New Super Mario Bros. Wii Review

It’s been three long years since our last encounter with 2.5D Mario on the DS, in a game that surprised and pleased us all. The classic gameplay felt fresh on the portable with the new visual spin and updated controls, and the high sales numbers reflect the quality of the product. Sure, the DS outing wasn’t without its problems — being too easy with some mildly uninspired level design — but it was old-school Mario, dammit, and we were ready to take anything we could get. Now “New Super Mario Bros.” seems to be becoming its own series, which we all saw coming back in 2006. The DS version clearly paralleled Mario’s first adventure on the NES, so some of us were expecting the sequel to involve turnip-pulling gameplay, while others thought Nintendo would skip straight to the good stuff, letting us dress up as raccoons and frogs. Regardless of what we thought we’d get, we were wrong — no one expected a fully 4-player cooperative title on Nintendo’s mainstream console. The result? Endless entertainment.

The ‘story’ (for lack of a better term) begins on Peach’s birthday, and, originality be damned, she gets kidnapped again. But the twist this time is that the half-loved, half-hated Koopalings are behind the shenanigans! And they look oh so good in 3D. After the capture, in traditional style, you’re thrown right into 1-1, where the magic truly begins. While the visual and audio style is clearly that of the DS version, the overall charm has been ramped up significantly. Dancing enemies, bouncing landscapes, and colorful backgrounds give the game that certain aesthetic only offered by Nintendo. Even though fans of the original NSMB will find everything blatantly familiar, seeing the action in a progressive scan widescreen is truly a new experience.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

But who plays Mario for the graphics? It’s nice to know that after decades of business, Nintendo hasn’t lost touch with the most important aspect of videogames — the gameplay. New Super Mario Bros. Wii offers perhaps finer controls over the classic character than has ever been delivered before. Using the Wii Remote, NES style, you only have to worry about two buttons, a d-pad, and a shaking gesture. The familiar advanced moveset, like the wall jump, ground pound, and triple jump, are back with a few added maneuvers. With a quick jolt of the Wiimote, you’ll perform a spin jump when on the ground, and a little aerial float when in the air, much like pressing “Jump” in the air with the Super Mario Bros. 3 raccoon suit. Using a combination of holding the 1 button and shaking, you’re able to pick up certain objects and even other players, as well. At first, it’s tough to naturally react by shaking the controller in a Mario game, but after a few minutes it becomes second nature. (In fact, I almost snapped the top half of my DS when I went back and tried NSMB, instinctively shaking the system for extra control.)

Before I played New Super Mario Bros. Wii, I had serious concerns that all the extra control over Mario would make the game drastically easier, since the wall jump in the DS version saved me from virtually every pit I managed to fall into. Thankfully, the level design is so brilliant, it accounts for all the advanced techniques you can use, and accurately ramps up the difficulty. Not to mention the levels are much more grand in scale compared to virtually any older Mario game. Gaps are wider, obstacles are larger, and the challenge is greater. Now, I’ve heard a lot of people state that this is “the hardest Mario ever made,” and that simply isn’t true. Is it difficult? Absolutely. Harder than Lost Levels? Not even close. While I died quite a bit in the second half of the game, I was never in danger of a Game Over, and didn’t even experience the new Nintendo “Super Guide,” which takes control over your character and automatically guides Luigi through difficult parts. I’d probably put the overall difficulty somewhere between Super Mario World and the original Super Mario Bros.

But everything you know about Mario is thrown out the window when you add 3 extra players into the mix. In my experience, the difficulty fluctuates completely depending on the type of people you play with. My first multiplayer run through was genuinely a carefree walk in the park, as we all cooperated, shared items, and saved each other from certain doom. Even when a character dies, they respawn a few seconds later, trapped in a floating bubble. Simply ‘tag’ your teammate to let him back into the action. But in a somewhat odd move by Nintendo, they included the ability to go into invulnerable “bubble mode” with the simple press of the A button. This means that if you or a teammate is about to face certain doom, from an enemy or a pit, they can escape death by pressing A and returning the group. Using this method also makes hard-to-reach coins easily attainable without risking anything besides your own pride. Of course, all it takes is one dirty player who keeps stealing all the items, throwing you in the lava, and running away from your bubble to significantly ramp up the overall challenge.

Admittedly I wasn’t too thrilled about the new items available, especially considering the mini and mega mushrooms simply felt too gimmicky in NSMB. A trait I look for in a good item is versatility, like the Tanooki suit or cape from Super Mario World. But propellers? A penguin suit? Well, to my surprise and delight, I found the new power-ups to be imaginative and extremely useful. The propeller allows Mario to quickly float upwards, almost like a super jump, which can be pulled off in the air or from the ground. This makes for some excellent saves when you miscalculate a jump, or some tricky maneuvers when snagging low Star Coins. What’s more is by continuously shaking the Wiimote, you fall at a much slower rate, gently gliding to the ground, much like the raccoon tail.

Now the penguin suit, well, that’s arguably the best new powerup since the wing cap. Not only do you gain the ability to quickly tummy-slide and shoot ice balls that freeze enemies, exactly like the newly added ice flower, but you gain perfect traction in slippery areas, and perfect swimming capabilities. And let’s be honest with each other for a second; swimming is clearly the worst part of Super Mario — nay — any videogame that incorporates it. The penguin suit strips swimming of all the clunkiness and awkward controls and makes it a legitimately fun experience, almost as if you were playing a Mario level with zero gravity. At one point, I instinctively attempted to run off of a little island and hold ‘right’ and ‘down’ while heading towards the water. The result? I surfed across the skin of the ocean right to the very end of the level. Seriously, I love the penguin suit.

While a great deal of the music from the original DS game has been recycled and revamped, about half of the fairly robust soundtrack is completely original. Some might be put off by the sample-based songs in comparison to Galaxy‘s fully orchestrated score, but frankly, I love it. Some games simply wouldn’t feel right with full orchestration, and NSMBW is one of them. The happy, upbeat, and borderline midi soundtrack feels right at home, and while it may not be the ear candy you’re use to when floating around planets, it’s completely fitting and disturbingly catchy. Not to mention, I just love watching the Koopa Troopas stop to dance to the beat of the music.

In typical Mario fashion, NSMBW has a grand total of 8 worlds, each with its own personality and charm. While you can certainly clear the whole game in one evening, collecting all of the Star Coins might take a few extra hours for most players (and trust me, you definitely want to collect all of the Star Coins). In this day and age, the average ADD gamer will crush through a game and never look back unless there’s some added incentive. Unfortunately, once you’re completely finished, there’s very little reason to go back, unless you have some immediate friends wanting to play. Obviously an online mode would have been clutch, but we’ve sadly come to expect this dearth from Nintendo by now. With the exclusion of online leaderboards, no replays, and nothing more than Star Coins to collect, only the true fans of Mario will keep coming back for more. That being said, the entire experience, start to finish, is truly something magical, and there’s really no excuse for any Wii owner to pass it up.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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