Updated: Feb 21
Bowser's Fury is the new Mario game packaged with Super Mario 3D World. Unlike SM3DW, it's a third person platformer like Galaxy or Sunshine. Also like those games, it's primarily built around levels with a handful of shines you need to get in sequence. All of the levels are in one giant ocean area without any load screens, but they're also mostly very abstract. Imagine if the challenge levels from Sunshine were a lot bigger and had some environmental decoration mixed in and you'll be pretty close to one of this game's levels.
Bowser's Fury has 100 shines, but even though that's a similar number to earlier 3D Mario games, it's much, much shorter. Many of the shines are closer to Odyssey's moons than a Sunshine shine in terms of effort, and even the main level shines don't take that long to get since the areas are small and the objectives usually aren't very complicated. Quick boss fights, blue coins, bringing a key back to the start, and picking up special items scattered throughout the level cover probably 80% of the level objectives. As a result, you can get the 50 needed to win in about two hours. I can't imagine the other 50 would take much longer.
Still, even if it doesn't stick around for long, the levels are well-designed and it has that baseline Mario platforming quality. Even though it uses a lot of the same mechanics as SM3DW, it doesn't suffer from the same camera issues because it's third person, and it doesn't have the same issue with overlapping button functions because it's better at picking the action you really wanted. The new problems it introduces - dramatic FPS drops when Bowser is on screen and sometimes having to stand around for ages until he decides to show up - didn't bother me that much.
All of which puts Bowser's Fury in a weird place. It's a great new Mario game, but you'll see credits in all of two hours. If you were like me and missed out on SM3DW the first time around, I think this is a nice bonus that helps to justify the price tag a little more. But if you're looking at this pack primarily for it, that's a very difficult recommendation. This is a good game, but it's also tiny and there are better and larger indie platformers that sell for half the price. In an ideal world, Nintendo would be selling this game standalone for $10-15. Making it exclusive to an unchanged version of an old game feels like exploiting the series most devoted fans.
Time to credits: 2 hours