Mario’s 35th anniversary has consisted mostly of re-releases of the classic titles many of us know and love. The recent re-release of Super Mario 3D World had a bonus included though - Bowser’s Fury. It’s an extra game mode that is unrelated to 3D World, starring Mario and – of all people – Bowser Jr.
In terms of story, there really isn’t that much. Bowser has been overtaken by evil goop (reminiscent of Super Mario Sunshine), and Bowser Jr goes to Mario for help saving his dad. It’s such an odd team, but I’m a sucker for hero-villain team-ups. So the premise already is really fun and different to the usual ‘Peach gets kidnapped’ trope which 3D World also subverted. It also allows Bowser Jr to be used as a player 2, similar to Galaxy’s Co-Star.
The gameplay is an interesting mix of 3D World and Odyssey, which are pretty different games in their own right. Lake Lapcat is a more open world that you’d expect to see in Odyssey, and it is littered with Cat Shrines that Mario must collect to beat Fury Bowser. Each sub-area has 5 Cat Shrines with some hidden extras between the many islands too.
Where 3D World comes in is its more conventional power-up system; Odyssey, like all the 3D games except 3D World, utilised a life system, with Mario never becoming Small Mario like in the 2D games. Bowser’s Fury brings back the classic system, making for a mix between the open 3D games and the 2D style. This works so well that it makes you wonder why it’s never been done before.
One power-up makes Bowser’s Fury stand out, however, and that’s the Giga Bell. This transforms Mario into his Giga Cat form, which is a gigantic Super Saiyan cat. At this size he can literally punch Bowser in massive Godzilla-like battles. In a Mario game. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and I love it. The battles themselves can get a bit repetitive towards the end, but for the first few fights I was genuinely laughing.
I had concerns about the length of this mode, thinking that it would only last an hour or two. Having played to 100% completion, I can say it’s not the longest of Mario’s adventures, but there’s more meat on the bones than I initially thought. If you blitz through everything, I could see it taking maybe 4 hours, but I enjoyed exploring so much that it took me around 6 hours. When I got stuck I used a walkthrough, so if you avoid those it could take slightly longer. There’s only a few really hidden Cat Shrines though, so the mode isn’t too difficult.
My main complaint about Bowser’s Fury is the final boss battle. I found it pretty lacking considering the battles before it. It was just tedious, and then having to do it again for 100% completion was a bit annoying. There’s other boss battles thrown in too, but two of them are blatant repetitions of the most repeated boss battles from 3D World, though there’s a final Boom Boom fight with spikes that is at least mildly challenging compared to the original. Again though, it’s a pretty easy adventure all-around, which I don’t mind too much for a bonus mode.
Overall, Bowser’s Fury is a fantastically charming – if brief – adventure that is more than a welcome surprise in an already fantastic game. If you enjoyed 3D World and were considering double dipping for Bowser’s Fury (which I did), I couldn’t recommend it enough. If a future Mario game is like this but bigger, I’d be thrilled.