System: Wii (Exclusive)
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Genre: 2D Platformer
New Super Mario Bros Wii is the first new 2D Mario platforming game in 18 years to grace home consoles. That’s right, believe it or not, gripping your SNES controller with sweaty palms and dry eyes was the last time you played an original 2D Mario platformer on a television set. Time flies.
New Super Mario Bros Wii is a follow up to 2006’s best-selling New Super Mario Bros, which was released on the Nintendo DS. Bearing the same moniker, there are obviously some very obvious similarities between the two titles. The Wii rendition is not, however, a remake of the original New Super Mario Bros on the DS. This game is, as I’ve already stated in my opening paragraph, a completely original and unique 2D platformer. I can’t stress that enough, as I overheard one of the idiots at Gamestop tell a customer that they might as well not buy the game if they’ve played the DS version, as the games are identical. I hate stupid people.
The game opens up with a short cinematic which shows how Princess Toadstool manages to get herself captured by Bowser for the umteenth time, this time with the help of both Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings, a gang we haven’t seen in action since the legendary Super Mario World 18 years ago. The video also shows where all the powerups you’ll be collecting on your romp through the Mushroom Kingdom came from.
The thing that set the Mario games apart from the flood of 2D platformers back in the late 80’s and early 90’s was the perfect controls. Here we are, 18 years later and the game still controls flawlessly. Players hold their Wiimote on its side and play the game exactly like you would if the game were on the NES, albeit with a few obvious enhancements.
First on the list of upgrades is that Mario’s arsenal of attacks and maneuvers has drastically grown since his last 2D adventure and now includes abilities from his 3D games. Moves like the Butt Stomp, Wall Jump, Triple Jump, and Spin can all be utilized here in NSMB and work just as they did in their 3D counterparts.
The next thing you might notice is the addition of some brand new items. Of course you’ve got your standard Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Starman powerups, the corest of core items from the Mario universe. In addition to these, you also have access to the Mini Mushroom, an item that debuted in NSMB on the DS, as well as three brand new and completely original items. The Propeller Mushroom gives your character a Propeller hat which gives you the power of brief flight. The Ice Flower allows you to shoot snow balls instead of fireballs, freezing your enemies and making it possible to pick them up and slide them across the field. My personal favorite is the Penguin Suit, which lets you slide along icy levels on your belly and gives increased handling when swimming.
And finally, the Wii Remote has been incorporated pretty well into the experience. You simply flick the controller to do a twirl a la Mario Galaxy, there are platforms and lights that will need to be manipulated by tilting the Remote, and the Wiimote Speaker is utilized pretty well.
Easily the biggest addition to New Super Mario Bros is the option to play with up to four players on screen at once. Instead of taking turns, as was the way of old, players can now play through any level with up to three friends at his side. This does a few things to change gameplay. For starters, when a player dies the game isn’t over. So long as there is at least one player still alive, the fallen will float back onto the playfield inside of a bubble until another player pops them out. You might think this would make the game much easier, and in a way it does since you won’t have to start a level over every time you die, but trust me when I say that playing with friends can prove to be much more challenging than going alone. However, it is also much more fun.
You see, when playing with multiple players you’ll really have to learn how to work as a team. If you don’t you’ll just be running into each other, bouncing off of each others heads, and knocking each other into pits of lava, wasting time and lives along the way. This creates a very, very hectic atmosphere that is oftentimes fun, but can border on frustrating if you are with a particularly weak player. If that’s the case, though, said weakling can simple press the A button and they will be thrown into the safety of a bubble where they can float through with the other players until the end of the level. The inclusion of this ability is great, and helps to take some burden off of the lesser skilled. Once you do learn how to work as a team, you’re going to get through levels much more easily and you will have a lot more fun playing.
And learning to get through levels easily will be no small task, as this is probably the hardest Mario game I’ve ever played. I’m the kind of guy who plays through the classics on a regular basis, and even I had to use a few continues. Though in my defense most of the lives I lost were because of the two idiots, Sam Bowden and Patrick O’brien, I was playing with. Or at least that’s who I blame.
To help players get through this wholeheartedly welcomed challenge, Nintendo has included a few new features. First off is the Super Guide, which is basically a video of the game being played the right way. The Super Guide is activated by hitting a block that appears after you die a certain number of times, and you can take over at any point in the Guide. The second is the ability to spend your Star Coins on Hint movies at Princess Peach’s castle. There are videos to show you how to get Infinite 1-Ups, secret goals, Star Coins, and even Super Skill movies that just make you feel like shit for sucking at the game so bad.
The game’s visuals have received a lot of flak from a lot of people for being too simple and too basic, and I agree to an extent. I love what is there, but there could be so much more. The visuals are smooth and effective, perfectly fitting the mood of the Mushroom Kingdom universe. Bright colors help bring the mind-blowingly creative levels to life, animations are perfectly fluid, and the frame rate never dips, even with four players thrashing through a deadly field of Bullet Bills. That said, the game could have looked much better. Imagine this game looking like Mario Galaxy on a 2D plane.
The sound is simply great. The game is littered with fantastic remakes of all your favorite old-school songs, the most awesome of which being the Flying Ship ballad, as well as some completely new original tracks that’ll get stuck in your head for days to come. As already stated, the Wiimote speaker is put to excellent use and helps to add a level of immersion to the experience that was never possible before. Sound effects aren’t overly impressive but they get their job done just fine.
In terms of replay value, this game’s nine worlds will last you forever. It’s like all Mario games, a timeless classic that you will revisit time and time again. Hell, I still play through the original pretty often, just because it is such a good game. And don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve played through Super Mario Bros 3 and World. The addition of same-time multiplayer means you’ll find more and more reason to keep coming back to the game, as you’ll want to play with old friends, new friends, family members, and even strangers.
That being said, there is one very big, almost unforgivable but not unexpected omission. No online support, at all. I’ve already said this game will last forever, and I stand by that statement, but the inclusion of multiplayer would’ve made that forever so much better. There is really no excuse for Nintendo not to have included it, other than the fact that they didn’t think it was all that important which is a real shame.
New Super Mario Bros is the first 2D Mario console platformer in 18 years, and it is easily one of the best. The amount of hard work and love Shigeru Miyamoto and his team at EAD poured into this title is evident. Levels are beyond creative and very memorable, music is beautiful, the controls and gameplay are simply perfect, and multiplayer is a blast. I really wish online support would’ve been added, but even without it Nintendo has created yet another timeless classic to add to their library of legendary games.
- It’s a 2D Mario game
- Tight handling, proper physics, and engaging gameplay
- Up to four players on screen at once
- Brilliant level design
- Great mix of old and new songs
- A very challenging game
- No online
- Visuals could’ve been much better
- Playing with idiots
Score: 9.25/10 (Outstanding)
Entertainment Value: 9.5/10