Hoo-hoo, it's Meowrio time! Although it may not have been the fully-fledged 3D Mario game folks were hoping for on the Wii U after all, it's no single-player opus like the Mario Galaxy games the recently announced Super Mario 3D World, an all new 3D platformer, looks to take the series to a whole new level by doing the one thing that makes almost anything better. It adds cats. Think about it Nintendogs+Cats was better when our feline friends could join in with the fun, Sonic games haven't been the same since the purple blob Big the Cat left the scene, and the only song anyone knows by Liberty X is that one that had them all wearing catsuits. In a valiant attempt to boost the sales of the Wii U, it seems Mario's set to follow in the latter's footsteps this Christmas, as he takes the plunge and squeezes himself into a cat suit for his latest game. Because it worked so well for the Hear'Say rejects, right?
Of course, Nintendo can't really keep their family-friendly image intact with a moustached Italian-American fat man in skin-tight PVC (and now we can't shake the image either), so they've instead opted for the adorable furry feline version instead. With the crew's new cat suits (not catsuits), Mario and co. can leg it around levels on all fours, sliding along the floor Maru-style and scaling walls like your living room curtains. More than just a pretty kitty, Mario and his friends can get their claws out when the going gets tough, too, letting them scratch at, or pounce on enemies, or simply race to the top of the goal post at the end of each level for a sneaky extra life. As an added bonus, at the end of each level you'll also now be given a breakdown of how many points each player contributed to the stage, adding a bit more competition to an otherwise wholly competitive affair.
Essentially a sequel of sorts to 2011's 3DS blockbuster Super Mario 3D Land, Super Mario 3D World is built off a fairly similar premise, only with the aforementioned co-op giving things a refreshing tweak - it has the same somewhere-between-2D-and-3D levels, a time limit (sigh) and even Super Mario 3D Land's trademark Tanooki flying racoon suit, if one of the trailers we saw is to be believed. In fact, there's a pretty good reason for the similarities with the recent 3DS game, as the idea for 3D World came about during the development of Mario 3D Land. Beginning to toy around with the idea of a multiplayer mode, the developers eventually decided to not include it in the handheld game, but instead spun it out into a fully-fledged Wii U title where they could do the co-op justice - and while the Wii U game may look very similar from the off, producer Koichi Hayashida assures us that this new game feels like a grand culmination of all the best ideas of 3D Mario.
While the similarly four-player New Super Mario Bros. games have Mario/Luigi/the Toads all performing in much the same way, Super Mario 3D World mixes things up a bit by giving each character their own unique abilities and talents. For example, whilst everyone's favourite portly plumber is a good all-rounder, his leaner, greener bro Luigi can leap higher, while Toad is the speediest character up for grabs Peach on the other hand is targeted squarely at beginners as she's able to hover or glide in the air for a short time, useful for avoiding falling down pits or lining yourself up for the perfect bop on an enemy's bonce.
Most likely everyone's familiar with Mario's green warp pipes, which can take you to other parts of a level but Super Mario 3D World throws in another mode of tube-based transport. Now stages are littered with see-through pipelines, filled with pickups, enemies and more, and you'll have to steer your character through them to avoid any unwanted collisions or make sure you pick up one of the three green stars that have been hidden in every stage.
Much like New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D World also makes use of the Wii U GamePad's Touch Screen, letting an extra helper join in with the fun. While the player in charge of the Gamepad most likely won't be in control of anyone directly, they will be able to freeze enemies and objects to help out their friends on the TV, and, in a really nice touch, can use the Gamepad's screen to find hidden blocks and coins in the levels - touching the screen where the block/coin is will highlight its location on the TV for everyone to see. For those of us with less than perfect analogue stick skills, there's also the option to control the game's camera with the built in gyro sensor in the GamePad - although hopefully, there'll be an option to turn this on or off.
With the also recently announced Mario Kart 8 set to miss Christmas, Super Mario 3D World is perhaps the biggest gun in Nintendo's arsenal come the end of this year and with sales of the Wii U lagging, another multiplayer Mario title may be the kick-start the console needs. Until then we have a trailer that shows off the new cat suit, as well as a couple of awesome looking levels where everyone's riding down a river on the back of a dinosaur, skating round a frozen lake and more: