Super Mario 3D World: who’s the boss?

Scott: What’s in that huge castle!? I want to know, but as you can see I need 130 green stars to unlock the super Bowser castle and I only have 114. I guess I need to go grind stars. Do I go back to world one or two? Should I try some of those harder levels I powered through just to get to the end? Is it time to finally figure out what the heck is going on with those Captain Toad levels? Ugh.

Tom: Obviously, I’m better than you at Super Mario 3D World, because at this point I have 124 stars. Of course, I’ve done all the Captain Toad levels as I found them; I enjoy the change of pace of solving a jumpless puzzle that I can turn around in my hands. But, yeah, it’s kind of a dick move to drop a “you shall not pass” in our way this late in the game. With the exception of a few optional levels, I thought I was ahead of the green star curve!

After the jump, what’s in the castle.

Scott: You actually figured out those Toad levels on your own? I had to youtube one of them. Well, maybe two. Boss battles in Super Mario 3D World always occur at the end of a world. You cannot advance until you defeat the boss. Mini Boss battles spring up now and again, and sometimes a stealth boss will jump you as you’re moving from world to world. But for all the inventive and inspired stuff Nintendo packs into the levels, the boss battles are seriously lacking. One issue is that they’re only a token challenge.

Tom: Actually, that’s one of my favorite things about the boss battles in Super Mario 3D World. Capcom has fooled every other game maker but Nintendo into thinking that boss battles have to be difficulty spikes. Why? Why can’t a boss battle just be some big simple dumb affair, a dash of spectacle on the way to the rest of the game? Why does a boss battle have to be some sort of test of skill?

Scott: Another problem with the boss battles is that, for some reason, Nintendo has only thought up a few, which they keep recycling.

Tom: I’m totally with you on this. So much content in the world at large, but a few too few boss levels to keep from repeating them regularly? Even the miniboss levels repeat regularly. But surely we’ll get some cool unique bosses this late in the game. Do you have your 130 stars yet?

Scott: I’m ready to unlock the super Bowser castle. As I enter Bowser’s Lava Lake Keep everything is leading up to this being the final confrontation. After a fairly easy level of jumping over lava pits, and avoiding rotating flame traps I come to a gigantic set of steps. It reminds me of the final confrontation with Gozer.


At the top of the steps Bowser appears driving the same car he was driving at the end of world one. In fact, the boss battle is basically the same boss battle. Bowser chucks soccer ball bombs at you while you try and kick them back.


The only difference this time? He spits lava and every so often you have to jump over a chasm and avoid a spike trap. Oh! And if you somehow die (which I did quite a few times, thinking I had to jump on the soccer ball bombs instead of just run into them) you start back at the level’s halfway point. So this is Nintendo’s idea of changing up the battles? Cheap. At least when I finally manage to finish off Bowser I’m rewarded with this image:


If only a baby Bowser would have burst out of his chest. That alone would have redeemed a pretty disappointing fight. And of course the lava doesn’t kill him. Alas, there is a world 8 left to contend with. Here’s hoping the final, final battle will put a fitting cap on an otherwise stellar game.

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Up next: World Eight