What’s the most romantic date you can think of? Strolling hand in hand through a park in Paris, a candlelit dinner on a New York rooftop … or tag-teaming Para-Biddybuds with Princess Peach? This year the stars aligned and I was finally free to spend Valentine’s Day exactly the way I’ve always wanted: playing Super Mario 3D World for 12 hours straight through online co-op.
In what I’m sure is a familiar situation for many, my partner and I weren’t able to see each other in person this Valentine’s Day. The UK lockdown is still in full effect, and besides, we live a few hundred miles apart. Thankfully, Nintendo stepped in to save the day. The “new and improved” release of Super Mario 3D World supports local as well as online co-op with up to four players, a major bonus for those of us struggling to spend time with that special someone (or someones, I’m not judging). It seemed like a pretty good way to spend some time together. But this year I wanted to up the ante a little: We were apart for Christmas, New Year’s, even my birthday. “What’s more romantic than playing video games?” I hear you ask. Well, I’ll tell you: playing a video game for 12 hours straight.
In an ideal world, I would never be awake at sunrise on a Sunday morning. In the countryside on the outskirts of Cambridge, I woke to find a thin mist hanging over the lawn outside my window. When I logged onto Discord to start the call with my partner, I was transported, my ears filled with the squawking of the seagulls on the southern coast. Despite having owned a Wii U, I never actually played the original Super Mario 3D World; in fact, I don’t think I was even aware it existed, so I have no idea what I’m getting into. My partner, on the other hand, is a Super Mario connoisseur, and assures me we’re in for a great experience.
Thankfully, he’s right. The first few hours glide by unnoticed, punctuated by 5-minute tea breaks and occasional internet drops. As the difficulty ramps up, the mood changes: We’re chatting less, more and more in sync with one another. One minute we’re cats stalking rabbits across the grassy plains, the next, we’re running rings around Goombas on giant ice skates. We move in perfect harmony. After we pass the halfway mark, my fatigue begins to show. I can’t ground pound like I used to: My back aches, and my thumbs are stiff. There are times when I feel like quitting, but we soldier on in the name of love.
Before I know it, the sun is setting and the day is done. We poured our heart and soul into Super Mario 3D World, and it, in return, gave us a fun and relaxing Valentine’s Day that far exceeded our expectations. Something we both agreed on was that there are certain stages that are much more conducive to romance than others, so I’ve taken the liberty of compiling those here. Without further ado, here are the most romantic date spots in Super Mario 3D World (in no particular order).
Super Bell Hill
As the opening stage, Super Bell Hill is a simple and fuss-free date spot. Stroll up and down the grassy slopes, or take in the sea view in your matching cat suits.
Plessie’s Plunging Falls
Jump aboard this enormous aquatic creature for an experience akin to traversing the canals of Venice.
Boss Bowser’s Highway Showdown
If you’re looking for something to get your heart pounding, look no further. Crouching on the steps towards the end of the stage lets you sled down them at a rapid speed: just make sure you don’t get too close to the top and trigger the boss fight!
Looking to rekindle that spark? Take turns carrying each other past the Conkdors! And remember: just because you can throw your date off the edge, it doesn’t mean you should.
Looking to splash the cash? Visit this elusive solid gold level to really make an impression.
Boss Lava Rock Lair
Breathtaking natural stone for the most discerning outdoor enthusiast.
Visit in the springtime to see the annual sand sculpture festival. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet some local sports fans!
Tricky Trapeze Theater
Bright lights, big Piranha Plants.
Get to know your inner animal.
Clear Pipe Cruise
When it comes to romance, transparency is the best policy.
You can be Goombas in this one.
Borrow some skates from a neighborhood Goomba and let loose on the ice!
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