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Very rarely does a game so eloquently designed and overflowing with joy come along like Super Mario 3D World. It’s not only one of the most expertly designed Mario games since Super Mario World (SNES), it’s packed with almost as many secrets. It doesn’t surpass the original World in that respect, but the number of deviously hidden secret stars and paths is stunning (and challenging).

When I was at the showcase event Nintendo held during E3 week this summer, I was entertained by Nintendo’s willingness to entertain the idea of the cat suit, not to mention put the game’s designers and producers (not excluding Miyamoto) in cat suits on stage in front of a miniature ocean of press. The air-pawing and meowing was a nice touch. But the game didn’t speak to me as much as much as I’d hoped. Not at first.

Like a lot of folks, I had my doubts that the game would be the delightful surprise that it is. And I’m a huge Mario player. I wanted desperately for the Galaxy/3D Land team to announce a Super Mario 64-esque successor with an open world and multiple stars to collect. And while 3D World doesn’t have an open world, the worlds are certainly less claustrophobic than 3D Land.

And it doesn’t hurt that there’s multiple stars to collect in every level.

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And then there’s the cat suits. Never in a Mario game have I wanted to be in a power suit so often — in fact, you pretty much want to be in the suit all the time. The powers are simply too fun, too useful, and honestly, too cute. The characters meow and make cat noises subtly and often, but not annoyingly frequently.

I adore this game. I could spend more paragraphs writing about how fun and interactive the level design is, how often the game introduces and quickly throws away ideas and mechanics, and how much happiness it’s brought me this week… but I won’t.

I’m just going to go play more of it.

But not until I finish this episode of Pawn Stars and this Blowing Rock IPA. I have a problem.

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