Friday, October 27, 2017

Top Ten Mario Power-Ups from the 3D Games

It's an exciting day for gaming today with three huge releases all coming out at once. Along with a new Assassin's Creed and Wolfenstein, a huge gaming event in the form of a new 3D Mario releases today! In celebration of Super Mario Odyssey's launch, SuperPhillip Central looks back at past 3D Mario games to pick out the best power-ups featured inside. Speaking of Odyssey, SuperPhillip Central will have its own in-depth review in the coming week or so. Until then, check out SPC's top ten 3D Mario power-up picks and let me know which ones you agree with!

10) Boo Mushroom 

It's a great power-up to begin with as Halloween's approaching! Debuting in Super Mario Galaxy and then making a quick appearance in the sequel, the Boo Mushroom turns Mario into Boo Mario, having our hero take on the appearance of his ghastly foe from Super Mario Bros. 3 and on. With it, Mario can hover over the ground, pass through fences, and read signs posted in the Boo language. The first mission in Super Mario Galaxy featuring Boo Mario requires the red plumber to nab a Boo Mushroom to sneak into a prison where Luigi has been captured. While Boo Mario has very few elaborate uses in the context of the Galaxy games, you can't deny that Mario is just adorable in Boo form as he wears his hallmark red cap, sports his bushy mustache, and has his tongue wagging as he explores.

9) Bee Mushroom

Another Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 power-up, the Bee Mushroom first appears in the Honeyhive Galaxy, one of the few nonlinear areas in the first Galaxy game. As you might expect, this mushroom turns Mario into Bee Mario, granting him the power to fly around in the air for a limited amount of time, cling onto honeycombs, and gives him a light weight for crossing over clouds and flowers. Taking a dip into any body of water will instantly end Mario's time in bee form, and seeing as there are plenty of galaxies in both games featuring water, it takes some careful flying to remain as Bee Mario. One of my favorite Power Stars in Super Mario Galaxy is the Honeyclimb Galaxy, a miniature galaxy that is essentially an obstacle course. It requires Bee Mario to climb across honeycombs while avoiding various hazards.

8) Propeller Box

Going from the Galaxy games (but don't worry, we're not done with those just yet on this list) to the Super Mario 3D Land and World games, the Propeller Box is an orange box with two long white eyes sporting a yellow propeller on its top. When worn, the player's jumps are heightened greatly allowing them to reach platforms otherwise inaccessible or to assist in creating some second-saving shortcuts. As the player falls downward, they do so slowly while wearing the box over their head. There's a particular level in the first world of Super Mario 3D Land that takes place over multiple waterfalls where the goal is to descend downward on multiple platforms with the Propeller Box in mind. It's not only a terrific way of introducing the power-up to the player, but it's also an insanely impressive use of the Nintendo 3DS's built-in 3D effect as well.

7) Ice Flower

The Ice Flower has been seen in numerous 2D Mario games, notably the New Super Mario Bros. series. In Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, it serves a different function. For one, the Ice Flower (like the Fire Flower) is a timed use power-up, only giving the player a limited amount of time before its powers go away (the faster the jingle plays, the sooner one's time is growing close to being over with the power-up). However, while that can feel limiting, what the Ice Flower in both Galaxy games makes up for is granting Mario the power to freeze both water and lava, allowing our portly plumber to skate across the newly formed ice like Scott Hamilton in his prime. One of the coolest ah-ha moments featuring Ice Mario was when a Power Star could be seen high in the air over two waterfalls. When the solution presented itself in players' minds, Ice Mario could perform wall jumps up both waterfall faces, freezing the spots where Mario leaped off of. Very cool. Literally!

6) Metal Cap

Our first of two Super Mario 64 power-ups, the Metal Cap is found in green exclamation point boxes found in various courses of the game. Of course, Mario has to discover the location of the green switch to make these boxes solid so he could open them instead of as they were, transparent. The Metal Cap turns Mario into Metal Mario, sporting heavy movements, able to sink and march underwater, become unaffected by bursts of wind or water, and finally, brave the harsh toxic terrain of the Hazy Maze Cave. Plus, when you have this rockin' remix of the Starman theme playing as you smash your way through enemies while exploring, how can you not like Metal Mario and the cap that transformed him into a metallic tank?

5) Boomerang Flower

Mario has been able to out-hammer Hammer Bros. and out-fire Fire Bros. with the Hammer Suit and Fire Flower respectively, but he hadn't yet discover a power-up that let him face Boomerang Bros. on equal footing. That changed with the introduction of the Boomerang Flower in Super Mario 3D Land. True to its name the Boomerang Flower allows Mario to unleash boomerangs at enemies of all types, having them come shooting forth before swooping back into Mario's glove. This feature is also important as various collectibles like coins, power-ups, and Star Medals can be nabbed with Mario's boomerangs. In a sense, the boomerangs used by Mario could be seen as a precursor to Cappy in Super Mario Odyssey in how Cappy can be thrown forward and comes back to Mario while being able to collect items out of his reach. Okay, it's a stretch, but that's why I love the Boomerang Suit. Who needs to stretch when you can just throw out a boomerang?

4) Cloud Flower

Here comes my favorite power-up from Super Mario Galaxy 2, the Cloud Flower. With this power-up, Mario turns into Cloud Mario, able to be light on his feet as he spins to create platforms crafted from clouds underneath him. Up to three of these cloud platforms can appear at once before Mario has to pick up another Cloud Flower. The power-up allows players to show off their platforming creativity, performing dazzling maneuvers, shortcuts, ways to bypass areas of level, and much more with how they smartly summon their clouds. Clouds can also be affected by wind, resulting in them blowing along with the breeze to create moving platforms to increase Mario's movement distance. With the Cloud Flower equipped, Mario is also able to leap higher and fall more slowly to the ground, making for a mobile and enjoyable form of Mario which is used in some of my most loved challenges within Super Mario Galaxy 2.

3) Super Leaf

Super Mario Bros. 3 saw the debut of a lot of power-ups and suits that have since been cast to the wayside. Heck, even the ones premiering in Super Mario Bros. 3 didn't get much chance to shine within the game itself. The Tanooki Suit was one of those, a rare find in World 4 and 5 of Super Mario Bros. 3, but Nintendo more than made up for its absence in that game and ever since with Super Mario 3D Land. The entire game was built with the Tanooki Suit in mind, hence all of the enemies with Tanooki tails and even that same tail in 3D Land's logo. While changing into the Tanooki Suit made many platforming parts of Super Mario 3D Land less challenging -- since you could flap you tail to mitigate danger from falling into a pit or completely bypass portions of level -- it didn't stop 3D Land from being a ton of fun. Once the second half of the game rolled in, the ability to transform into a stone statue revealed itself, a tip of the hat to Super Mario Bros. 3's original version of the Tanooki Suit.

2) Super Bell

Moving on from Super Mario 3D Land on Nintendo 3DS to Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U, the primary power-up featured this game was the Super Bell, turning any one of its collectors into a cat. The cat versions of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and the unlockable character could prowl around on all fours, pounce, crawl up walls, and perform some seriously cool platforming moves. In a professional's hands, the Cat Suit could result in some astounding level shortcuts and insane displays of speedrunning. Climbing up a wall and going into a dive meant the opportunities were potentially limitless. Outside of speedrun fare, the Super Bell is just the cat's meow in general, making for a modern Mario game power-up that felt truly worthwhile, genuinely creative, and fun to play as after some lackluster attempts in the past. (Seriously... Turning into a rock or worse yet, a spring?)

1) Wing Cap

Super Mario 64 meant the arrival of a lot of things, but most importantly it was successfully taking gaming into a brave new world with infinite possibilities. The general reaction by anyone who played Super Mario 64 at the time of its release was being overwhelmed by a feeling of utter awe. Never before had there been such freedom in a Mario game before, and one part of Super Mario 64 that hammered that point home considerably was the Wing Cap found within red boxes within the game. That first time you take to the air and soar through the skies for red coins, and then the next when you take flight over the entirety of Bob-Omb Battlefield, it's just unbelievable. Games now have copious amounts of freedom now as open-world games are common, but back in the day, Super Mario 64 was mind-blowing, and Mario wearing the Wing Cap to explore the bright blue yonder in a full open 3D space will never leave my mind as one of my most cherished gaming memories.

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