While having a walk in the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario, Toad and Peach, and Luigi happen on one of the many green pipes, yet a special one. A fairy, which they’ll learn is Princess Sprixie, comes out. Bowser is chasing after her, though: he kidnaps her and vanishes through the pipe. Mario and the friends of his can’t but promptly jump into the pipe, and they find themselves in the Sprinxie Kingdom, tasked with rescuing the princess.
In Super Mario 3D World, levels alternate free roaming in their three-dimensional environment with bidimensional platform action, following the manner of former 3D Mario games.
Game play is singleplayer or multiplayer, co-operative or free-for-all, up to 4 players. Available character roster consists of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad. Each of them has different statistics in terms of time needed to sprint, run speed, jumping height: traditionally, Luigi can reach by jumping areas the others can’t that way, Toad is the swiftest of all but can barely jump, Peach is rather slow but able to hover mid-air gliding over gaps that halt the others, Mario is average in all skills. Some tasks can be achieved with more ease, or only, by a character shouldering another one.
Elements characterizing Super Mario games, such as the coins, magical more-or-less-hidden stars needed to reach new levels, are here. New are the hidden stamps, in quantity of one per level, for use with posts to Miiverse. Power-ups are benefited from equally by Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad, and include in their number old classic ones such as the invincibility star and the Tanooki suit, modern ones like the Mega Mushroom and the Boomerang Flower, and new entries: the Super Bell is a cat suit: it grants more attack abilities, run speed, and agility in wall climbing, and plays a remarkable part in the game. The Double Cherry produces a clone of the avatar, so doubling attack capabilities (up to 4 Double Cherries, for a sum of 4 clones, can be used). The Goomba Mask allows proceding through level unnoticed by enemies. There are also objects, like the Propeller Box that allows flying through the air for a while, and the Skate Shoe, that eases character handling on iced areas. Characters start levels in a Super Mario status: they descend to a standard Mario status, and size, if hit; they can become huge by the Mega Mushroom on the other hand.
The gameplay presents a stress on multiplayer, continuing the trend started with New Super Mario Bros. U. Players can compete to be the first to reach the finish of levels, or team up to overcome enemies as well as puzzles. Aside from main levels, there are puzzle levels — Captain Toad levels —, and mini-challenges — Mystery Houses levels —.
The game can control by GamePad, or, as alternatives, by Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Wii Classic Controller and Wii Remote, each of the options shifting gameplay towards innovative or old-style feel.
A version of Mario Bros. dedicated to Luigi, Luigi Bros. is unlockable, as part of the celebrations for Luigi’s debut thirteenth anniversary.