Having never played Super Mario 3D World, with it coming to the Nintendo Switch, I was eager to finally get my hands on it. Unfortunately, I still haven’t actually gotten around to playing it. Instead, I’ve been fixated on Bowser’s Fury, the special add-on that’s new to this version of the game. With a relatively open-ended approach, decent run time, and plenty to discover, this is the kind of Super Mario game I wish there were more of.

When you only have a few minutes free to play

Giant Bowser, getting ready to reign terror on the world around him

When the Switch first launched, Super Mario Odyssey was the game I spent the most time on (even more than Breath of the Wild) but it’s been a few years since I played it. If my memory serves me right, while the game was fun, I remember it feeling a bit bloated because there were many different worlds to explore. While that definitely gives the game value, I always have more fun with Super Mario games when I can play them in bursts. 

That’s why I love Bowser’s Fury. This is a single world/place with many distinct areas to explore and at your leisure. While this is not entirely open-world, as you unlock more content, you can approach each section when you want. 

The key gameplay hook here is that you need to defeat a giant sludge-like Bowser who will make it rain and reign destruction to the world for brief moments of time. In order to combat him directly, you need to collect Cat Shines that are waiting for you throughout the world. 

Cat Shines are everywhere!

In total, there are 100 Shines to collect but you only need 50 to see the game’s first ending. You do need to collect a certain amount of shines to unlock these giant Giga Bells that turns Mario into a super-human Cat and he can directly fight against Bowser.

Mario's Reaction as he collects a Cat Shine and triggers the nearby Lighthouse

The Cat Shines are all over the place. You may have to collect a set number of blue coins before the timer runs out. You might need to chase after a rabbit who will grant you one if you can catch it. Or, you may simply need to each a lighthouse to earn one. 

What cool about the Cat Shines is that you can even use them to your advantage and weaken Bowser before you can use the Giga Bell. When it’s raining and Bowser is attacking your area, if you manage to find a Cat Shine, it will trigger the nearby lighthouse and cause some small damage to him. There were often times I would find a Cat Shine and wait until it started to rain just so I could get an extra bit of damage.

I managed to reach the necessary 50 Shines and defeated Bowser, but I quickly jumped right back to find more. At the time of this posting, I’ve managed to find 69 (this was not intentional) but a few I just couldn’t get although I know exactly what I need to do. I’m surprised just how much this has sunk its teeth into me and just how much fun I’m having.

More of this, please

Giant Cat Mario engaged in a battle against Giant Bowser

It would be incredible for Nintendo to offer more of these ‘bite-sized’ games. Bowser’s Fury isn’t overly long but it also doesn’t feel like a lot of unnecessary content here just to fulfill an imaginary quota of content. Unfortunately, I don’t see a world where Nintendo releases a Mario game that isn’t full-priced and that’s really disappointing. Eventually, I will get my hands on Super Mario 3D World, I’m just having way too much fun with its bonus content.