• Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

    Posted by Mike Yawney on November 16th, 2009 View Comments

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    new_super_mario_bros_wiiOh Mario, how you have changed. I remember you when you were nothing more than a simple side scrolling hero, crawling through the sewers and pipes trying to find your Princess. Now you’ve acquired all sorts of bizarre power-ups, you’ve traveled to bizarre locales, heck you even brought video gaming into the third dimension. You are a cherished bit of gaming history, but something is missing.

    It’s true, all your 3D adventures have been a blast (Super Mario Sunshine excluded), but I have yet to get the same feeling from you as I did in Super Mario Bros 3, when you took on the Koopa Children, or in Super Mario World World when you first met Yoshi. There was something about those side scrolling titles that give me fond memories. Was it the simplicity of a side scroller? Was it the numerous secrets to discover and unlock on the world map? Or was it the stories themselves? While I can’t put my finger on it, I’m happy to say that feeling has now come back to me in the New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

    The Story

    This is going to sound like a broken record, but here it goes. It’s Princess Peach’s birthday and she’s throwing a huge bash. Mario, Luigi, and the toads are all there celebrating when a giant cake arrives. All of a sudden the cake opens and the Koopa children jump out. Princess is tossed into the cake and thrown into an airship. It seems Bowser Jr now has his grubby little paws on Princess Peach and it’s up to you and a few friends to save her.

    Fortunately the Toads were planning on giving Princess Peach a few unique power ups for her birthday. They stuff two giant presents filled with power-ups into a cannon and shoot them out over the mushroom kingdom. The presents explode and the power-ups scatter. If you find them, you’ll be able to use them on your quest!

    The GamePlay

    There are two ways to play Super Mario Bros. Wii. The first is single player mode. Here you will search for Princess Peach on your own, collecting power-ups and defeating the Koopa children one by one. A solid single player game, but if you want to get the most fun out of it, you’ll want to gather a few friends.

    Multiplayer is where this game really shines. For the first time, up to 4 players can play together on the screen at the same time. Everyone selects a character (first player must be Mario) and you’re off. The game plays just like it does in single player mode, but 4 of you will be on the screen together. Let the mayhem begin!

    Play with up to four people on the screen at the same time

    Play with up to four people on the screen at the same time

    The first thing you’ll notice is you can’t walk through each other. Characters, bump, bounce and push each other as they scramble their way to the goal. Heck, you can even pick up your friends and toss them. You will not only be fighting for personal space (try cramming four characters on a tiny floating platform) but for items as well. each question mark box has 4 items in it. If you’re nice you can let everyone grab an item. If you’re feeling mean, grab all of them for yourself. It’s always a mad scramble to grab items when they fly out of the box since they seem to be few and far between.

    Having all 4 characters on the screen is a bit of a challenge. When one person moves forward the entire screen will scroll. If you’re lagging behind you will be pushed forward by the screen as it scrolls ahead. There’s no room for slowpokes in this game. This means if you’re stuck behind a hill and someone advances the screen forward you will be crushed. It takes teamwork to advance in  this game!

    If someone dies, they reappear in a bubble. They can break the bubble by shaking the Wiimote whenever they see fit to return to the action. But be careful! If someone else touches your bubble it will pop and you will drop down into the action regardless if you’re ready or not. If your bubble is floating over a pit and someone jumps past you, you will go into the hole!

    When your group is close together on the screen, the camera zooms in giving you a nice closeup of the action. Once you spread out, the camera zooms out for a wider picture. This feature works well as the camera never zooms out too far leaving your characters as tiny specs on the screen.

    Nintendo has also thrown in two more multiplayer modes. Coin Battle mode pits players against each other to see who can get the most coins. Free For All mode lets everyone decide for themselves if they want to be good or bad. Want to split up the power-up items? Go ahead. Want to grab them all for yourself and toss whoever comes to grab one over the cliff…go for it! You decide how you want to play.

    As for the game itself there are a ton of throwbacks here for Mario fans. The overworld map is back, letting you choose what level you wish to complete. Of course the secret exits are back as well. Some levels have alternate exits which open up hidden paths on the world map. The exclamation switches also make an appearance. Once they are activated hidden blocks appear in levels you have already accomplished to give you access to previously unreachable areas. These switches can be toggled off and on, giving you the option of having the blocks visible or not if you wish to revisit a level.

    New Power-Ups

    A new Mario game wouldn’t be complete without new power-ups. This time around you have three new ones to choose from. First let’s take a look at the Propeller Suit. The suit makes you look like a Teletubby but it actually comes in handy. The suit has a helmet with a propeller on top. When you shake the Wiimote the propeller begins to spin, sending you skyward. You can then glide down towards the ground collecting hard to reach coins and other items along the way.

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    The second power-up is the Penguin Suit. When you have this suit on you can walk across ice without slipping as well as slide on your belly at break neck speeds, giving you access to narrow passageways.

    Last but not least we have the Ice Flower. It’s just like the Fire Flower, only it allows you to toss snowballs. Once they hit an enemy they will freeze into block of ice and can either be moved or smashed.

    The Controls

    You can toss the Nunchuk aside for this game as you’ll only be using the Wiimote. Turn the Wiimote sideways and you basically have yourself an old school controller with the 1 and 2 buttons substituting for the A and B buttons.

    Some of the controls will be very familiar to avid Mario fans. Holding down the 1 button will make you run faster, while pressing the 2 button will make your character jump.

    The only real change is the inclusion of the A button on the Wiimote. When pressed, your character will jump into a bubble on screen. This works wonders if you’re about to fall down a hole! Press it at the last second and you will not die, but rather float until you choose to release yourself by shaking the Wiimote. It doesn’t really work in single player mode but this is a God send in multiplayer and a maneuver you will use over and over again.

    Overall the controls feel very familiar and natural which is important, as the action on the screen can get quite intense at times.

    The Graphics

    Cute and whimsical. This is Mario at it’s best. This may be a 2D side scrolling title but the simplicity behind the graphics give it a nice charm.

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    The graphics are classic Mario style, cute and colorful

    The backgrounds have the typical rolling hills and towering mushroom caps, while the foreground is filled with flowers and fruit for Yoshi to eat (yes he makes a comeback!). Even the enemies up the cuteness factor as they stop and dance to the beat in the background music.

    The Downsides

    Warning, this game is HARD! I gathered 3 other experienced gamers with me to play multiplayer and let me tell you there was some cursing going on! Playing with 4 people on the screen at the same time takes some getting used to. It’s easy to get distracted by what others are doing. The levels themselves are also difficult. We probably spent a combined 50 lives trying to get past the first castle alone! This game is a nice challenge for gamers, and the fun factor is so high many won’t mind playing the same level over and over again. However, younger gamers may find it too challenging.

    Speaking of challenges, one annoying thing I noticed in multiplayer mode was when someone dies, the action pauses for a brief second on screen. This got incredibly annoying as you die A LOT in this game! The interruption is brief, but it’s noticeable and becomes quite annoying.

    Finally I have to say something about the story. While I love the retro feel of this game, and the re-introduction of characters I haven’t seen for years, the storyline is a bit boring. Princess Peach gets kidnapped again? Really? Hasn’t anyone in the castle realized they need better security?

    The Bottom Line

    If you loved playing Mario games on the NES or even the SNES you are going to absolutely love this game. It’s classic side-scrolling Mario with a nice four player twist. The graphics are simple but well done, the music top notch and the fun factor is incredibly high. Mario games don’t get much better than this.

    My only word of caution is on the difficulty level. Younger players may find this one just too tough to play. Even experienced players will have a challenge making it though certain levels as there is a lot of platform jumping required. But if you’re up for a challenge and want to to relive some classic Mario moments with some friends, you’ll want to grab this game!

    The Good

    High fun factor
    High replay value
    Fun graphics and Music
    Awesome multiplayer mode

    The Bad

    Action pauses when someone dies
    May be too difficult for young gamers
    Need 4 controllers – time to shell out more money to Nintendo

    2nd-opinion-by-natalie

    I’m a fan of co-op games since my husband and I both get to play. Any time a game comes out with co-op, we’ll give it a whirl which explains why we played Army of Two voluntarily. So we were excited to see that co-op is a new feature in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. However, it’s not a co-op for the faint-hearted. Or those who want to stay in relationships.

    As Mike mentioned, the four of us who played the game are experienced gamers. But NSMBW (who names these games?) thoroughly beat us down. If there was a hole to fall down, I guarantee all four of us would jump into it like free bacon was promised at the bottom. I don’t think anyone was getting frustrated but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few temper tantrums are caused by NSMBW. However, getting through a difficult section without dying, or beating a boss together, was a sweet feeling. It was just like being in an army squad but with helmets that make you fly and psychedelic mushrooms.

    Another factor that will influence your enjoyment of NSMBW is how you play Mario games. Are you a completionist who wants to seek out every world or are you like me, a person who wants to just play the game, secrets be damned? There weren’t any fisticuffs over how we played but after a few more beers, perhaps that could have happened. But you know what? That’s also the fun of co-op. You have to make compromises just like in real life. You can’t always get shotgun.

    That being said, if you have two or three friends who understand that gaming is best enjoyed over a 12-hour marathon session, then NSMBW is for you. But if you have a significant other who doesn’t really enjoy gaming, don’t pin your hopes on turning them into gamers with NSMBW. That game is in another castle.

    • http://www.mikesbloggityblog.com mike

      Loving the game.

      Did you notice that when you stand beside pipes now, things still come out of them. They used to stay in until you weren’t beside them, but now the munching plants come out all the time!

      Also, the multi-player is great, but once your friends leave and you continue to play alone, is desperately depressing.

      Mike

    • Mike Yawney

      I did notice that! And you’re right, while single player is solid, it doesn’t compare to playing with friends. Too bad you can’t play online!

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