Much like the recent New Super Mario Bros. games, Super Mario 3D World contains local co-op play for up to four players. Other players can drop in anytime, and can use just about any input device that'll work with the WiiU, such as Pro Controllers, Wiimotes, and even the old Classic Controller. This time around, the levels are designed with four players in mind, giving a lot more breathing room to everybody running around. This isn't to say that the game is free of player collision, but it's not the sole method of player interaction.
Since all of the characters have slightly different abilities, it makes for a slightly more interesting version of the standard Mario co-op. Some out of the box thinking can make grabbing secret Stars easier, such as picking up the Princess and throwing her for a distance before she floats, which covers a much further distance than you could normally. Certain levels have pressure plates that require a specific number of characters to stand on them, which can open up shortcuts or other secrets.
As is the norm, the players are all leashed to a single screen, but the camera will pan back pretty generously to keep players on-screen. If a player goes off-screen, they'll get put into the now-familiar bubble and brought back to whoever is deemed to be in the lead. If a player makes an area transition such as entering a Mystery Box or Pipe, all other players will be warped to their position and brought along. That can be slightly annoying, but all it takes is a little communication to overcome.
Make no mistake, while it's the best implementation of Mario co-op so far, the game retains its competitive edge. Whether it's racing against your fellow players in the Mario Kart stage, lording over who gets to wear the crown at the end of a level, or simply trolling your friends into eating a death, there's plenty of reasons to enjoy punching your friends in the shoulder for their antics.
Super Mario 3D World is the finest Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy, and in my opinion, is the best major release of the fall season. While Nintendo still has a little more honing to do on the co-op play, it's getting a lot more fun. If you have a WiiU, you absolutely should not pass this game up.
The Co-Op Experience: Up to 4 players can work together or compete for the crown in the first multiplayer 3D Mario game for the Wii U console. In the Super Mario 3D World game, players can choose to play as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach or Toad each with their own unique power.
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