The Paper Mario games are great, but fans have long wondered what it would be like to have a full-fledged, old school-style, Mario-driven 3D platformer with the paper look, Super Paper Mario notwithstanding. It would be especially great for PC gamers, seeing as the 3D platformer pool is shallow on their system of choice. Thankfully, indie developer DJ Coco has turned these idle wants into a reality with his fangame Paper Mario 3D Land.
As the name implies, it’s a fusion of Paper Mario‘s aesthetic with the gameplay of Super Mario 3D Land. It borrows elements from other Mario titles, especially the NES and SNES classics. The end result is a smorgasbord of Mario-style platforming that truly feels like something Nintendo themselves would’ve released.
It has all the Goomba-stomping and coin-collecting tropes that we know and love, but there are a few extra twists and turns along the way. Mario can equip a mole suit, allowing him to dig underground and bypass hazards and obstacles. You’ll find cakes which increase your attack and defense, making enemies easier to take down. Each level is populated with three green stars which will award our hero with an extra life if all are collected. These are usually located in spaces which are out of reach and require careful platforming skills, so expect a fair challenge.
In fact, the whole game itself is rather challenging in that typical Mario style; it starts off easy, but the screws are quickly tightened and it bombards you with an endless assault of bottomless pits and diabolically-placed enemies. Thankfully, each level has a checkpoint, but you’ll still find yourself staring at the game over screen every so often. Nonetheless, it’s so full of pixelated charm and wonderfully-designed levels that you can forgive any frustration it dishes out.
Download it for free here. Sorry Mac and Linux folks, this one’s Windows only. Remember to press your alt and enter keys to make it fullscreen. Check out the trailer below.