Review by RevenantThings
"Enough Nostalgia to Entice Gamers, This is a Great Addition to Everyone's Wii Library"
New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS was a very enjoyable video game experience. It was refreshing and nostalgic all at the same time, introducing a new generation to the simple platforming genre that Nintendo helped to create. After a few years, a sequel on the Wii was under way and fans hungered for information. While the DS game was inherently fun and a worthy challenge for even regular gamers, it was not without complaints from the fanbase. As the days for a new side scrolling Mario platformer drew closer, fans of the series, the genre and Nintendo alike eagerly awaited to see if their hopes for the 'new' series would come to fruition.
Enter New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii, a multiplayer (!) foray into the Mushroom Kingdom, featuring many of the series' favorite characters. Princess Peach is once again kidnapped by Bowser, who is aided by Bowser Jr. and his Koopa children (returning from a long overdue absence). Mario teams up with Luigi and two (unnamed) Toads to rescue Peach and bring peace to the world.
Unfortunately that is the entire basis of the story. A summary of a story should not be as long as the story itself. However, Mario games are not especially known for their storytelling abilities. Is this an excuse on Nintendo's part? Absolutely not. That however is more of a company policy rather than something to do with the series itself. So forgive the terrible story (if you play platformers for story, that is) and trek into the wonderful gameplay.
Because that's where the game shines (naturally) with its infusion of nostalgic themes and classic 2D Mario gameplay. Reminiscent of the original Mario Bros., Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World, the levels and enemies in this game are as diverse as any of its predecessors. Players will find themselves stomping on Goombas, racing past Fuzzys, and flying over Piranha Plants in order to reach the end goal.
One of my main criticisms for this game is the control system. The game can be played in two ways - using the Wiimote or using the Wiimote and Nunchuck peripheral. Unfortunately the Classic Controller is not compatible. This is due in part to the inclusion of motion controls (mainly used to grab/lift, fly, and operate machinery) in the game. However, it really can be cumbersome to do multiple of these at once. Partially due to the sensitive motion sensing, partially due to the game design, you may find yourself on a gear platform trying to lift a Bob-omb, only to find you can't successfully do both at the same time.
One of the biggest complaints I recall from the DS game is that there was no flying power-up. Well, Nintendo listened and gave a bevy of new power-ups (old and new). The Propeller-Suit lets Mario zip up into the air and glide (er, fall) down. It's not as abusable as some of the other flying abilities in Mario games, but it's definitely entertaining. The Penguin Suit and Ice Flower give the ability to throw snowballs that freeze the enemies (which creates convenient stepping blocks in many cases). Yoshis are back, but are more of a cameo as they are only available in a short few levels. The Penguin Suit also has the ability to slide deftly across ice and swim better underwater. The Mega Mushroom is missing from the DS game, but the Starman is still around to create havoc among the enemies.
The Koopa children also were something heavily desired by the fans - and Nintendo finally heard the call and included them in this version. They are introduced as bosses in the seven Worlds (mini-boss and main boss) and are clever and creative alternatives to the typical mini-dungeon featured in previous Mario games. While not overly difficult, they are surprisingly fun and it is enjoyable to defeat them in a brand new game.
As mentioned above, Mario is not entirely alone in his endeavors. While the game can be played completely in single player, the multiplayer aspect is just too entertaining to pass up on. Some levels may seem catered to the single player, but playing alongside (or in many cases against) up to three characters can be both chaotic and good fun. Players will find themselves bouncing off one another, lifting and throwing each other, and racing to the finish while they attempt every hurdle and obstacle that comes their way.
The challenges range from simple to difficult (in typical Nintendo fashion) and a few levels/Star Coins will more than likely make a number of gamers launch their controllers. I'm not particularly a fan of extremely enforced difficulty (wherein perfection is necessary for completion). This game suffers in this regard much in the same way Megaman 9 was received - difficulty in place of entertainment value. Yes, difficulty can make a game more enjoyable. But there's a limit, and there are at least a few levels/goals in this game that cross that limit.
The multiplayer mode, however, seems to throw that difficulty curve to the wind. Given the option of playing up to four players, many of these difficult moments can simply be passed thanks to a sacrifice. Having a character leap to their death in order to obtain an out of reach Star Coin still collects for the group - while the rest of the players can meander on their merry way. The 'Bubble' system (in which characters who die mid-level can return at the expense of one life if contacted by the player) is exploitable in this way and more.
Of course, Nintendo is targeting both hardcore fans of the series as well as casual gamers. And the 'Bubble' system is aimed more at the casual gamers, giving them the option to sit out through the level if they so choose to learn from their teammates. This is a good inclusion, but again, too easily exploitable.
Another method of catering to the casual demographic is the inclusion of Hint Movies and the Super Guide. Hint Videos are purchased by Star Coins and provide players with short demos on how to speed through a level, find alternate exits, or learn how to reach that seemingly impossibly out of the way Star Coin. Useful for all players (although rendering strategy guides useless in this reviewer's opinion), the only problem I have with the Hint Movie system is that there don't seem to be any known requirements on how to unlock them. I have beaten and collected everything (with the exception of one secret level) and I still have at least a dozen Hint Movies that aren't unlocked - some even from the very first World.
The Super Guide is admittedly something I have yet to experience (I can't help but brag how amazing I am at platformers, and how full of myself I am as well). But it works much in the same way the Hint Movies do - their availability is optional and designed to help gamers who find a particular level or two too tough. The Super Guide will come along if you die too often in one level and offer to show you how to complete it. The game will also give you the option to either complete the level for you or let you try it yourself, which is great for those who just need a suggestion or two how to overpower the enemies. You might even learn a thing or two about your own gameplay style from watching the Hint Movies and Super Guide!
The music is something I was sorely disappointed in. While mostly it includes a refreshing mix of a number of classic and updated Mario songs, they all mostly seem to run together and you'll find yourself quickly pushing the Mute button. The sound effects are great, the dancing enemies are great - the music itself is just annoying.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a terrific game (especially in the wake of the drought of good Wii releases) and is worth every penny for fans and casual gamers alike. The items are useful and fun, the worlds and enemies are diverse and the challenges can be tough. The gameplay is nostalgic enough to entice the players, but the secrets and bonuses will be hard fought for. On the other end of the spectrum, the music gets annoying very fast and the control scheme can be a tad troublesome to bear (not to mention the camera system in some levels will frustrate you completely) and the game's helpful additions may be too easily exploited.
But if you have friends who enjoy the game, pick it up as soon as possible and delve into the craziness that is New Super Mario Bros. Wii!
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/23/09
Game Release: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (AU, 11/11/09)
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