Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)November 30th, 2009 | Written by Danreb Victorio | Topic: Reviews, Wii
Everyone’s favorite plumber, Mario, has been out and about for the greater part of two decades now. This year alone, Nintendo has fallen back on their mascot three times—each with critical acclaim. The newest entry in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series is still considered to be the best game available on DSiWare, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is perhaps the best game in the Mario & Luigi series, and now Nintendo has once again taken Mario to his roots in the New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
There’s no kart racing. There are no dice blocks, and there sure as heck isn’t any pill popping. New Super Mario Bros. Wii takes Mario back to his side-scrolling roots with a little twist; players now have the option of playing with four people simultaneously. In the past, Mario sidescrollers have featured alternating multiplayer, where once Mario died, Luigi would take over at the beginning of the level. Now Mario, Luigi, and two randomly colored Toads can work together (or against each other) in cleverly crafted and colorful levels.
Unlike Super Mario Bros. 2, or if you insist—Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl, the character you use does not matter as Mario, Luigi, and the Toads all handle the same. The only thing that differs is the playing level of each character. So if one player is obviously more skilled at the game than everybody else, it will be painfully obvious on-screen. What’s most interesting when playing with other players is the freedom you have because of its interactivity. Not only can you jump and bounce off players for extra air to get to unreachable areas, but you can also carry and toss them around to help get things done easier… or kill them. When one player dies in a multiplayer game, they will come back in a bubble that makes them otherwise invulnerable. When another player touches that bubble, it’ll pop—allowing that player to take control of things once again.
Players also have the option of tapping the A button to turn into a bubble. As stated, while turning into a bubble pretty much grants you invincibility, you have no control over yourself. So if you’re at a point where you’re about to fall into a ditch or get smashed by a thwomp, you can quickly tap the A button to go into that floating bubble—you’ll keep whatever power-up you have on, and all you’ll have to do is rely on your buddy to save you. Of course, if your buddy dies before that happens, you have to start the level over again—which is quite a pain if you don’t reach the level’s save point. Oh yeah, if every person decides to press A for the heck of it, the game assumes you all died—so don’t try to put the game on auto-pilot like that either.
As for putting the game on autopilot, that’s actually an option. In order to make the game more accessible to everyone, the developers have also added a power block that players can use to make the game play itself. When hitting this block, the computer takes over as Luigi and goes through the level on his own. After he’s done, you have the option of retrying the level yourself, or skipping it entirely. While it may seem like a quick copout, the reality of it is you probably have a general idea of how to beat the level anyway; you’re probably just unsuccessful each time. Either way, the only way to make use of this function is to die in the same level eight times—that in itself is an accomplishment.
While cooperative play between four people is quite an experience, it’s definitely not required. So if you’re the type of player who likes to play these kinds of games alone, you have that option. The levels in the game were definitely built to keep the single-player campaign an engaging experience, and perfectionists out there should find it challenging enough to find all the hidden and hard-to-reach star coins in every level.
Of course, if you ever need a breather from cooperative play, there are other modes as well. You have freeplay where you can just replay any level for fun or wreak havoc, and you also have Coin Battle mode where you simply go through a map and the player who finishes the level with the most coins wins. They’re both pretty pointless, but at least there’s options there.
In traditional Super Mario fashion, worlds are themed and divided up into a number of levels that follow the theme quite closely. For example, the first world is the Mushroom Kingdom, the second world is the desert that has nothing but sandy, desert-themed levels, the third is the water world where you’ll be doing a lot of swimming, and so on.
Like every Mario game before it, each level has different items and power-ups to make the job of getting to the end a lot easier. Aside from the usual suspects such as the Invincibility Star, the Mushroom, 1Up, and Fire Flower, you now have the propeller suit and the penguin suit. The propeller suit allows Mario to jump and reach higher areas thanks to the propeller on his cap, and the penguin suit allows Mario to freeze enemies in their tracks with snowballs while also making it easier to swim as well as have better traction in icy areas.
Each world also features dungeon that includes a midboss, and of course final castle to fight a harder form of that midboss, made possible by a Magikoopa that changes the environment of the battlefield. Diehard Super Mario veterans should be pleased to know that the Koopa Kids from Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, as well as the original animated series make their long-awaited return in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, further adding to the game’s great sense of nostalgia—as if stomping on their heads three times each to kill them wasn’t nostalgic enough.
The one thing that was quite alarming with the game was its pacing. While none of us died until about the end of the desert world, the difficulty started to drastically pick up, especially in the ice-themed world. So it’s worth noting that once you get started on the game, take advantage of its easy beginning and stock up on lives, because the game will begin to get excruciating in the later worlds. Another nitpick one can make is the fact that there’s no kind of online play. As great as the game is with other people, it could be so much better online. An online Mario Bros. would definitely work, especially given the success LittleBigPlanet is on the PS3.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii doesn’t do anything to wow anyone with its visuals, so if you’re expecting Super Mario Galaxy, you’ll be disappointed. The fact of the matter is this is a colorful title that any player should appreciate. It’s not high-definition nor does it make use of it, but it still looks great nonetheless. In the audio department, the game sounds pretty much like a 2D title with standard, non-MIDI music thrown in for good measure. The final product is something that both looks and sounds like Mario, and that’s exactly what everyone should expect from a Mario game.
While it doesn’t push the envelope with the Wii’s capabilities, New Super Mario Bros. Wii has just enough charm and spunk to satisfy both new and old gamers alike. The game has stellar worlds that make good use of their given themes, great puzzle-solving that makes interesting use of the control scheme, and a new multiplayer mechanic that is simply enjoyable. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is every bit as good as Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World are. As bold a statement as that is, it simply is what it is.