"Mario returns and takes a step back into 2D"
It all started 28 years ago, when the game Donkey Kong was made. Back then, Mario was still called Jumpman. Forward 5 years later, Nintendo had created a new game, Super Mario Bros., with the same character as in Donkey Kong. This character, now named Mario, is a small Italian plumber with a red cap and blue overalls.
Super Mario Bros. is the game that made history. It is a 2D sidescrolling platformer that had a simple concept of Mario jumping on enemies to defeat them, and if he gets hit by an enemy, he would lose a life. Mario is widely known and accepted as the most iconic video game character. Appearing in 116 distinct titles, he has the title of most games a character has appeared in. The Mario series also holds the record for best selling game series with a huge total of over 200 million units sold.
It has been a long time since we had a 2D Mario game, since the appearances of 3D titles like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, the number of 2D Mario games have been decreasing. The last 2D Mario game we had was New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS in 2006. It was a solid game true to the Mario series, but it also had it's fair share of shortcomings and downfalls, the most major complaint was it being too easy and quite short. Many fans have hoped for another Mario game that is more challenging and longer. Here we are now, after 3 years, with another 2D Mario game right in front of us, New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
As it was announced, many people just thought that it was a remake of the DS game with multiplayer (yes, multiplayer). But it is not. It is brand new game for the Wii that had many excited until it's release this November.
The most significant change from the previous Mario (or all the Mario games, for that matter) is that it now can be played by 4 players simultaneously. Yes, you may be thinking "How could they possibly do that?" but they did it, even though I also wondered that at first. Many of us were skeptical, we were wondering about how they could make four players play on the screen at the same time. It could get pretty chaotic at times, as the levels were really designed for single-player games only, but the multiplayer part of the game is undoubtedly the highlight of the game.
Today is Princess Peach's birthday! Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad and Yellow Toad are all in the castle celebrating. Suddenly, a gigantic cake is pulled into the castle. As Peach and the others look at it, Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings suddenly leap out of the cake! They kidnap Peach, place her in the cake, and carry her away! They escape on their airship and flee to the castle. Confused, Mario and the gang set out on an adventure to rescue the Princess from the evil clutches of Browser Jr. and the Koopalings. Two Toads in the castle launch the Penguin Suits and Propeller Mushrooms in a cannon, scattering them around the worlds.
This game did for the Wii what Super Mario Bros. did for the NES. It made a game that had exceptional controls, is easy to learn, gives a good challenge without making the player feel cheated along the way, and most of all, the most important part of a game, that playing it was actually fun.
System - 9.6/10
The 2D Super Mario Bros. series is known for it's innovative game system. You start out as Mario, who is small in size and very vulnerable to enemy attack. One hit and it's all over for Mario. Mario can also be killed if he falls down a pit or in lava. There are a large variety of enemies, and all of them have a different method to defeat.
The Goomba, which looks like a brown mushroom with eyes and a mouth, is the most basic form of enemy. One stomp on it's head and it's all over for it. His only method of attacking you is walking into you (or occasionally falling on top of you). Goombas never stop walking until they reach a wall, in which they turn around, or fall into a pit. The Koopa, a turtle, takes one hit to make them retreat into their shells, and another to send them spinning into a pit or other enemies.
To strengthen Mario, there are a large number of powerups to be used. 6 powerups are returning form other games and 3 or them make thier debut in this game. The are mostly gotten when you hit a ? Block, but some are found in brick blocks. The returning powerups are the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Yoshi Egg, Mini Mushroom, Starman and the 1-Up Mushroom. The new ones are the Ice Flower, Penguin Suit and Propeller Mushroom.
The most basic of all powerups, the Super Mushroom makes Mario grow twice his size and become Super Mario. This allows him to break brick blocks and allows him to take an extra hit from an enemy. When Super Mario gets hit, he reverts back to Mario. The Fire Flower and Ice Flower enable Mario to throw fireballs and snowballs respectively. The Penguin Suit is the same as the Ice Flower, however he can also belly-slide on ice. The Propeller Mushroom enables Mario to soar high in the skies with the shake of the Wii Remote. Getting hit while Fire Mario, Ice Mario, Penguin Mario or Propeller Mario reverts him back into Super Mario.
This game also features the return of Yoshi. Yoshi handles the same as in Super Mario World, however this time he only appears in 5 levels in the whole game (WHY NINTENDO!) and you can't bring him out of levels.
The lives formula has still been left intact since Super Mario Bros. You start out with a set number of lives, and if you die, you lose one life. You can get extra lives by getting 1-Up Mushrooms, collect 100 coins, get some in Green Toad Houses and reach the top of the flagpole in levels. If you run out of lives, you get a game over and you are sent back to the last place you saved and are given 5 more lives.
The problem here, however, lies in the save system. Instead of being able to save anytime you want, you have to beat a tower or castle to be able to hard-save. You can, however quicksave anytime you wish at the world map menu. A quicksave is like a hard-save, except if you load it, it is deleted from the system when it is loaded, and therefore can only be loaded once.
Controls - 9.1/10
The controls are very similar to Super Mario Bros., it is played with 2 buttons and a D-Pad, and they work almost flawlessly. The D-Pad is very effective, hold down left and right to make Mario move in that direction and press down to make him duck. If you duck while running, you will still move a bit for a second because of the momentum. The 2 Button makes Mario jump. The longer you hold down the button, the higher and longer Mario will jump. Holding down the 1 button makes Mario run. Mario will move much faster when running. If you jump while running, the jump will be much longer than if walking.
Shaking the Wii Remote makes Mario do a spin jump. Shake the Wii Remote in midair to make Mario spin and get a little extra air time during his jumps. Levels with controllable platforms are controlled by tilting the Wii Remote. It works well, but there are a few problems with it. Sometimes, the Wii Remote is accidentally shoken and Mario spin-jumps, sending him plummeting to his death.
Swimming controls are the same as always, hard to control and very frustrating at times. The controls are the same as the controls in the game Balloon Fight. Mario is very floaty in the water and he is hard to maneuver. You have to constantly press 2 in the water to make Mario float or he will fall in a pit or bump into an enemy. Enemies in the water can only be defeated my hitting the with a fireball or snowball. You will just get hurt if you try to stomp on an enemy while in the water.
Enemies in the water though are usually not aggressive, and will not hurt you unless you bump into them. There are, however, aggressive enemies in the water that swim fast and are hard to avoid. The controls can be remedied by donning a Penguin Suit. Penguin Mario is very agile underwater and can swim very accurately and quickly. He can also throw snowballs at enemies that freeze them.
Levels - 9.5/10
The level designs are great. They are 3D models in a 2D plane. There is a wide variety of levels in this game. There are 8 worlds total, each with 8-10 levels each. There is a grass world, sand, ice, water, jungle, mountain, sky and volcano. Although the return of fan-favorites such as Pipe Land and Giant Land are non-existent, the level designs are still great. Although not as creative as titles like Mario 3 and Mario World, the world themes are THE EXACT SAME as the DS version, only the order in which they are played are a bit shuffled.
All the levels are different and unique in their own way. none of them are the same, you will never feel like you are playing the same level twice. Most of the levels are basic platforming, but on different terrain. On the grass levels, Mario controls normally. On the ice levels, however Mario is somewhat hard to control because of the floor. He keeps sliding on the slippery platforms. The castles are among the best levels in the game. Their interior has a captivating atmosphere that coupled with the music, is just spectacular.
There are also very creative levels. There is the Parabuzzy level, where you have to hop onto one flying beetle to the next, with no ground to catch you if you fall. This is very similar to the same level in Mario 3. There is also another level like this in the game, however instead of Parabuzzies, there are giant flying Manta Rays. The mechanic is also the same though.
The ghost houses are more similar to Mario World now than the DS version. They are essentially a maze, with lots of doors that send you in loopholes until you pick the right one. All the ghost houses have alternate exits like Mario World. One thing though is that the levels are only designed with single player in mind, making multiplayer harder. They should have added new worlds though, like maybe a Space World. Having the same world themes for 2 games in a row can be tiring and less captivating to play through.
Multiplayer - 8.7/10
Nintendo finally fulfilled their dreams of making a Mario game that can be played with up to 4 players at the same time. Past Mario titles with multiplayer, like Mario 3 and Mario World, were played one player after another, taking turns. But this one features all the players working together (or not) to reach the goal at the same time. 4 characters are playable, namely, Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad and Yellow Toad. P1 is always Mario, but P2-4 could choose between Luigi and the Toads.
It could get pretty chaotic at times, taking into fact that the levels were really designed for single-player use only. More often than not you will be screaming at each other for messing jumps and other stuff. It all really depends on the crowd that you are playing with. If you are playing with more experienced Mario players, it would not be as frustrating and would be more fun. If you are playing with someone new to Mario, however, you will easily get annoyed as they chest-bump that first Goomba in 1-1 and constantly ask how to defeat that thing.
If a player dies in multiplayer, he/she loses a life and appears in a bubble. That player must shake the Wii Remote to get near other players. Other players must touch the bubble to pop it and bring that player back in the game. If everyone is in a bubble at the same time, they have to start the level again.
Multiplayer can be played in 3 modes, the adventure mode, Free-For-All, and Coin Battle. In the standard adventure mode, players can join and drop in at any time in the world map. If they choose to drop out, when they return they will have the same powerup and number of lives they had. The adventure is the same except that the blocks that contain powerups contain the number of 2-4 powerups (depending on the number of players). Each block also contains a "premium" powerup (if there are 4 players, 3 are Super Mushrooms and 1 is a Fire/Ice Flower). Free-For-All is a party mode.
You can play any level from any world that you have completed in any file in adventure mode. Each of you start out with 5 lives each and have to cooperate (or compete) to finish the stage. Once the stage is cleared, a results screen will show up, showing how much score each player has, etc. Coin Battle is a competitive multiplayer mode. The levels are the same as Free-For-All, except that there are now many coins scattered around the levels. When the stage is completed or everyone dies, a results screen will show up, showing how many coins each player has. The player with the most coins will get a crown in their win tally.
Challenge - 9.0/10
Compared to the DS version, the levels are a lot more challenging. It takes much longer to finish the game and attain 100% on everything. The levels are longer in this game and are harder to play through. The first few worlds are easy and can be considered a warm-up to prepare you for the later worlds. After a few worlds, the difficulty quickly picks up though and the levels get much longer and harder.
To make this game newbie-friendly, Nintendo has implemented a new feature in this game called Super Guide. The Super Guide is a green block that appears once you have died a total of 8 times in any level. Once struck, this will summon Luigi to play through the course for you. You can jump in the action at any time or let Luigi play the entire course for you. Once the course is cleared using Super Guide, you can choose to skip the course and move on to the next one, or clear the course yourself. Super Guide will not appear though while playing multiplayer.
To add to the challenge, every course has 3 achievement coins called Star Coins. This feature has been unchanged from the DS version, but now they serve a different purpose. They are well-hidden coins that are found in hard-to-reach places in levels. Sometimes, you may need a certain powerup to reach them. They are used to purchase hint videos in Peach's Castle. Getting 100% completion involves getting all of them.
This time, you will have to play through all the worlds, unlike in the DS, where there are split paths. This adds to the challenge of initially beating the game, as those worlds are some of the harder worlds in the game. There are also the cannons, they allow you to skip a few worlds altogether.
Gameplay is the best part of the Mario series. It provides a fun experience with almost anyone. Although with a few minor flaws, the gameplay here is quite outstanding.
Good Points: Effective controls, Great level designs, Multiplayer is fun, Much more challenging than DS version, Classic Mario game system, Yoshi, Well hidden secrets, Lots of powerups.
Bad Points: Yoshi is only in 5 levels, Swimming controls are frustrating, Multiplayer is chaotic.
Score - 9.4/10
New Super Mario Bros. Wii has good graphics and sounds for a Wii game. The graphics are roughly the same as the DS version, with updated sprites and textures. The sounds contain tunes from the DS version, as well as remixes from classic Mario games.
Graphics - 9.2/10
Nintendo is not really known for their graphics. For the Wii, however, this is about as good as it gets. Although not quite as spectacular as titles like Super Mario Galaxy or Zelda: Twilight Princess they are still very good for a Wii game. The graphics are about the same as the DS version, with updated sprites and textures.
The graphics this time are very smooth, they are not rough like in the DS version, but have the same animation style. The graphics are 3D in a 2D world. This creates a "2.5D" effect which was also prominent in the DS version. Mario and the others are 3D characters moving in a 3D environment, but only moving in a 2D plane (left-right, up-down). The frame rate is fantastic, even in 4 player mode, it never lags or slows down. Great graphics for a Mario game.
Sounds - 9.5/10
The sounds are a mixture of old and new. Some of the sounds come from the DS version, and others are remixed classic Mario themes. Most level themes, however, have that strange "BAH BAH" mixed into them. In not only gets annoying, but also makes the enemies dance, which messes up your timing and sends you to your death.
The 1-1 theme is a remixed version of the DS 1-1 theme. the underground theme is a remixed theme of the classic underground theme. The tower theme is the same as the DS version's. The castle theme, arguably one of the best in the game, is a new theme inspired by the castle theme in Super Mario World (you can hear it at times). The boss fight themes are nice remixes from Mario 3.
The sound effects are nice, Mario has those sound effects when he jumps as well as his voice acting. Mario, voiced by Charles Martinet, has the same voices and grunts as the DS version. The death theme, powerup theme, and fireball theme are the same as always. The other characters also have voices and grunts.
Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings have spectacular voices and grunts that very well suit their personalities. Their voices are among the best in the game. Yoshi also has voices and grunts; the same ones as in Super Mario World. Although not as plentiful as his sounds in Yoshi's Island, there are still a lot of sounds that are nice. He has the right balance of sounds.
Graphics are not really the staple of the Mario series, however here they are quite well done. Sounds are good as always, except for one minor flaw.
Good Points: Good Graphics, Remixes of sounds, New sounds, Constant frame rate.
Bad Points: Dancing enemies.
Score - 9.3/10
New Super Mario Bros. Wii will last you a long time alone for 50 dollars. Even much longer if you have more people to play with.
Playtime - 9.8/10
This game will last you a long time, especially if you are playing with friends. The main game takes about 8-12 hours of play time to finish, and is decently challenging. If you find the cannons though and choose to take them, it will cut a lot of the time it takes to finish the game.
Completing the game 100% though means a lot of hard work and extra time. It could take about 20-30 hours to finish the game with all levels and alternate exits, all Toad Houses, and all Star Coins. Playing the game in multiplayer mode definitely adds to the experience of playing the game. It will take longer (or faster, depending on the skill of the players) to finish the game with more than 1 player, but it definitely is a better experience.
After beating the game, there is still a lot of stuff to do here. You can start another adventure with 3 friends and see if you can complete it. You could also play Free-For-All mode or Coin Battle mode. Getting all the Star Coins is definitely a tough task to do. The reward for this, are Hint Videos. They are special videos played and recorded by the developers and Mario Club. There are 4 kinds of hint videos: Super Skills, Infinite 1-Ups, Star Coin, and Secret Goal. All of these are unlocked by trading Star Coins for them.
Value - 9.0/10
For 50 dollars, this game is worth it. There are lots of stuff to do here, especially if you have friends to play with you. Even alone, this game will take up a lot of your time. This game is very engrossing, when you can't play it will be all you are thinking about. The game is very compelling to play, it has this charm to it that makes you want to play till the end of the game. It makes you excited about what will happen next.
There is one secret in the end of the game that most people (especially Super Mario World fans) will love. It really makes playing through the whole game worth it. Even though you fully complete it, there is always something new you can learn about the game.
The game really is worth your time and money. It is a great game that can be played alone, with friends, or with family alike.
Good Points: Lasts long, Compelling gameplay, Very fun, Always something to do, Secret at the end.
Bad Points: Somewhat hard to find now, Less fun alone.
Score - 9.6/10
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a Mario game that is new and at the same time true to the Mario style of gaming. Although challenging, it is not so that it feels cheap or unfair along the way. Multiplayer, although not quite perfect, is defininitely a plus. Although with a few minor flaws, it is still a great game for any person to play with. The graphic and sounds in this game are top-notch and are very spectacular. The level designs are original and are not repetitive. The numerous amount of powerups are good and add to the fun of the game. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is among the most fun games you will play at this time. An excellent game. A worthy addition to any Wii owner's game library.
FINAL SCORE - 94.6
Reviewer's Score: 9/10