New Super Mario Bros Wii is Nintendo’s attempt to make Mario a party game without calling it Mario Party or making it suck. They succeed. But NSMBW is also a fun single-player experience, akin to Super Mario World, which if you believe THIS joker, is the best Mario game ever.
The plot is not exactly anything worth mentioning, but I will anyway. The Princess is kidnapped by Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings, which means that now all of Bower’s children have teamed up to make Mario’s life hell. Mario, Luigi and two unnamed Toads set out to rescue her, through 8 worlds filled with obstacles and enemies new and old. Stop me if you think if you have heard that one before. The story is inconsequential, which is how it should be. Remember that they tried to throw story into the Sonic games and we all know how that turned out.
Mario is all about gameplay and it delivers. The game is set up with the overworld map seen in Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World. Some levels have secret exits that, when discovered, open up new areas of the maps that lead to cannons which warp you to a later world. The control is tight, as Mario’s jump has been perfected over the years and it doesn’t change here. He can still do triple jumps, like in Mario 64, and they added a wall jump, which has saved my ass more times than I can count. The only motion controls found here are a quick shake to do a spin jump or launch yourself high into the air using the new Propeller Hat and occasionally you control a platform by tilting the Wii Remote accordingly. Both are done well and sparingly.
The levels are varied and colorful. The graphics aren’t going to blow your mind, but the game looks like the natural progression from Super Mario World. In fact, this game feels like the direct sequel to that one. Each world has a theme that every level exploits, such as an ice world, a tropical island world and wait for it…a lava world! Some things never change. And that is a good thing, if you ask me.
One thing that is different is, thanks to the power of the Wii, is the dynamic nature of the environments. Ever heard the term, “rolling hills”? Well, this game takes it literally, as the green hills roll and try to dislodge your timing. Pipes move up and down, platforms spin around and enemies are ever present. All of this makes for a challenging Mario game. Now that you will ever see the GAME OVER screen, as NSMBW is highly liberal with the extra lives, but you will die quite a bit.
Which leads me to that controversial feature, the Super Guide. All that uproar was for naught because I never even saw it. The only way you can lose it is if you die 8 times on a single level. While I admit, I came close a few times, I never died enough to unlock it. But if someone is having that much trouble, I see no issue with it and the hardcore fans should just deal with the fact that Nintendo wants as many people as possible to play and experience their games in full. So I have nothing bad to say about the Super Guide. If anything, it added an incentive for me to play better as I did not want to see the option pop up, thus maintaining my elite Mario skills status.
The other big deal is the multiplayer, which I did not mess with until I had completed the game. I took my Wii over to my fiancee’s house and played it with her cousins on Thanksgiving. And it was a blast, with one caveat: do not expect to breeze through the game with 4 people. This game, as already mentioned, is difficult enough when playing solo, but add in the chaos of 3 other people and you just have to smile and deal with it. The game pauses for a brief second when someone dies or gets a power-up, which has resulted in deaths many times over. Thankfully, as long as one person is still alive in the level, the others can be revived, which means you find yourself rooting for your teammates to clear that jump and bring you back into it. It’s a great addition to the Mario series and a fun way to hang out with friends or family.
Even using our new grading system, it is tough to judge this game. It doesn’t do a whole lot new, despite it’s title, but it gives us what we have clamored for: an old-school Mario game with updated visuals and gameplay. There are a few things that are annoying, such as the fact that you can only save after beating a fortress or castle, unless you do the Quick Save option. After beating the game you gain the ability to save anywhere, which is so pointless and so Nintendo-like that you just have to shake your head in amazement. Despite this, New Super Marios Bro Wii is a stellar entry in what is one of the most revered and popular series in all of games and if you have ever loved a Mario game, you should seek this one out. I doubt you will be disappointed.
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