If you get Super Mario 3D World for the Switch, it comes packed in with a little gem called Bowser’s Fury. We at GHG are reviewing this gem as a standalone since I’m waiting on a group of friends to enjoy 3D World to the fullest. It’s cool to have this little addition to somewhat justify a $60 price point for a re-released game and to have a single player experience included…
Bowser’s Fury mixes up the Mario 3D formula by making it open world. Perhaps this was a test to see how a mainline open world 3D Mario game would be received. I think it worked well, although it’s not necessary. Simply a cool way to keep the formula fresh.
Despite being open world it’s still very contained as there’s only 100 cat shines which are like the stars, moons, or suns in other 3D Mario games. You can approach cat shines at any order but you do need to earn a certain amount to unlock other areas in the open world. Once you unlock every piece of the map, you can travel in between each area at any order you wish. When you get a handful of cat shines in a specific area you unlock a lighthouse warp point for fast travel. This open world freedom feels convenient since you can move on from an area if you’re stuck and just keep the flow going. Then when you go back to clean up it’s pretty seamless because the map provides markers for cat shines and a check mark for the ones you completed. When you enter an area, the HUD will show you how many cat shines are in that specific area. Navigating the open world and collecting all 100 cat shines is a fun treat.
Well, it’s only a treat until Bowser rises into Fury, which is kind of like when the blood moon rises in Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You can see a spikey ball of black goop slowly rising above the water, ready to erupt an angry, bad ass looking, Fury Bowser who looks like he was taken over by the symbiote. In these moments you need to hide behind cover or try to go for the cat shines while he shoots out lasers, drops fire balls, and jumps to wherever he can get a good angle and destroy you. The more cat shines you collect, the more powerful Fury Bowser becomes and the longer he sticks around to make your cat shine hunt more difficult.
As annoying as it can get, you’ll sometimes need him to blast special Fury Bowser blocks to get certain cat shines. As Fury Bowser slowly rises, the music subtly changes to feel more ominous and when he’s finally summoned and in full Fury, cool head-banging music will play. As expected in Mario games, the music score always fits the environment, and Fury Bowser added a cool mix to the score.
Ironically enough, you team up with Bowser Jr. to help his dad become free from the black goop that’s making him even more evil than before. Bowser Jr. fights with a paint brush and can help you clear enemies. Another player can control Bowser Jr. if you want a co-op experience but if you’re playing solo, you can pick how much you want Junior to help. Bowser Jr. is effective in helping Mario with crowd control and booping enemies that are too high for Mario to reach. He will likely clear enemies in your vicinity without prompt, but you can also direct him to where you need. He’s even helpful in revealing secrets like invisible blocks!
Sticking to gameplay, Mario is given an arsenal of six transformations:
· Super Bell – Cat Mario to claw, pounce, and climb walls.
· Super Mushroom – Super Mario to increase size and survive a hit.
· Super Leaf – Tanooki Mario to tail attack, tail spin, and float.
· Boomerang Flower – Boomerang Mario to throw boomerangs LOL.
· Fire Flower – Fire Mario to throw fireballs.
· Lucky Bell – Same as Super Bell plus invincibility during ground pound.
Mario can hold up to five of each ability at a time and they are found around the world, within walls that Bowser Jr. can paint, or every time you collect 100 coins. Although I found use with all of them at a certain point, Super Bell was the most useful throughout my 100 cat shine journey. This makes sense considering everything in this open world is a cat. EVERYTHING!
The bushes have cat ears, trees have cat ears, even goomba’s and bullet bills have cat ears! The damn kitty bullet bills are so cute! As a cat lover, this game is a dream come true. Everything is adorable! Instead of finding baby penguins for a momma penguin, you’ll find kittens for a momma cat (and yes you can throw them off a cliff). Everything around the black goop is so colorful and each area in the open world will have different biomes (e.g. lava, grass, ice), which is pretty standard for Mario games. Aside from running around and fast travel, you can also jump on your plessie, which is a fun and quick way to travel around the water. There are things to do at almost every corner of the map and exploring is really fun. Meow!
Where things get super fun is when you have enough cat shines to activate a giga bell, which turns you into a giant Super Saiyan Kitty Mario! This is when you can finally fight Fury Bowser and chip away at his health bar, which you won’t be able to fully achieve until you get 50 cat shine’s. You can scratch away at Fury Bowser or throw pillars at him, leaving an opening for a ground pound on his belly. During these fights most of the map is dark and filled with the black goop. Fury Bowsers very last form is the strongest and as a last boss fight, I had a lot of fun with the combat shift. My only complaint is I really wanted to see Bowser with cat ears, but he was ultimately the only enemy who wasn’t blessed with such cuteness.
I don’t necessarily think 3D Mario games need to be open world, but this is surely a nice way to mix up the 3D Mario formula. Keeping the map contained with only 100 cat shines really helped the experience feel enjoyable and not over stay it’s welcome. Nintendo making everything into a cat definitely added to the enjoyment. Bowser’s Fury somehow made it to my top 5 favorite 3D Mario games along with Mario 64, and both Mario Galaxy games. I liked it more than Mario Sunshine and Mario Odyssey. 4/5 Bowser Bibles.