Mario returns with his brother and their toadstool pals to save the princess one more time. Encased in an eye-catching red case, New Super Mario Bros. Wii has just what the doctor ordered, a good dose of gaming nostalgia.
The "New" in New Super Mario Bros. Wii (NSMB) might not be relevant in a few years because there is bound to be another Super Mario Bros. title, however for the moment New Super Mario. Bros is one-of-a-kind and a reminder of the simpler days of gaming, and by simpler I mean simple in concept only. This new take on Super Mario is exactly like the old games except it's been given a graphical boost. You know the drill here... jump around 2D levels that are segregated by theme, hoping to reach the end without loosing too many lives. The concept hasn't changed which is a good thing, however don't immediately mark NSMB off as a cash grab. New Mario Bros. has a lot of little nuances that pull this the project together feeling both nostalgic and freshly. It's not exactly a classic, but it holds its own against Mario's high standards.
Back Down The Pipe
There are plenty of new innovations slapped into the Mushroom Kingdom along with a good amount of familiarity. Any gamer who has grown up with Mario will instantly feel at home. For "us", the old schoolers, each new addition to their trademark formula has a “hey look” moment. Unlike other series, Mario's fans seem to embrace changes, as long as they don't take it too far. Mario has to be Mario, and if you know what that means, then you will love what Nintendo has cooked up for the Wii edition.
It is easy to tell that NSMB was handcrafted with loving care, and with all the changes in the industry over the last 20 years, it's even more surprising how well this classic formula holds up. One of the major contributing factors to this is the excellent balance and level design. NSMB has to be pointed out as one of the most creative "Mario's" to date, and there have been a lot of Mario games.
Mario keeps things fairly simple while included most of the elements that you remember from the past with a heavy influence from Super Mario Bros. 3. The main part that has been ripped from Mario 3 is the navigation and world layout. Like Mario 3 you will be placed on a game world like a board game while you follow selected paths and jump in and out of magical worlds. Each world has several levels, and secret levels to find and play through with a unique theme attached to each world. New gamers who haven’t played the Mario games of the past, you can simply think of the DS version of the game, and it should pop into your head. The Wii edition and DS edition are very similar even with a few years of development between them. If you enjoyed the DS edition you will certainly love what Nintendo has cooked up for the Wii.
Tougher Than You Think
One big aspect that has changed from the DS version is the difficulty level. NSMB is surprisingly difficult! I wouldn’t ever have guessed that Nintendo would make Mario as difficult as it is, so be prepared to be frustrated often as you accept the coin gathering challenges. To help you through those frustrating moments is a guide that you can access in the castle at the beginning of the level. Here you can watch the Bros. complete a level and then you can choose to go right back into the action, or you can choose to skip the level. This is an interesting option that usually isn’t presented in games, and even though it will displease the hardcore crowd of purists, it is a nice optional add-on that will likely save a lot of television sets from having a controller thrown through their screens.
Shh... I've Got A Secret
Like Mario games in the past there are more than enough secret areas and coins to collect. Trying to get all the coins and find all the secrets is part of the Mario experience and all treasure seekers should be pleased at the twists Nintendo have added. Running straight through the game can be done although it’s not the true way to play Mario. In a straight run-through you’re look at an 8hrs of gaming depending on your skill level which isn’t bad. Treasure seekers can almost double this, again depending on your skill. NSMB is a fun game and its fun to try levels over-and-over (a Super Mario Trait). So if you are worried about NSMB not being enough of a game, don’t.
Uh, Not Again!
One factor that helps NSMB extend its play time around the new “Save Toad” missions that will pop up in the world map when a boss character kidnaps him. This gives you the option of chasing after him and finding the little bugger and carries his lazy carcass out. It’s pretty sad when you get kidnapped more than the Princess. Rescuing Toad started to play on my patience, but at least he offers you up a reward. Rewards are played out in a match game like the earlier Mario games except this you are forced flip the match cards manually.
Mario's Been Wii-moted
Controlling NWSB starts with the tilting the Wii-mote sideways and resting your fingers on the (1) and (2) buttons. This works like the old school NES controllers with the (1) and (2) in place of (A) and (B). There is a little bit of shaking that you will have to do, but thankfully not too much. The shaking is done to control a few angling platform pieces or to jump and spin your character. You should be able to grasp the controls within a mere second. NSMB feels as solid as it did back in the day, but I have to admit the Wii-mote isn’t as comfortable to hold in long sittings. The option to plug in the classic controller would have been very welcomed here, however strange enough Nintendo left it out.
The new power-ups in NSMB include two new suits, one propeller and one penguin. The other power-up is the ability to throw iceballs which operates as the opposite as fireballs. Mario’s agent is one sadistic dude thrown Mario in these so-called “cute” outfits. The outfits like his classic frogsuit make Mario look absolutely ridiculous, however its form over function and both these suits add a great immense of pleasure to the game.
The propeller suit lets Mario jump extremely high in the air with a spinning twist. This allows him to reach high spots and travel over large distances as he spins to a stop. I really enjoyed this suit mainly because it can be exploited in levels when you have to go upwards. Throw on this suit and you can cut down your platform jumping by half. The penguin suit is another nice addition that lets Mario glide across the top of water which takes care of the aggravating under-water levels. These two suits add a go amount of freshness to the game, its too bad you couldn’t go back in time with this wardrobe that could have helped a lot. Lastly is the iceballs which are equally impressive and help Mario freeze up his enemies to sneak by them, or dispose of them when they unthaw.
New Super Mario Co-Op
The popular idea of co-op gaming has been added into New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This lets four people jump into the Mushroom Kingdom as Mario, Luigi, Blue and Yellow Toad. Each character plays the same which is a little disappointing. I would have liked to have seen a little more of that Super Mario Bros. 2 action back in the scene. Who can forget Luigi’s fast and frantic feet? The multi-player action is a little hard to get into and is more frustrating then playing alone. The major problem is that you will be bouncing off each other and trying to hit the same platform making every section of the game feel like a minefield. I tried this mode with two players and it was frustrating enough, so I can’t even imagine four. The multiplayer mode you’ll want to stick with is a small “Coin Battle”. This straightforward romp is how I think of Mario multiplayer, not a messed mayhem.
The production levels behind NSMB looks fairly slick. It’s too bad that Nintendo hasn’t embraced the HD generation yet because NSMB could be so much more. Rant aside NSMB is a good looking Wii game and the 3D/2D graphics work perfectly. The themed levels are the key here and the music follows right along. Colours are thoughtfully used along with great inventive props. The enemies are the same old rated bunch, now with animations. It’s all a bit silly really, but you have to remember Mario’s target audience. Also the sound effects are the same, and as you can guess have their own nostalgic 8-bit charm, although in co-op with four characters going at once it can be slightly infuriating to hear that bounce/jump sound over-and-over. The main point here is that Mario sounds and looks like Mario game. Nothing flashy here-- just another cookie off the sheet.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii will please everyone who is looking for that classic 2D Mario game. Nintendo’s reimagining of their classic franchise is as solid as their Nintendo DS remake. The only concern surround NSMB is that it could be a tad too difficult for young gamers, and co-op is frustrating and tedious. It’s advised that you stay away from the co-op and concentrate on the great platforming gaming in each level. I would suggest visiting the Castle for help rather than turning into one of those angry "fit kids" from YouTube. Pushing those minor issues aside, NSMB is still a must have for Wii owners who enjoy the Mario style of gaming. Mario is back and New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a solid showing for the plumber in red. Now let’s hope the next Super Mario Bros. game isn’t another three years away.
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 11.24.09
- Big heaping pile of nostalgia
- New tweaks to the Mario world
- Same classic gameplay with a few new additions
- Tutorials to help you through the hard parts
- Levels are thoughtfully put together
- Lots of reasons to replay
- 4 player co-op ready
- Tougher than you would think
- Can be highly frustrating at times
- Toad is more pathetic than the Princess
- Some spots can feel cheap
- Co-op play is tedious
- The charm is starting to wear thin
- Can’t use the classic controller