Developer/publisher: Nintendo

Price: £39.99, Players: 1-4

Age rating: 3+, Release date: November 29

Version tested: Wii U, Ability rating: Intermediate

The Wii U needs something truly special to restore its fortunes, and with an almost irritating level of inevitability, that something happens to come wearing a massive moustache and blue dungarees.

Super Mario 3D World could be described in very basic terms as a sequel of sorts to the popular Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS.

However, that somewhat lazy comparison only holds water for the first few levels. Once you've spent an hour in the delicious company of the game you'll be shelving such preconceptions thanks to 3D World's inventive stages, innovative new items and blissfully chaotic multiplayer mode.

Cat Mario is one of the best things in gaming. Honestly, it is

Up to four players can take part, each selecting a character from the quartet of Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach.

Unlike the New Super Mario games – where every character has identical powers – our heroes are blessed with unique talents this time around. For example, Luigi can kick his legs to flutter in mid-air while Toad is poor at jumping but is quick on the ground.

Add in the amazing Cat Suit power-up – which allows you to claw enemies, scale walls and climb trees – and you've got a seriously enjoyable romp.

There's nothing quite as entertaining as four skilled players attempting to outdo one another yet still trying to maintain the level of cooperation required to actually finish the course, but the good news for families is that even weaker participants can get in on the action.

As long as lives remain and there's an active player on screen, everyone else can keep re-spawning.

BOSH take that, maggot

While the game's gloriously inventive levels are clearly built with four players in mind, they're just as much fun to play solo, which is a remarkable accomplishment in itself.

In fact, finding all of the game's many secrets is a task which will require more than just a few social gaming sessions - like all the best entries in the Super Mario series, 3D World takes weeks to surrender all of its tricks.

Then there’s the fact that Nintendo's mascot has simply never looked so good, and the cartoon world he and his chums inhabit is downright exquisite.

With other developers using HD graphics to represent real-world objects or characters, it's refreshing to see Nintendo harness that very same power to take Mario's whimsical, technicolour world to the next level of visual opulence.

It's telling that despite the arrival of the PS4 and Xbox One, the best game this Christmas is likely to be one on a Nintendo console.

Peach in an ice skate, obviously

Super Mario 3D World is a vivid illustration of just how talented Nintendo's designers are. It takes tried-and-tested components which are decades old and refines them almost to the point of perfection.

It's genuinely hard to find any fault here.

3D World's many levels all feel unique, with many offering new ideas and concepts which other developers would base an entire adventure around.

Instead, Nintendo shows you something original and then discards it in favour of a new innovation on the subsequent level.

As a result, Mario's latest outing never feels anything less than fresh and exciting, regardless of whether you're playing on your own or with three friends.

In Summary

The Wii U has had a bumpy start, but those who have persevered with the overlooked console throughout a tumultuous 2013 will be amply rewarded with what could very well end up being the game of the year.

Super Mario 3D World is quite simply one of the best titles we've played in ages. verdict: 5/5