Nintendo’s grip on the Mario franchise combined with their desire to make a game that utilizes every facet of the Wii U’s uniqueness has come together to form a title that somehow manages to feel new and familiar at the same time. Blasphemous as it may sound to fans of the original games, Super Mario 3D World is one of the best games in the history of the Mario franchise.Nintendo has managed to grab the attention of their legacy users on Wii U with the fantastically well done re-release of Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, and there’s been plenty of fun to be had with the Super Mario and Super Luigi titles. But there’s not nearly as many unique titles as their needs to be on the system right now. As game publishers compete for attention from Sony and Microsoft fans for the next wave of consoles, Nintendo has pulled out all the stops and released a game that taps into the true power of the Wii U.Unlike Zelda, Nintendo seems to have no problem sticking the ingredients for a Mario game into a blender to just sort of watch and see what happens. The franchise has existed in so many different forms it’s hard to imagine what a Mario game that got back to its roots would even look like. If I had to guess, though, Super Mario 3D World would be it. At its core this game contains all of the elements that made the first games in the franchise great, with a 3D twist that isn’t as campy and cutesy as the Super Mario Galaxy series. Instead of focusing on short bursts of action, Mario has returned to the classic map layout to travel from level-to-level, castle-to-castle, and world-to-world in order to stop Bowser and his friends once again.Fortunately, this time you’re not rescuing Princess Peach from some painfully obvious trap. Instead, Peach is along for the ride. You get Luigi and Toad as well, and anyone who ever played Super Mario Bros 2 on the NES will immediately recognize the character layout. Luigi can jump higher than Mario, Peach can hover a bit, and Toad is basically the same as Mario during gameplay. You can choose to play the entire game as any of these four characters, or you can have friends jump in at any time to play a few levels with you. Friends can jump in using a Pro Controller or Wiimote, but it’s important that the first player have the GamePad.It’s not just a 3D world because that’s how the pixels are stacked. As the first player, how you hold the GamePad helps determine the camera angle. This is a little awkward at first, and most people will probably default back to using the right thumb stick for camera controls, but if you give it a try for a level or two it’s actually a comfortable way to play. The GamePad’s microphone and touch screen get used in several levels to control certain elements of the area you are in. Nintendo DS owners will feel right at home with most of these game mechanics.Like most Wii U games, you can play the game entirely on the GamePad if you choose. Obviously the best experience is on the TV, but it’s there if you need it. Multiplayer is different for each level, ranging from a semi-chaotic race to the finish to a mandatory co-op experience that will ruin friendships. Each level scores the individual player based on their work in the level, and the first place for each level is gifted with a crown that they get to wear in front of their friends until they get hit with something and it falls off.Unlike the previous Mario titles on the Wii U the GamePad is an active player, but that player is still responsible for triggering touch screen events for the rest of the people playing. It’s one of those things that would be a whole lot more fun if Nintendo would figure out how to support multiple GamePads on the Wii U like everything else they promised they were working on at launch. It’s not a bad experience in this configuration until the person holding the GamePad decides they could use the advantage and accidentally lets you get attacked or forgets to extend a platform to save you.There’s easily a dozen other really cool things to do in this game. Speed runs, races against your last recorded run, races against the recorded runs left by other people, Miiverse integration, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The game taps into every single Wii U resource to show off what is possible if other developers were to reach in and do the same, and it’s fantastic.As long as you’re a fan of the Mario franchise, and lets face it if you own a Wii U at this point you obviously are, Super Mario 3D World is a must have for your collection.