Nintendo's Wii U hasn't exactly set the world on fire. But if there's any genre that can take it off of life support, it's a 3D Mario game. Nintendo told us a while back that one was in the works, but today the company took the cat out of the bag (in this case, quite literally). It's called Super Mario 3D World, and we got a chance to play it today at E3.

Super Mario 3D World is the spiritual successor to 2011's 3DS hit, Super Mario 3D Land. Having played that game – and now two levels of the Wii U version – you'll see a lot that's familiar, but also a lot that's different.

The most obvious difference is four-player co-op. The experience is every bit as insane as the last co-cop Mario games (like New Super Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U). It's fast-paced, wacky, platforming bedlam.

Another new feature is Mario's cat suit. Grab the power-up, and you'll be able to climb walls (Mario also crawls like a cat while wearing the suit). This lets you reach platforms and areas that you wouldn't otherwise be able to get to.

Being a Wii U game, Nintendo naturally incorporated some asymmetric gameplay with the GamePad. I used the GamePad in our zany four-player match, and it let me do things like stopping spinning platforms and stunning enemies. If you've ever played Super Mario Bros. U, this is all familiar: touch the screen to help out your buddies.

Nintendo also paid tribute here to the NES classic, Super Mario Bros. 2 by giving our heroes different abilities. Luigi jumps higher, Princess Peach floats, Toad is fast, and Mario has the most even-keeled, all-around set of powers. Those are the only four characters you can choose from in Mario 3D World.

So we'll look forward to some more extended hands-on time with Nintendo's latest. Especially some single-player action, where Nintendo's level design tends to stand out more. But, based on these quick first impressions, it looks promising. Maybe not Mario Galaxy promising, but any 3D Mario game should be good news for starved Wii U owners.

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