‘Bowser’s Fury’ the perfect college pastime

Mario and Bowser Jr. approach Fury Bowser. Nintendo/courtesy

Who says videogames are just for kids?

There is a clear bias towards a younger demographic for Nintendo’s Super Mario series, but that doesn’t mean that older individuals can’t get in on the fun. Whether you are an experienced gamer or a newcomer, “Bowser’s Fury,” an all-new standalone adventure included with the Switch release of 2012’s “Super Mario 3D World,” makes for an enjoyable pastime. It may not be the most exciting Mario adventure, but it is a sure-fire way for college students to kick back and unwind from their daily studies. 

“Bowser’s Fury” excels in subverting expectations, especially with its characters. Bowser is not the usual captivator but instead a captive, endlessly trapped in a corrupted form which Mario has to snap him out of by collecting Cat Shines, a new power source. Furthermore, Bowser Jr. is the game’s sidekick rather than someone familiar like Luigi or Peach. 

While off-putting, these kinds of choices give the game its creative flair and set it apart from previous titles that repeat the same damsel in distress formula over and over. However, not every idea checks out, especially Mario’s Giga Cat form, whose appearance feels so out of place compared to the dark sky, environments, and even Bowser himself. Speaking of Bowser, it was a bold and remarkable move from Nintendo to make him so threatening to the point where he looks like he belongs in a more mature game. 

Mario, in his Giga Cat form, fights Fury Bowser. Nintendo/courtesy

“Bowser’s Fury” feels less cutesy when compared to other Mario titles, which is evident by the dark color palette and noticeable lack of childlike whimsicality. It almost feels like it was made for the now-adult audience that played “Super Mario 3D World.” 

However, the cat-themed enemies and environments prevent it from being genuinely mature. Same with the gameplay, which offers relatively easy puzzles and platforming geared towards a younger demographic.

Easy gameplay has its perks, especially for college students after a long day of lectures and homework. Since there is no need to be fully cognizant, “Bowser’s Fury” works as a nighttime activity and can be relaxing after long study sessions. The ability to store items gives even the inexperienced player a leg up in the competition. 

It’s worth mentioning that “Bowser’s Fury” is a supermassive boss arena? While collecting Cat Shines, keep an eye on Bowser emerging from the depths of the ocean.  Once he’s awake, you’ll need to be on your toes or find a place to seek shelter. This arena is the most challenging and fun aspect of the game, treating the player to fire blasts, falling meteors from the sky and an epic guitar riff topping every Bowser theme ever made. 

Sadly, this encounter is short and is avoidable by obtaining a single Cat Shine from any area. Experienced gamers will appreciate that Bowser increases in difficulty as the game progresses, making his penultimate mode quite a challenge to face even with an array of items. This section won’t have stress immunity like the other sections, so it’s best to save finishing the game for a weekend with less studying and time with relatively low stress. 

Short but fast is the best way to describe “Bowser’s Fury,” as the overall game length is limited to three hours, but obtaining Cat Shines is a rapid process. A single Cat Shine takes around 15 minutes to collect, making the game perfect for breaks in-between assignments and on occasions where time may be otherwise limited. It is also very therapeutic in the sense that decent progress is accomplishable in one session. 

Mario rides Plessie, a nothosaur also referred to as a “dinosaur” by Nintendo, as he searches rapidly for Cat Shines. Nintendo/courtesy

The choice to eliminate lives as a gameplay mechanic and subtract coins upon death instead was a huge mistake. Although this applies well in “Super Mario Odyssey” as in-game currency, it does not have the same effect in “Bowser’s Fury.” It still rewards the player with an item after 100 coins, but losing them isn’t even a significant setback as there are items scattered around the map, and replenishing them consumes barely any time.

Leaving out a location where coins are spent, like an item-shop or gambling machine, was a huge oversight by Nintendo. Coins don’t feel worth collecting, even though they’re treated like a reward by the game. Removing them entirely or assigning them a new purpose would have been a better use of resources.

“Bowser’s Fury” does what it can as an add-on to Super Mario 3D World, delivering adventure, fantastic visuals, compelling characters and enjoyable platforming. However, it fails to reach its full potential and tries too hard to blend with older Mario games, thereby limiting the maximum extent of its creativity. Had “Bowser’s Fury” embraced its uniqueness, it would have stood on its own against the onslaught of 3D Mario games currently on the market.