of ghost that appears alongside the standard Boos. They mostly appear in groups, but tend to move around less than Boos.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Ghost House levels make an appearance as can be expected. World 4-4 is the first one, followed by World 6-3, World 8-4, Special World 4-2, Special World 5-5, and Special 6-5.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy:
    • Bowser keeps up the tradition of installing devices in his castles that are specifically designed to ensure his downfall. In this game's case, they're bridge-destroying buttons with his insignia on them that dump him into searing lava, similarly to the axes from the original game.
    • In an unintentional example, Bowser never bothers to see that Mario can easily just walk on the railings of the bridge that can easily collapse with a press of a button.
  • Bottomless Pits: Everywhere. It's not even justified this time; a majority of the stages are virtually just a set of platforms floating in midair for no real reason.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Many of the special levels are extremely challenging, especially S-8 Crown, which rivals the Grandmaster Galaxy in overall toughness (though at least you can take damage and bring a back-up item in this one).
  • Bubbly Clouds: Not one single world but one level World 5-5. In addition this is the first time we see Coin Heavens appear in 3D.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: World 6-2 is a pyramid level.
  • Cap: The maximum number of lives one can carry is 1,110.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Cardboard cutouts of enemies and power-ups appear frequently throughout the game, most often to fool you into thinking it's the real thing. When you finally "defeat" the real Bowser, you find Peach stranded atop a castle. Or so it seems...
  • Clockworks Area: Some levels take place in a Clock Tower.
  • Co-Dragons: Boom-Boom and Pom-Pom.
  • Convection Schmonvection: In addition to the series' usual use of this trope, one of the game's levels (specifically, S2-3) has water coming from a lava pit.
  • Copy-and-Paste Environments: The majority of Special World levels are repeats of earlier levels, but with harder enemy/platform placements, shorter time limits, Cosmic Mario chases, etc.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Mario and the Toads all using Tanooki Suits to fly Peach back to the castle. It's a double moment in that Tanooki Suits couldn't fly that far originally, even if Mario skipped all the stages, and the suit's flight abilities aren't available in this game.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Exploited. The Flip-Swap platforms from Super Mario Galaxy 2 are back, and they now activate whenever Mario jumps.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Peach, of all people. As the photographs you get during the course of the game show, while she doesn't actually succeed in escaping from Bowser and his army, she certainly isn't above trying to kick some Goomba ass in her attempts to escape.
  • Dark Reprise: The Power-Up fanfare gets a minor chord version that plays in the cutscene showing the Goombas using the Magic Leaves.
  • Death Mountain: World 5-1 is the only mountain themed level in the game.
  • Death Throws: As usual in 2D Mario titles, Mario does this when he loses a life. This is a rare example of this trope occurring in a game on a 3D plane.
  • Dem Bones: Per Mario tradition, Dry Bones are recurring enemies in castle levels. Dry Bowser from New Super Mario Bros. returns in a special world.
  • Depth Deception: Seen in some secret areas.
    • Notably, the game makes the otherwise ornamental 3D feature an actual gameplay mechanic. Playing with the 3D off puts you at a disadvantage.
    • Sometimes cardboard cutouts of various things appear just to screw with you.
  • Developers' Foresight: Much like Super Mario 64, you're forbidden from exiting courses (even the ones you've beaten) when you're in midair, thereby terminating the age-old trick of exiting the course right before you fall to your doom.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Boom Boom got one named Pom Pom. She wields a boomerang and has a counterattack that involves trying to smash Mario with her shell instead of just spinning around the room like Boom Boom.
  • Distressed Dude: After beating the game, a picture falls down in W1-1, revealing that Luigi has been imprisoned in the first special world's castle. Upon beating that level, you get to play as him.
  • Dual Boss: Boom Boom and Pom Pom in World 7-Airship. And again in the secret final level.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The Tanooki Suit, by virtue of being able to slow descent, frequently allows major shortcuts to be made. The biggest one is in 7-1, which can be finished in 5 seconds!
  • Easter Egg:
    • A very similar figure to the infamous Hell Valley Sky Trees from Super Mario Galaxy 2 appears at the end of every ghost house if the players waits for some time near the flagpole. The creepy thing is that unlike the Hell Valley Sky Trees, it appears just behind the fence rather than far away, bears a striking resemblance to Slenderman, and silently screams at you before it disappears.
    • Another Easter Egg is a UFO that can be seen if you look into the binoculars in World 1-3 and quickly look to the top-right.
  • Eternal Engine: World 7-3 takes place inside a giant clock and Special World 7-4 is just a harder version.
  • Excuse Plot: A Mario platformer staple. Some Call Me Johnny summed this game's plot up best: "It was a dark and stormy night... Bowser kidnaps Peach..."
  • Extended Gameplay: Eight challenging bonus worlds in addition to the eight normal ones.
  • Fake Longevity:
    • Having to complete a stage again if you just want a power up, which becomes a problem if you're in a level that requires the Super Leaf to get a Star Medal, and the level doesn't have any (it's either that or Save Scumming).
    • Having to complete the full game all over again with Luigi just to get one of the five starsnote  and unlock the final level, Special World 8-Crown.
    • Many levels require the extra jumping power you get from a Tanooki or Statue Leaf in order to hit the very top of the flagpole, to get the golden flag bonus. Reached the end without one? Have fun playing through the entire level again! This is especially annoying in boss levels.
  • Fireballs: The Fire Flower's first (permanent) 3D outing puts a spin on its fireballs' bouncy nature by having them ricochet off walls continuously until it either fizzles out or hits an enemy.
  • Floating Platforms: Many. Some are still, some move, some ride on floating rails.
  • Forced Perspective: Isometric Projection puzzles employ this.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the collectible photos depicts something that will happen in Super Mario 3D World. In the photo, Princess Peach dresses in a Tanooki Suit. So are the Toads, but they can be seen like this throughout the Special World portion of the game. The developers even had 3D World in mind during development of 3D Land! Though the final Tanooki Peach isn't wearing a dress, but a suit with very puffy pants.
  • Futile Hand Reach: Peach at the end of the Disc-One Final Dungeon, with the most gratuitous use of the 3D effect in the game.
  • Genre Throwback: To classic 2D Mario games, especially Super Mario Bros. 3. However, there are references to other games, such as Bowser and his duplicates being defeated in a similar fashion to Super Mario Bros. (as well as the fact that there are fake Bowsers in the first place) and the bonus-granting musical notes occasionally playing the main level music from Super Mario World when collected.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: The (False) Bowser battles in this game work little more than segments of the level in which each one tries to kill Mario as he gets to the end of the stage.
  • Golden Super Mode: White Tanooki Mario, available in a level after five or more lives have been lost. Using it renders Mario and Luigi invincible against enemies, but it also eliminates the shimmering effect of the stars earned in the file selection menu.
  • Goomba Stomp: Unlike every other 3D Mario platformer, this is your only means of attack in this game when not powered up, just like the Mario games of old.
  • Green Hill Zone: World 1-1 of course. Along with that is World 2-1, World 8-2, and Special World 1-1.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot:
    • Boom Boom and Pom Pom. Boom Boom's regular attack is to spin around with his fists out like a tornado; Pom Pom shoots out boomerangs instead.
    • Inverted with their shell attacks. Boom Boom blasts his shell at you like a cannonball, and Pom Pom ascends into the air and crashes down on you.
  • Hard Mode Filler: The special worlds contain mostly redone versions of the main game's stages, with a few of the main stages being used for more than one special stage. The special worlds do have a few original levels of their own, though.
  • Infinite 1-Ups:
    • A 1-up trick was actually discovered five months before the game's release. It's the classic Koopa Shell Bounce.
    • Another way is to jump on Pom-Pom's head, and then just stay on her shell as she raises up in the air to try and hit you. You'll keep bouncing on it until she switches to her other attack, thus, gaining many one ups.
  • Interface Screw: There are black Piranha Plants which spit ink at the screen.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The Super Star, as in every Mario game.
  • Leitmotif: 3D Land's main theme is a rearranged homage to Super Mario Bros. 3's main theme.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Of course many of the castle levels feature deadly lava.
  • Level Ate: World 3-5 and Special World 5-4.
  • Level in Reverse: The special stages often use the regular stage geometries, played backwards in comparison to the originals.
  • Lost Woods: Once again not a single world but a few scattered levels: World 4-1, World 7-3, and Special World 3-3.
  • Make My Monster Grow: The last two Special worlds have huge Cosmic Clones.
  • Mercy Mode: Die five times in a row in a level and you get an invincible Tanooki Suit. Die five times more and you get a P-Wing, which skips the level from where you use it. (And any bosses in the stage, as well.) However, just as in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, having this block show up removes the sparkles from the stars on your save file, whether or not you use it. Fortunately, if you beat the game without making the block appear, it won't ever show up (even in the Special worlds), thus making the sparkles permanent.
  • Mind Screw: One of the Isometric puzzle levels appears to be an Escher-esque impossible shape.
  • Musical Gameplay: A few levels in the game have appearing and disappearing platforms that are synchronized to the beat of the music.
  • Musical Nod: One level has the main theme in the key of B-flat, the same key as the music and sounds in the original arcade versions (as opposed to the later NES versions) of Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, and Mario Bros. (but not Donkey Kong 3).
  • Musical Spoiler: In World 8's final castle, after exploding a bridge that Bowser was standing on, he falls down... and the boss music continues playing, revealing that Bowser's not done yet.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A rather subtle one to the original Super Mario Bros.; when you get an extra life while at 999, instead of maxing there, it reads "Crown"-00, a reference to how a glitch/oversight in the original SMB made it display a crown with various symbols after it upon exceeding 9 lives.
    • In the final Bowser battle, during one section of it, he throws barrels at Mario, similar to Mario's debut game: Donkey Kong.
  • Nerf:
    • The Tanooki Suit no longer grants you flight or lets you transform into stone. It only slows your fall (as it did in Super Mario Bros. 3; Luigi had a similar ability in Super Mario 64 DS) and lets you attack with your tail. However, a variation of the suit found late in the game does let you turn into a statue, but aside from the addition of a Scarf Of Ass Kicking the other features are about the same.
    • Mario himself has been nerfed. The power of all his jumps have been reduced (compared to the devs' previous titles, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2) to accommodate the 3DS's small screen. He doesn't even have the Triple Jump anymore.
    • Oddly, while Luigi received the same Nerfs as Mario, he also got buffed! Now, he doesn't slide around as much when stopping anymore, meaning he is a true Lightning Bruiser.
  • No One Could Survive That!: The real Bowser is still ready to fight even after getting hit in the true final standard level.
  • Nostalgia Level: World 2-3 has several 3D shapes based on classic Super Mario Bros. power-ups. Special World 1-3 is just a harder version.
  • Now Do It Again Backwards: S8-1 starts you at what was originally the end of W1-2.
  • Painting the Medium: Ink-spitting Piranha Plants will spit globs of goop and if it hits the screen, it'll produce black stains that'll obscure your vision. You can make the stains go away early by blowing into the microphone.
  • Palmtree Panic: Worlds 6-1, S1-4, and S4-3.
  • Piñata Enemy: This game introduced the Coin Coffer, a frog-like walking change purse that releases ten coins when defeated. In Super Mario 3D World, they're invisible and must be revealed by the Game Pad.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Pom-Pom's battle arenas have a pink motif, and Pom-Pom herself is magenta-colored. Also in the Boom-Boom/Pom-Pom double battles, Boom-Boom's area is blue and Pom-Pom's is red.
  • Poison Mushroom: They make a return in the Special Worlds.
  • Power Copying: Some enemies will drop power-up items when defeated. Giant Mooks drop Mushrooms, Tail Goombas will drop Super Leaves, Venus Fire Traps can drop Fire Flowers, and Boomerang Brothers will drop Boomerang Flowers.
  • Power-Up: Well, it's a Mario game, but there's some things of note.
    • Notably, the Tanooki Suit returns after decades of absence, and unlike in Super Mario Galaxy the Fire Flower functions as it did in the 2D games instead of lasting temporarily.
    • Remember the boomerang weapon from the e-Reader levels of the Mario Advance version of Super Mario Bros. 3? It's Boomerang Suit form. In addition, this time it can be carried between levels.
    • Super Mario, simply called Mario in this game, is no longer a power up, it's now his default form. This change makes Small Mario a Power Down.
  • Recurring Boss: Throughout the game you fight Fake Bowser twice (World 1 and World 5), Boom-Boom three times (World 2, World 3 and World 7) and Pom-Pom three times (World 4, World 6 and World 7). In World 8 you fight the real Bowser twice. The special worlds add Dry Bowser and Giant Cosmic Clones, that also become this.
  • Remilitarized Zone: Airships end a few of the worlds, notably Worlds 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 along with Special Worlds 2, 3, 4, and 6.
  • Remixed Level: The entirety of the Special Quest consists of levels from the first quest that are re-done to be a lot more challenging.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The game is notably the first 3D Mario platformer that heavily incorporates the mechanics of the 2D games.
  • Rolling Attack: Mario gains one here by crouching then tapping the dash button again while running, but it's not much of an attack. It'll affect blocks and break wooden cutouts and crates, but rolling into an enemy will only cause harm to yourself. So in combat situations, it's more of an evasive maneuver. You can also slightly extend your long jump by jumping right after rolling.
  • Save the Princess: Would it be a main series Mario without it?
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Distinguishes the Tanooki suit that can turn into a statue versus the one that can't.
  • Scenery as You Go: Happens in some ghost houses. Platforms in front of you appear as you walk along, and disappear when you move away from their starting point.
  • Sentient Sands: Sandmaarghs are a variant of Blarggs, a type of vaguely dinosaur-like monsters made out of lava and found in fire-themed levels, that are instead made out of sand and found in desert-themed levels.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Not necessarily found only in World 2 the first desert stage is World 3-1 followed by World 5-1, and lastly World 6-2 which is a Pyramid stage.
  • Ship Level: Worlds 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 and well as Special Worlds 2, 3, 4, and 6 end with an airship.
  • Shout-Out: Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the The Legend of Zelda franchise, World 5-2 is laid out as a typical 2D Zelda dungeon, using elements such as a Top-Down View, Flip-Screen Scrolling, and familiar obstacles like spiked rollers. It even has a "light all the torches to open the door" puzzle complete with the iconic "puzzle solved" jingle! It gets even better when you realize that since the previous level introduces the Battle Boomerang powerup, you'll probably enter the level armed with a weapon that Link is famous for using.
  • Shows Damage: When you take a hit and turn into Small Mario, his cap goes missing. This is to allow you to tell what state of health you're in when the camera goes above Mario. Reaching the Cap of your lives (which is 1,110) reverses this situation: Normal Mario is capless and Small Mario dons the headwear.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Some levels in the Special World begin with 30 seconds on the timer, and in one variation, require you to defeat enemies in order to extend the timer (in the other, you collect watch powerups). How does the game inform you of this? At the start of the level, Mario lands on a Goomba, and gets an extension to the timer.
  • Significant Anagram: The number of the Zelda-themed level is 5-2, which is 25 backwards. Super Mario 3D Land (2011) celebrates the 25th anniversary of Zelda.
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: In the spirit of the 2D Mario games, it is Level 2. The level design is based on an A-to-B progression, and the levels themselves have to be completed in order as well. However, there are some occasional detours to grab hidden Star Medals, and nearly all Special Worlds allow their levels to be completed in any order.
  • Sliding Scale of Visuals Versus Dialogue: Way over on the visuals side; this game has no dialogue text whatsoever. This is remarkable as it's the first 3D Mario platformer to not have any.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Scattered about in the forms of World 3-4, World 6-5, Special World 2-4, and Special World 7-1.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: Subverted. After defeating Bowser for good, he begins a slow-motion fall into the lava below...before getting hit with a giant slab o' rock and turning back to real-time.
  • Snowy Sleigh Bells: Snow Land, the theme that plays in icy areas, is a very upbeat wintery track, and sleigh bells are the only percussions than are used.
  • Socialization Bonus: You can receive Mystery Boxes and Toad Houses from other players via StreetPass.
  • Speed Run: Your best time is recorded when you clear a level, as is the best time recorded by any player you've StreetPassed, so players can compare their runs with other people. In the Special worlds, some levels start with only 30 seconds on the clock, forcing you to quickly blaze through the levels and kill enemies to add seconds to the clock.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Super Mario Bros. 3, both in gameplay (the primary focus is the use of the Tanooki Suit) and in visuals (many of the levels' assets are modeled after those of the 2D levels in the 1988 game). The name is also a reference to Super Mario Land and its sequel, which were Mario's first portable adventures.
  • Story Overwrite: It doesn't matter what form you clear the final level as — Mario will always start out in the ending credits as Super Mario.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: The first 3D Mario platformer to incorporate such, actually.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: The "3D" in the game's name refers both to the use of stereoscopic 3D visuals, and the system that supports the game itself (Nintendo 3DS).
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Coin Coffer enemy is basically a more cartoonish, Mario-like design for the Moneybags in Super Mario 64.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Bowser, as always, seems to only fight in an arena that so happens to have the necessary tools to defeat him. Particularly bad in the final battle - if he didn't destroy a particular wall with a tail swipe, you wouldn't be able to reach the switch to defeat him.
  • Taken for Granite: The Statue Leaf lets you transform into stone at will. You can't move while in the form, but you can change back at will.
  • Tanuki/Kitsune Contrast: Referenced by Luigi's unique Super Leaf/Stone Leaf transformation; rather than gain a brown tanuki suit like his older brother upon picking up either power-up, Luigi instead gets the gold-furred suit of a fox.
  • Tech Demo Game: As the Killer App for the 3DS, the game takes as much advantage of the 3D effects as possible, featuring many optical illusion rooms that use Depth Deception that can easily be seen through with 3D on, and many sequences in which Mario is high up and the camera moves up above Mario to emphasize the height.
  • Technicolor Fire: Bowser and Mario both have red-orange fire. In the second half of the final battle, Bowser gets blue-purple fire that makes a jet-engine scream as it goes by. Dry Bowser has eldritch blue fire.
  • Temporary Platform: This game brings back donut blocks, which slowly fall before disappearing after being stepped on (there are also stone platforms with identical function), and there's a new variant of Beat Blocks that come in sets of three colors, have a variety of shapes, and have different sequence patterns depending on the level.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Mario hums the classic theme music after receiving the picture between Worlds 5 and 6.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: Bowser has apparently taken advice from his rival's other rival and utilized this trope for a phase in the Final Battle.
  • True Final Boss: After defeating Dry Bowser in Special World 8, Bowser will kidnap Peach a second time, requiring the player to fight him in regular World 8 once again.
  • Underground Level: What's a Mario game without them? This time around World 1-2, World 2-2, World 4-2, World 5-4, Special World 1-2, and Special World 8-2.
  • Under the Sea: Naturally for a Mario game the first is World 3-2, followed by Special World 2-2.
  • Unlockable Content:
    • Clear the first special world to play as Luigi.
    • Clear both the main and special worlds with both brothers, get all the gold flags, and collect all the Star Medals to unlock a special level in Special World 8 that'll surely test your platforming prowess.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can throw fireballs at the Toad in the Toad House. And he gave you a power-up, too. You can also make him spin with the Tanooki Tail, but he likes the feeling.
  • A Winner Is You: Your reward for completing the nightmarishly difficult S8-"crown" level? A simple "thank you" message.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The earlier Bowser's Castle levels have the decency to inform you with binoculars that you're not going to be finding the princess in this castle. And then there's the first one in World 8 which leads you to believe you're going to save the princess only for it to turn out to be a cardboard cutout - you still have two more levels to go. And even then, saving Peach turns out to be only the end of the first half of the game.


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