A family member walked into the room while I was deeply engrossed in a two-player session of Super Mario 3D World the other day. He asked, “So, what genre of game is this?” The fellow in question is a lapsed gamer – he hasn’t played much since the original Command and Conquer games – so the question was a fair one. After some thinking and some sputtering, I answered, “This is a Mario game.”
“Mario’s a genre?”
“Well…yeah. Yeah I guess it pretty much is at this point.”
Mario games – the core ones, not the Strikers or the Parties or the Karts – have carved enough of a niche for themselves that the fundamentals are firmly established. Anyone reading this website knows what to expect from a mainline Mario game by this point; the pedigree is pristine, and the precedents are set about as high as any in the medium. So the question isn’t whether Super Mario 3D World is any good. The question is more like, in what ways is this game spectacular? And the answer to that question is: in basically all the ways that a videogame can be.