New Super Mario Bros. Wii Review
Written By Stephen Heller
In 1985 a game launched on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), a game that would create a legacy and change gaming forever. It was simple, yet challenging and most of all, fun. You controlled the character Mario through a series of levels plagued with mushrooms, flying turtles and some hectic platforming. Since that game Mario has been in a number of adventures, most recent have been in the 3D realm. What New Super Mario Bros. Wii does is amazing, it takes the formula of that very first Mario adventure, brings in ideas from all of his subsequent quests, and adds in enough new to make this formula not only reek of nostalgia, but feel fresh at the same time. The question is, will this game reach out to a new generation of Mario gamers, or does it only appeal to those veterans who are drawn in by the nostalgia factor? Let’s find out…
New Super Mario Bros (NSMB) is a return to a 2D platform as we run and jump our ways from the start of a level to the flag, taking out a multitude of familiar foes out along the way with a few new surprises to keep the player on their toes. It’s the simplicity of the goal, get from point A to point B that makes this game instantly accessible to any player, it’s objective is so simple that Grandma could sit down and have an idea of how to complete the objective. Accessible doesn’t mean easy, NSMB does it’s best to keep you challenged, right to the end of its 8 worlds.
Due to the games difficulty, and more notably, to keep a level playing field for those new to the series, Nintendo have hatched a new idea called the “Super Guide”. If you have died eight times on a level, next time you load it up a Green “!” box will appear. Hit this box and you will be able to watch Luigi strut his stuff through the level, effectively showing you how to complete the part you keep dying on. It’s a great feature for those who are new to the series, but veterans will most likely steer clear from it all together. It’s not forced upon the player, which means it’s your own choice to use it.
Where NSMB truly shines is the intergration of multiplayer which has the potential to cause friendships to end, family quarrels and bring out your inner jerk in the best kind of way. Each player controls a character as you make your way through the main game, either helping each other out, or competing for overall supremacy. There are sections where co-operation is paramount, utilizing features such as the grab and lift mechanic, effectively lifting a fellow player onto your shoulders, and the ability to throw them towards that hard to reach power-up, or a lava pit to teach them a lesson, whichever may apply to the situation. There is no better feeling than having a friend betray you, only for you to get a lucky wall jump to save yourself and you get a chance to exact revenge. This is some of the best fun you’ll have on your Wii, period.
The four characters on offer are Mario, Luigi or Toad (blue or yellow) which is a little disappointing. All four characters have the same abilities, yet it can be confusing if both toads grab an invincibility star as they flash the same multicolored pattern. Overall the dynamic works well. If one player dies they re-appear in a floating bubble and will re-join the game when another player tags them in. If all four players manage to die at the same time, sorry lads but you’ll need to restart the level. It’s a great way to bring tensions up, especially in those ultra-hard stages and you all have hardly any lives left.
For those of you who are veterans to the 1985 classic you should feel right at home when it comes to the control scheme of NSMB. Holding the Wii remote sideways and using the 1, 2 and D-Pad for the majority of the gameplay mechanics, with a few waggle motions to make it fill the Wii game obligations. A small shake of the remote will have your character pull of a spin-jump, which is handy when equipped with a Flower power-up as it will shoot out in opposite directions, potentially protecting you from incoming foes. The other motion control is a simple tilt action, used to swing platforms and tilt cannons used within the game. They integrate into the gameplay well and don’t cause any issues.
I’m sure many gamers reading this could attest that level design in each Mario adventure has been paramount to the series success. NSMB is no exception, featuring eight worlds bursting with creativity. Each level is carefully plotted, and later levels will have you studying the environment to work out a safe passage to the end goal. It can be a split second gap that will save your life, and while you may go red in the face and clench that controller just a little too tight until you get it, the feeling of completion is a reward unto itself.
For those completionists out there NSMB features plenty of side challenges to keep you busy. Red Coins and Star coins need to be collected, Kidnapped Toads need to be saved and carried safely to the goal in some levels, and a bunch of cannons can be unlocked to shoot you to new worlds. You will be playing each level over and over again to collect everything, which is exactly what you are looking for in a Mario title.
With the addition of the already hectic four player multiplayer comes new game modes. Foot Race breathes destruction as you race across open levels, free from the time constraints of the normal game. Coin Battles pit players against each other on one screen with a series of enemies. The player with the most coins at the end wins.
This is where Nintendo should have capitalised on the potential for rivalries, whether it be the implementation of leaderboards online, or even just a ladder that stays on the home console. Once the game has ended and you want to tell your friends about your epic win, there is no proof on the console. Such a simple concept could increase the longevity of these gameplay modes, yet it is yet another opportunity missed by the developers.
Going back to the games roots, the graphics are a fantastic blend of 3D Characters, retro sprites, scrolling backgrounds creating a feeling of Super Mario World that was released on the SNES with some 3D character modeling. It very rarely departs from this presentation model, and it’s a good thing it doesn’t as the 2D playing field really makes this game feel fresh.
The soundtrack for NSMB is a perfect mix of old school and re-vamped tunes, bringing in waves of nostalgia as you hum along to familiar tunes from your childhood. The sound effects are back, with power-ups and such chiming through the Wii remote speaker which is a nice touch.
The Final Verdict
Is New Super Mario Bros. Wii the greatest Mario title to date? That’s a decision you need to make for yourself, but the fact that it’s debatable is a true testament to just how good this new addition is. Bringing in the best of series, going back to the original form as a 2D platformer, and throwing in four player mayhem brings Mario and his adventures to a whole new level. The most important ingredient is fun, and no matter who you are, you will undoubtedly have a bunch of fun with this title. Nintendo have just proven again that they are the masters of creating a game to suit a large age group.
GAMEPLAY: 9.5/10: Not much could be improved, but at times tighter controls would make things easier.
GRAPHICS: 9.8/10: The game looks gorgeous and is a perfect fit for the game.
AUDIO: 9.5/10: A perfect mix of re-vamped tunes with new twists and great sound effects
VALUE: 9.0/10: Completionists will be busy for a long time, but would have been nice to have some online
features or some sort of scoreboard for competitive play.