The undeniable star of this morning’s Nintendo Direct, the awkward monthly-ish internet show from the Big N, was the new trailer for the upcoming Super Mario 3D World. Only time will tell if this promise makes it to the actual game, which will come to the Wii U in November, but this clip has all the energy, imagination, and quirk that has been missing from recent Mario games—with the exception of 3D World’s predecessor, Super Mario 3D Land.
Let’s start from the top. In what feels like bald-faced mockery of those recent lackluster Mario adventures, the trailer opens with a scene drenched in their saccharine sheen. The sugary staccato music underscores Mario and friends’ discovery of a fairy who probably belongs to a forgotten race of beings who somehow hold the fate of the world in their tiny, shimmering hands—because this is a Mario game. Then, with a cymbal crash and classic big band drums backing him up, Bowser shows up and kidnaps the thing. That drum beat, and the fantastic big band tune that follows, never lets up and propels us through scene after scene of weird, new Mario ideas.
A few stray observations: Mario can turn into a cat and stalk rabbits. Mario can inhabit the hollowed-out corpse of a goomba and chill with other goombas. Mario can pick up cherries that cause him to split into multiple simultaneously-controlled Marios. Mario can bobsled around in a giant ice skate (which Derrick Sanskrit has already dubbed “Kuribo’s Ice Skate”). Mario can harness the power of piranha plants for his own use. Bowser has a really sweet car. And the craziest revelation of all: In this bold new 3D world, traditional mushroom-looking goombas co-exist with the weird chestnut-looking goombas from Super Mario World. Now that’s just not natural.