New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Mario is one of the world’s most recognisable characters in the video game history if not the entertainment industry as a whole. This is some achievement for a fat Italian plumber who first appeared trying to save his girlfriend from a giant monkey. The man can turn his hand to anything, painting, playing sports, driving go-karts, and still finding time to save the princess. Just about the only thing he hasn’t done is fix that leaky pipe that’s been flooding the Mushroom Kingdom for the last 25 years or so.
Proven in the 4 fully fledged 3D titles he has appeared in since the N64 launched, Mario has accomplished something his rival – the little blue hedgehog Sonic has yet to reach – a successful transition from 2D to next generation. From the moment Mario’s interactive face popped up on the screen in Super Mario 64 players and critics alike agreed that Nintendo had brought something special to the table. Yet Shigeru Miyamoto was keen to bring the Mushroom Kingdom back to its roots.
The Nintendo DS was used as a test subject and introduced fans and players to New Super Mario Bros. This was the game that brought back the side scrolling adventure with elements and graphics of the 3D games. What resulted was a return to form and one of the fastest selling games on the Nintendo DS only to be eclipsed by the Pokémon series.
Following on from this success, Miyamoto was quick to bring the title to the Wii. In just 12 short months New Super Mario Bros: Wii was released to the world. The story focuses on Peach being kidnapped by the Bowser clan in an elaborate plan involving a birthday cake. It is up to Mario and Luigi with the help of Blue and Yellow Toads to once again give chase and rescue the princess.
The familiar Mario format is used, a world map presented with an assortment of playable levels. Mushroom houses, once entered have little mini-games to earn extra lives. Enemies can now appear on the map and if encountered prompts Mario to battle a giant version of that enemy – usually to rescue a captured Toad. In true Mario style there is a mini castle at the half way point in the world and a larger one at the end. The bosses in the castles take the form of the Koopalings – the rough, tough offspring of Bowser that haven’t been seen since the SNES era and Bowser Jr who has been a regular bad guy since Mario Sunshine.
A wealth of new features are included such as the Propeller Mushroom, which makes players take off and fly once they shake the Wii Remote. The Ice Flower power-up is also new, which when used freezes enemies who are then able to be picked up and carried. These appear along side old classics such as the Fire Flower and Power Star. Along with the power ups is a great new feature for those who are struggling is the introduction of a help system. If a player dies more than 8 times in a level, a video featuring Luigi will play showing how to complete the level. He won’t however show you how to get any of the large coins or secret pipes. It is optional though, so stubborn players don’t have to view it if they do not want to.
The game is presented in the same 2.5 dimensional style of the DS version. With the added processing power that the Wii brings the characters look smoother and seem to flow better compared to the handheld version. The environments that are created are more colourful than the Nintendo DS and stand out really well on a large TV screen considering that we aren’t looking at HD visuals.
The music in the game is again a pleasant Mario throw back. All the familiar songs for the castles, underground sections, water levels etcetera are all back and have been updated to bring them into the 21st Century. Nice little in game features such as the Goomba’s and Koopa’s on screen stopping and do a little jig when the music reaches a certain point make the experience that little bit more enjoyable.
Nintendo sees everyone playing together with the Wii and New Super Mario Bros is no different. Up to 4 players can either compete or help each other through the story mode, taking on the forms of Mario, Luigi or the two Toads. To further help the journey Mario and Co can recruit the famous Dinosaur Yoshi to gobble up enemies and players!
Coupled with the idea of playing together, Nintendo have also made the control system very simple: the Wii remote is turned to the side, the D-pad is used to move the character, the 2 button is used to jump and 1 is used to run. The plus button brings up the pause menu. If Mario is sporting a fire/ice flower shaking the remote will send fire balls or ice cubes in multiple directions.
The levels are well designed and flow very well and has a steady learning curve with each world being harder than the last. There are frustrating moments but it all adds to the charm and thankfully are few and far between. The balance between making the game too easy or too hard is perfect. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the boss battles. They are built on the same structure, avoiding the boss attacks until you can jump on it’s head.
New Super Mario Bros is a must for anyone who enjoys the old SNES games, and also newcomers to the Mario world. Yes the story is the same as always and the bosses are a bit too easy but that taken aside this game ticks all the boxes and is hard to fault. With the extras that Nintendo have introduced, they feel well thought through and not just tagged on in a gimicky way. One suggestion to Nintendo is that they could have changed from two Toads to another character from the Mushroom Kingdom, even Toadette would have been nice.
Nintendo have made a game that is close to the Mario games of old but brought the 2D platformer to the hands of the 3D generation with the flourish and panache that only Shigeru Miyamoto and his team can pull off. If you are new to the Mario games – play this. If you are a veteran of Mario and his escapades – play this. This game is a must. Players will not be disappointed!