Bowser's Fury

Bowser’s Fury might be packaged with Super Mario 3D World, but it’s very much its own game. In fact, it’s baffling that Nintendo focused so hard on marketing the Super Mario 3D World (which is a re-release) part of this collection while barely giving any attention to Bowser’s Fury (which is a brand-new Mario game).

People are legitimately confused, and they have every right to be — all of this is very confusing. So I’m going to set the record straight and explain what Bowser’s Fury actually is.

What is Bowser’s Fury?

Bowser's Fury

First off, this is a 3D Mario game in the vein of Super Mario 64. You play as Mario (and not as Bowser, as the title might lead you to believe). Mechanically, it plays very similarly to Super Mario 3D World. However, those mechanics are applied to what is being described as an open-world Mario game rather than the more linear A-to-B levels of Super Mario 3D World.

So Bowser’s Fury is an open-world Mario game then?

Bowser's Fury

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that the open-world description isn’t fully accurate but it’s probably close enough, and I want to explain what I mean by that.

So, remember how in Super Mario 64, Peach’s Castle served as an explorable overworld? Inside the castle, you would find paintings, and once you had the prerequisite number of stars, you could jump inside a painting to enter a new level.

This is a vastly reimagined version of the Super Mario Bros. 3 template, which gives you several independent levels that are connected via paths on an overworld map. The only difference is that in Peach’s Castle, you’re not tied to paths — you can explore freely (though some parts will be inaccessible until you progress deeper into the game).

In Bowser’s Fury, the separation between levels is gone. All of them now exist in a single space, without any sort of overworld. The levels themselves are now just parts of a bigger overworld. There’s even a world map now for you to reference as you explore.

Bowser's Fury

That sounds like an open world kind of, right?

Well, just like how parts of Super Mario 64 are inaccessible until you collect enough stars, parts of Bowser’s Fury don’t show up until you collect enough “Cat Shines” (which are basically just a cat-shaped analog to Mario 64‘s stars).

When you start the game, much of the world is covered in a dark goo, and you can only travel through portions of the map that have been cleaned up. As you collect Cat Shines, you power up a Giga Bell, which transforms you into a giant cat so you can fight Fury Bowser (the giant form of Bowser) in a huge King Kong vs. Godzilla-style battle.

Seriously, this part is awesome.

Bowser's Fury

Once you beat Fury Bowser, more goo is removed and a new section of the map will open up.

The world is still chunked out into levels. As you transition from one level to another, text will pop up on the screen that lets you know which part of the world you’ve entered, and it will show you your next Cat Shine objective for that chunk of land. Just like in Super Mario 64, you can revisit old stages to collect more Cat Shines, only it happens more organically now.

Bowser's Fury

This means you’ll once again spend a lot of time exploring all of the nooks and crannies of the world, going back to locations you’ve already been through to find that one collectible you missed, or to complete an objective that you skipped the last time you were here.

None of this should be new to anyone who’s played a 3D Mario game.

So does this count as an open world? I want to say not really. But the fact that everything is so interconnected now is an enticing prospect for the future of Mario. If this is the direction the next full game will take, then I welcome it with open arms. I’m sure a lot of Mario aficionados agree with me.

Is there a day-and-night cycle in Bowser’s Fury?

Bowser's Fury

This is a great question! The answer is no, but kind of.

Instead of a proper day-and-night cycle, there’s a Bowser/no-Bowser cycle. When Fury Bowser isn’t around, everything is bright and sunny. When he shows up, though, everything gets dark and stormy.

Whenever he shows up, he’ll breathe fire and get all grumpy for a bit, and then he’ll go away and the world will turn sunny once again.

I’m honestly a little disappointed that the storm is still rain (and not a blizzard) in the snowy parts of the game, but this is a pretty cool game feature regardless.

What is Bowser Jr.’s role in the game?

Super Mario 3D World Bowser's Fury

In Bowser’s Fury, Bowser Jr. asks Mario to help him change Bowser back into his regular, princess-kidnapping form instead of the enormous Fury Bowser that’s wreaking havoc on this cat-themed island archipelago.

Bowser Jr. serves as your sidekick, and he’ll help you out by collecting coins and bonking enemies and all that. If you play solo, he’s controlled by the game’s A.I., but you can get a second player to take control of him for some two-player couch co-op.

Bowser's Fury

If you don’t like this aspect of the game, or you want a reduced version of it, there are some options in the settings menu. You can set the “Help from Bowser Jr.” option to a little, a lot, or none.

So how big is Bowser’s Fury?

Bowser's Fury

There are 100 Cat Shines in total to collect. This is much smaller than Super Mario Odyssey‘s almost 1,000 moons. In fact, that’s smaller than Super Mario 64‘s 120 stars or Super Mario Galaxy‘s 121 stars.

Each level (or world chunk) is smaller than a level in any of those aforementioned games too, which means Bowser’s Fury is actually on the smaller side. In fact, people are reporting that 100% completion should only take you six hours or so.

On one hand, this is a tragedy, as the Bowser’s Fury concept deserved to be explored in a much beefier game. On the other, I’ve got more Hitman unlockables to earn, so the game’s brevity comes as something of a relief. Besides, Super Mario 3D World is on the cartridge as well, and that’s a much bigger game than Bowser’s Fury.

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