We've already conquered World 1 and seen some Super Mario 3D Land's later levels at E3, but we couldn't pass up a recent chance to play six new levels from Worlds 2 and 3 to see more of what's easily our most anticipated upcoming 3DS game. As we see more and more of 3D Land, it's really starting to feel like a "greatest hits" of the Mario franchise, both in content and in gameplay, but without the rehash connotation.
One of the most impressive aspects of 3D Land so far is how utterly different each level is from the last of all the levels we've played, none have even remotely felt like repeats of a previous level. In one particularly creative level, Mario dons a block-shaped propeller hat that launches him super high into the air (like, several screens high), and looking down we saw that the level was made out of huge 8-bit sprites like Mario and Peach from the original Super Mario Bros, and we had to fly from 8-bit island to 8-bit island to get to the goal. In this way, 3D Land doesn't just play with 3D, but also with heights (even though Tanooki Mario still doesn't fly), and others levels feature as much vertical as horizontal movement.
Super Mario 3D Land succeeds in using 3D as more than just window dressing too during our playtime, we played with the 3D both on and off, and it definitely makes a huge difference having it on. Many of the levels we played seemed designed around playing with perspective, and adding 3D achieves a feeling of depth that makes moving around in the 3D space work really well. If you really can't deal with 3D for whatever reason though, there are still cues you can use (like looking at the shadows of platforms and blocks on the ground) to line up your jumps, so it's still playable without it too.