Super Mario 3D World stands out for using a largely fixed camera and levels that are more semi-3D than the totally open spaces in Super Mario Odyssey or Super Mario Galaxy. There are still many items to grab and secrets to uncover across the characteristically charming, brisk and inventive stages — but everything you can find at a given moment is right in front of you, which encourages you to look closer and move from foreground to background.
Co-op play can be chaotic, but 3D World owns that. You and up to three buddies share lives but are scored on your individual performance, with the leader receiving a literal crown at the end of each level. This makes for a sort of competitive co-op mode, one in which a devious “teammate” could straight-up grab you and chuck you off a cliff in an attempt to secure their high score. The adventure only has to be as spicy as you and your partners want it to be, though; if you aren’t playing with a group of sickos, 3D World should be an exciting update to a familiar Mario formula.
We’ll also shout out Super Mario Bros. Wonder, the latest 2D Mario game. That one supports local multiplayer too, but its camera is a bit too zoomed-in, which can make it harder for players of different skill levels to stay on screen at once. It’s a great platformer and still a decent co-op experience, but it feels designed for solo play first and foremost.