Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World: These are games that have shaped not only the platformer genre, but video games as a whole. From power-ups like the Fire Flower, Raccoon Leaf and Tanooki Suit to series staples like Luigi, Toadstool and “your Princess is in another castle” Mario and his games are legendary.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii feels about as close to a next generation version of Super Mario 3 as you can possibly get without completely re-making it. Once again the Princess has gotten captured by Bowser, and on her birthday no less. Of course it’s up to the Mario brothers and their pals the Toads to get her back.
Levels feel diverse while still fitting in with each worlds theme. Unlike Super Mario World, which was topographically the same with the exception of the cave and forest subsections, they’ve instead reverted to Super Mario 3’s themed world concept. World map enemies have made returns also, typically culminating in a “pop all the balloons without dying and you’ll get 3 mushrooms” mini game. You also spend seven worlds fighting off the infamous Koopalings, trademark abilities and punk stylings in tact. New power ups like the Propeller Hat (which puts Mario in a stylish track suit) and Penguin Suit are great fun to use and come in quite handy. Yoshi also makes a return, complete with his multi colored relatives and his double jump. The inability to keep a Yoshi for more than just the duration of one level is a total letdown. The game succeeds at remaining familiar while still feeling new and innovative.
But not all innovations are welcome. Let me get this right out of the way, 4 player sucks. Completely. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve always played Mario titles alone, but 4 player just isn’t implemented very well. Unless you’re playing with one to three people who are just as good if not better at Mario than you are, running around and bumping into each other constantly is annoying. This is made more frustrating by the needless incorporation of motion controls. Holding the 1 button and shaking the remote near an ally will pick them up. I can see how this is a helpful tactic, but support for the classic controller would have eliminated the need. There aren’t enough new power ups. I was expecting so much more. You get 3 new power ups, the two I already mentioned and a rehash of the Fire Flower – the Ice Flower, which predictably freezes enemies in blocks of ice. This just lacks the character that previous games have had. No cape? No Koopa Troopa shell? For as similar to Mario 3 as the game feels, this could have been a perfect time for callback suits. My other main gripe being that it’s simply too easy. Playing alone, by halfway through world 4 I had maxed out my lives at 99 (which, I might ad, causes Mario to lose his hat in levels.) I didn’t notice any discernible difficulty until I reached world 8 which, by the way, is a total let down compared to previous games. Also, don’t chalk this up as a gripe really, but Mario feels like he’s weighted differently. It’s not as noticeable at first, but you start to feel like he lands with more force and has more general momentum. It’s not bad, it’s just different.
Not exactly the game I was hoping for, honestly. It’s definitely a worthy addition to anyones Wii collection and a must play for Mario fans. But I think after how much I liked NSMB DS and Super Mario Galaxy, I was just expecting more. It feels like a love letter to Mario games past. But not one of those good love letters, moreso one of those awkward “hey baby, I miss you, don’t you remember all the good times?” love letters. Is it a blatant and cheap cash in on a franchise? Yes. Is it a nostalgia grab? Yes. Is it fun? Definitely. Final Boss Reviews gives New Super Mario Bros. Wii a 4.5 out of 5.