Waves of childhood crashed into my ears when I started up World 3-6 of Super Mario 3D World. The music from Super Mario Kart here was a shocker to start and then they upped it with a stage design that made the stage feel like simple kart-racing. It is not so much that the stage played like Mario Kart, it did not, but the fact that it captured a feeling I had and turned it on its head. My son would not get this, and yet I think he would still enjoy the stage. Multifaceted enjoyment, children.
I wonder if someone pitched the idea of having the stage “loop” three times before it ended. That might have been too much, even though it would have been a cute nod. The more I think about that, though the less I like it. That could have quickly taken away the novelty and the quality of the stage. As is, they managed to create a heartwarming stage that will be one of the ones to stick with me after I finish SM3DW.
The others that are definitely going to stick are the boss stages. All forced-scrolling stages so far, every single one of them has managed to feel different enough while taking the ideas of the lead-up stages to Bowser’s castle in Super Mario Bros. 3. They are different enough to not feel like they are ripping off or just remaking it out of the hopes of getting work done quickly by using older ideas, but instead taking something interesting and making it work in the world again.
Which is something that Mario games can afford to do since the background is so rich. Making calls to non-platformer Mario games, though, may not be as common and yet manages to make World 3-6 an immensely pleasant surprise.