Review by DDJGames

"Absolutely the best game money can... rent"

Review in Brief
Game: A modern game created in the classic Mario 2D platformer formula. Lots of fan service mix with a game concept that is still extremely appealing.
Good: The best level design in the Mario series, plenty of fan service, same appeal as past 2D Mario platformers, just enough new elements to keep it interesting, incredibly polished.
Bad: Iffy motion controls, a bit too scattered in what old features it uses, simply isn't long or deep enough to warrant $50 to purchase it.
Verdict: One of the most fun games you could ever play. But considering it only provides about a week of play time (at most), it's hard to recommend anything but renting it.
Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: Anyone who owns a Wii should play it, but when you consider how much 'game' $50 will get with other games, it's only worth renting, not purchasing.

"Absolutely the best game money can... rent"

It was about 20 years ago when this humble little red-clad plumber burst onto the video game scene and essentially single-handedly saved the entire industry.

Over the next several years, Mario has been featured in more games than any other character. He is solely responsible for the popularization of the platformer genre. He's played basically every sport known to man. He's starred in multiple RPGs. He carried the entire video game industry on his back into the 3D era 10 years ago, and still hasn't slowed down since.

Simply put, Mario is video gaming. There's a reason why older generations still refer to video games as "playing Mario."

With the two New Super Mario Bros. games, Nintendo is attempting to recapture the magic of those early Mario games. In most cases, this is the type of last-ditch effort a company pursues to revive a dying franchise; but in this case, nothing could be further from the truth. Mario is as strong as ever.

So why now? Why create a decidedly retro game for a console that is clearly capable of doing something much more intense? For the answer there, just look at what the Wii was trying to accomplish. The Wii's entire objective was to bring video games back to the mainstream, the way they were when Mario first debuted. To do so, why not create a game similar to the original?

At the same time, it's also important that Super Mario Bros. is not the type of game whose appeal largely falls with age. The simple redundancy of Pong, Pac-Man and Space Invaders doesn't find the same appeal today, but Super Mario Bros. is fundamentally still a fun game.

That brings us to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, whose stated purpose is to be just as appealing as the original, with new levels, new challenges, new styles, but still the same basic framework. It's meant to appeal to that same broad demographic, while appealing generally to fans of the series eager to relive their early gaming memories.

Like its DS predecessor, New Super Mario Bros. Wii flat-out succeeds. It is quite plainly one of the most entertaining, enjoyable games released in recent years. It nails its purpose perfectly: it doesn't try to be too complicated or too deep, but it also does more than just rehash the old formula. It twists it just enough to be "New", and stays just faithful enough to be "Super Mario Bros."

It borders on being a near-perfect game. There are some minor flaws that I'll detail later, but overall it's nearly perfect. So why am I only giving it a 8/10? Quite simply, while the game is one of the most fun games you can play, it's still as short and shallow as its predecessors. That's not a bad thing at all -- in fact, it's part of the reason why the game is so great in the first place. The problem is when you consider what $50 can get you from other games. There's not another game that'll keep you more entertained while you're playing, but most other games will keep you entertained significantly longer.

So my recommendation is to rent it. It can easily be beaten fully in one open weekend, but there's really nothing in the game to make you want to play it after you've unlocked everything.

But enough of that. Let's get on to the nitty-gritty good and bad of this game -- because a great game deserves to have its greatness detailed, and there remain some minor notable problems as well.

The Good

There's no real need to mince words about it: New Super Mario Bros. Wii is simply a well-put together, well-polished, well-designed game. It doesn't do anything revolutionary, but the entire premise of the game is to not do anything revolutionary: it returns to the series roots and taps into that same old entertainment. But it's not simply an appeal to nostalgia that makes the game great: it's an appeal to the same entertaining elements that made games engaging 20 years ago and can still make games engaging today.

Fan Service
Fan service can be a blessing and a curse sometimes. The term means including things in a game solely because the player will think they're cool or funny, not because they actually add anything particular to the gameplay experience. A good way to think of fan service is to ask, "If this was the first game of the series that a person played, would they enjoy this particular element?" If not, then it's probably largely fan service.

Fan service is used in some reviews as a criticism. In a serious, plot-driven, realistic game, fan service can take the player out of the immersion of the game, and is sometimes seen as a cheap tactic to make a game more appealing than it is. But for a game like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, fan service is almost the entire reason the game exists in the first place.

There is plenty of fan service in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and significantly more than in New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. Nearly every level has some reference to a past Mario game. You'll see dozens of old enemies, lots of old world-styles, countless remixes of older background music and sound effects, and numerous references to old games in the basic framework. For example, the game returns all the way to its roots to end levels with the flag and castle that marked the end of a stage in the very original Super Mario Bros.

There's very little missing from New Super Mario Bros. Wii that you've seen in past games. There is a definite focus on the earlier Mario platformers (Wario does not make an appearance, though Baby Bowser does) as well as an emphasis on the console games over the other mediums (although there is a very clear reference to Super Mario Land very late in the game), but otherwise the game's levels could very easily fit in alongside any from Super Mario World 3, which is clearly the biggest influence on the game.

But although fan service in general is a positive element in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it does have a drawback that we'll get to in The Bad section.

Great Level Designs
The reason why Super Mario Bros. is an entertaining game isn't because it's fun to move a guy around, throw fireballs and jump on Goombas' heads. The level design plays a critical role in the success of any platformer game. If the level design is too complicated, the game will be frustrating. If the level design is too simple, the game will be monotonous. And if the level design is too consistent across the whole game, the game will be boring.

But the level designs in New Super Mario Bros. Wii are absolutely fantastic. They're arguably the best feature of the game. From the very first castle, the game's level design immediately grabs and captivates you with how it remains true to the series, while simultaneously very new. While the first New Super Mario Bros. stuck largely to pretty traditional level designs, the designs of levels in New Super Mario Bros. Wii are unlike anything we've seen before. Yet they still demand the same types of quick-thinking that have always been necessary. They are amazingly new and amazingly retro at the same time.

Just take a look at some of the new level devices that are in the game. Spinning blocks are an integral part; almost half the levels likely involve something spinning around, a mostly-new feature (at least when used in this capacity). They're not just about random spinning: they're wheels to walk on, gears to jump through, blocks to climb over, and land to propel off of. There's also pillars of sand that lift you up to inaccessible areas. There's wind that blows you, enemies, coins and other parts of the terrain around. There are platforms that tilt not only with the positioning of your character, but with the WiiMote's position as well. There's dark levels where realistic elements (candles, lantern fish, fireballs) provide light to the otherwise dark stage. There are bubbles filled with water to swim through. There are clouds that obscure parts of the level without blocking your range of movement. There is simply an amazing number of new elements in the game, all of which exist without changing the basic fabric of a Mario platformer game.

But perhaps the most amazing part of the level design in New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the ridiculous variety. Aside from the very first couple stages, there is absolutely no "generic platformer" stage. In past games there would be a couple levels per stage that were really unique to their environment, but most could easily be subbed out with a different set of terrain images and still exist as a normal platformer level. Not in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Nearly every single level is completely unique and distinguishable from the others. That's over 80 levels where each one is unique enough to be identified as "oh, that's the level with the interlocking gears" or "that's the level the giant flying sting rays." None of the levels are redundant, monotonous or simply a chore to complete because of how often you've completed a similar level before. The variety is simply amazing, and is likely the game's #1 feature.

...And Even Greater Level Designs
But there's another level of depth behind the excellent level designs in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It's important that they're fun, challenging, unique and memorable, but closer analysis reveals that there's even more to it that's pretty easy to miss.

First of all, the levels are surprisingly strategic for a platformer game. Many times, platformer games boil down to either mastering the control mechanism or solving small puzzles. Even the early Super Mario Bros. games relied on little more than that. And while all of New Super Mario Bros. Wii's levels can be completed that way, there are some surprisingly deep strategies that can be discovered if you take a step back. In one level where you're traveling on a boat dodging falling enemies, it's beneficial to instead swim under the boat. In another section, clouds are consistently obscuring the level, but blowing them away with spin jumps clears them out. And on another swimming level, while there's a natural inclination to swim straight and dodge the falling items, surfacing allows you to run along the top. There's quite simply a little more opportunity for thought, planning and creative solutions in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Aside from that, another brilliantly subtle element of the level design is how the levels often inherently introduce new features of the game to you. Each world has new terrain elements, and it isn't always immediately clear what their function is. In most cases, the developers actually designed the levels to make it clear early on what a new feature's role is.

For example, on the first level of the desert world, you're immediately greeted by a sand pillar. Seeing it, you're not sure what it is -- do you have to dodge it? Can you jump on it? Will it hurt you? Can you walk on it? Then immediately after, you'll see a Koopa walk across it. It's an incredibly subtle feature, but it instantly answers questions about how the sand pillar can be used, without needing some tedious tutorial or instruction booklet. And things like this are all over the game, introducing numerous new world-specific features without really ever making the player aware they've learning anything new. It's simply very intuitive and brilliant executed.

New Elements
But in order for New Super Mario Bros. Wii to be more than just a glorified level pack for Super Mario Bros. 3, it needed to do more than just rehash the old concepts. It needed to provide at least some innovative new mechanics and elements, without altering the basic gameplay all that much.

And here also, New Super Mario Bros. Wii succeeds. It provides just enough to make the game new and interesting without making it so new that it betrays its retro objective. There are a handful of fun new mini-games (as well as some old ones, too) and new level scenarios too, such as saving Toad by carrying him through the entire level to safety. And even more fortunately, these level scenarios are optional as well, allowing the player to avoid any obnoxious "escort" missions if that's not their cup of tea.

The new power-ups are excellent as well. While the power-ups are one element that could have been simply fan service as well, the developers opted for only two classic platformer power-ups -- the iconic Mushroom and Fire Flower -- and two more recent developments, the Ice Flower and Mini Mario. The other two power-ups are new: a propeller and a Penguin Suit. Both are a little strange, but they do still fit in pretty well with the over Mario theme.

The Ice Flower's New Super Mario Bros. Wii incarnation is especially cool. Not only can you freeze enemies, but then you can use the frozen enemy for a variety of purposes, including throwing them like a shell, standing on them to reach higher platforms, or hip-dropping on them to destroy otherwise invincible enemies.

World Design
Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced the world map, and every Mario platformer since (to the best of my knowledge) has made use of some form of it. For some it hasn't served a real practical purpose besides to be a graphical interface to choose levels with, but for the original and for New Super Mario Bros. Wii it actually has some relevance.

There's two things that are especially notable about the world map. First of all, like in Super Mario Bros. 3, there are dynamic areas of the world map that actually impact what you'll do; you'll run into times when an enemy on the world map is blocking your path, and you must enter a custom stage to defeat them and move along.

But this is improved more than just being a copy of the Super Mario Bros. 3 structure. Here, timing actually plays a key role. Even as you're just moving around the world map, you'll be able to time your movements to avoid certain obstacles. It's a really nice touch, and it's saved by the fact that the resultant level isn't long or annoying; this keeps this feature from just being an obnoxious hoop to jump through.

The other excellent element of the world design isn't in the world map, but in the overall structure. While the eight main worlds are all very different, they do hold a somewhat consistent structure that ties the game together as a whole. Part of this is that every world has a 'midway castle', in which you'll face the world's final boss for the first time. Then, in the final castle, you'll face the boss again, and while it will use the same skills, the terrain around the battle will change. This makes the sequence of battles incredibly interesting, as you're aware in the final battle of how to win, but must deal with additional obstacles and challenges to complete it.

Secrets, Secrets, Secrets
Ever since the warp pipes in the second level of the original Super Mario Bros., secrets have played a big role in Mario platformers. Recent 3D platformers have gotten away from this a bit, but New Super Mario Bros. Wii returns to these roots again.

Like the earlier games in the series, many levels have multiple exits, leading to paths that are nearly completely invisible on the world map. Using these paths allows the player to skip and jump over nearly the entire game for a speed run, but these secrets are well-hidden enough that it's entirely possible (actually, almost a certainty) that the player will go through the game with no idea of how to access them until they really investigate. That is crucial to the secrets being a positive feature as otherwise, completing the intermediate levels would be more of an unnecessary chore.

Peppered throughout the game are Star Coins, three per level. These form the other half of New Super Mario Bros. Wii's excellent suite of secrets. The hidden paths are the quicker, bigger secrets, but the Star Coins are where the game's real long-term challenge comes from. For the most part, most are easy to find, and somewhat easy to obtain. Many are far more difficult. But the reward for finding all of them in a particular world is huge, granting access to completely new levels. That's the one part of the game that encourages the player to return and play a stage again.

Polish
There's no other way to describe this final part of the game besides to just say that it's extremely polished. It simply has those finishing touches that make a game feel complete, dynamic and perfected. To put it in another way, these are features that make you think the developers reached the end of the development cycle, took some time to play the game, then went back and added in little details that simply make the gameplay experience just a tiny bit more enthralling.

They're minor features, but taken as a whole they really enhance the game. I'm talking about things like spin jumps and propellers clearing away the clouds, or Pows dropping hanging coins. In dark levels, the little tiny details that provide light, like fireballs and stars. Koopas and other enemies dance to the music in the background. All these things just make the game feel more clean, polished and complete.

One of these features is the applause. It's a simply effect, really: when you do something complicated, an applause sound effect plays. Now, how the game anticipated what is complicated is beyond me, but the applause is absolutely perfectly placed. It's as if it's placed intentionally to play every time you do something that makes you think, "man, I wish someone had been here to see me do that." It pats you on the back and makes you want to keep playing, especially when that portion has been difficult for you in the past.

This polish is the hallmark of Nintendo-published games, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii is no exception. It simply feels like a complete, well-done, well-executed game, which goes a long way toward hiding any underlying issues.

The Ending
No, I won't spoil the ending for you, but let me just say this: it's fantastic. It's the most satisfying ending sequence I've ever seen in a Mario game. It feels epic, it's fast paced and challenging without being annoying, and it just looks awesome. The music is awesome, the graphics are awesome, and what's going on is just indescribably fantastic.

I can't really describe how amazing the final sequence is without spoiling it, except to say this: before the ending, I was planning on giving this game a 7/10. The ending sequence on its own was enough to bump my overall review score to 8/10. It's simply that good.

The... Neutral?: Multiplayer
It's extremely hard for me to describe the multiplayer of the game. On the one hand, it really isn't as fantastic as it was billed to be. Playing the multiplayer game is at best no more entertaining than playing single-player, and at worst it's extremely aggravating -- and more often than not, it tilts more towards the latter. For the most part, the level design just does not make multiplayer a beneficial option over just playing alone.

But on the other hand, who cares? The multiplayer element could have been a pretty cool part of the game, but it doesn't actually detract from the game at all. You probably won't want to play the multiplayer element as anything more than a gimmick so it's hard to count it as one of the game's positive features; but it certainly doesn't detract from the game when considering that the alternative (no multiplayer) would have been perfectly acceptable for a 2D platformer.

The Bad

I'll go ahead and say, the good far outweighs the bad when it comes to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. But, there are still a few drawbacks that should be acknowledged.

The Title
New Super Mario Bros. Wii? Really? That's a terribly wordy title. I like the simple charm of tacking 'New' on the front, but couldn't we have done something more creative than just putting 'Wii' at the end? Realistically, Nintendo boxed themselves in by not giving the DS game the more natural title (in my opinion, it should have been called New Super Mario Land to hold true to the portable Mario games), but c'mon man. As a title, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the video game equivalent of Snakes on a Plane. Maybe the next one will be called Hey, Another Mario Game.

I'm not actually lowering my score because of this, I just wanted to rant for a second.

The Plot
Alright, I know, no one plays Mario games for the plot. Blah blah, our Princess has been kidnapped, blah blah, save me Mario!, blah blah.

But even by Mario standards, the plot here is phoned in. Super Mario Bros. 3 at least had the whole 'Seven Kingdoms' setting to it, and even Super Mario Bros. had Toad saying "Thank You Mario! But our princess is in another castle!" But in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the only way to describe it is that it's a parody of how simple other plots have been. Seriously, the opening scene explains in about 10 seconds, "oh hey, she's gone again. Better go get her!"

But at least the ending sequence is epic.

The Controls
Now let's move on to the actual serious criticisms of the game. The first one is the controls. There are several minor problems with the controls, and while none are particularly game-breaking, they can be pretty annoying.

First of all, the game phrases all in-game instructions in terms of a WiiMote without the Nunchuk. Don't get me wrong, it's good that they made the game playable with only the WiiMote as it makes mulitplayer much more feasible. But phrasing and explaining all the controls in-game in terms of only the WiiMote is extremely confusing. Considering the majority of game time will be spent playing single player, and given that I don't think anyone doesn't have a single nunchuk, it would have been much better to at least give a little more attention to WiiMote-and-Nunchuk controls. Not a major problem, but a minor annoyance.

Secondly, the controls often times just feel a little "soft" and unresponsive. It's not such a huge thing that you'll be bashing a button screaming "Up, Up!", but there's a definite feeling that jumping and running are a tiny bit delayed. It's especially presence when trying to change direction in mid-air, where momentum is now much more significant than it used to be. The problem is exacerbated by a much slower running speed than usual, making the player feel like the game is just moving a little slow. You'll get accustomed to it pretty quickly though.

But the most significant control problem is in the motion controls. The previous to points are minor annoyances, but this one can get really annoying. Like many Wii games, it seems like the developers felt obligated to use the Wii's motion controls just because they're there, and that never ends well.

Motion controls are necessary for a variety of parts of the game. Some of them are actually well-done: for example, many platforms in the game respond to the tilt of the controller. This isn't as much a problem because it's context-sensitive. You get to a certain place, you have to use a motion control, you get through it and you move on. In these cases, they're actually pretty cool, if a little bit aggravating in their sensitivity (or lack thereof, depending on how you look at it).

The problem is with motion controls that aren't context-sensitive. For example, spin jumps are performed by quickly wiggling the WiiMote. The control is tough to get the hang of because the 'activation time' is a little more separated between wiggling and seeing the result, and the control is so sensitively mapped that you can't scratch your nose without activating it -- which is especially annoying because it's when you're waiting on a platform to move or something when you're likely to put the WiiMote aside.

The same wiggling control is used for picking up items, and that is wildly non-intuitive. You have to hold down B, stand by the object, and then wiggle the WiiMote to pick up items. If you're not close enough or if the object can't actually be picked up, you'll spin jump, which can be pretty bad depending on the situation. Overall, the item-pickup control never feels like a natural part of the process; it's like you always have to pause a moment and be very intentional about grabbing an item. I'm not sure why it couldn't have been taken care of just with the B button like it has been in the past.

But all those would be forgivable if there wasn't one last major problem with motion controls: conflict. That's right, there are times when you're somehow supposed to use two motion controls at once. For example, on one level you're controlling a moving platform with your controller by tilting it. That's not bad. But things are falling from the sky and jumping up at you, so you want to move back and forth quickly, so you want to tilt back and forth really fast. But, if you do it too fast, you'll spin jump -- and because the platform is moving, usually you'll fly right off. There's really absolutely no reason why you should ever be asked to use two conflicting motion controls at once, but yet there are a handful of instances where you will be.

But still, that only happens on a handful of levels. It's annoying, but not game-breaking.

Too Many Abilities
This one kind of follows in line with the previous section, but that section was long enough already.

In most Mario games, Mario has only a handful of abilities. Originally it was really just running and jumping. Later games introduced things like wall-jumping, spinning, hip-pounding and triple-jumping, but for the most part a given game only gave Mario one or maybe two extra abilities.

The problem in New Super Mario Bros. Wii is that they drew from every other game, and thus basically gave Mario every default ability he's ever had. He can jump, spin-jump, hip-pound, triple jump, wall jump, slide, and a handful of other abilities too. The result is that the player never really grasps how many things Mario can do because the theme of the game (and Mario history) suggests that there's a relatively small subset of abilities. Then, the player runs across something that's seemingly unsolvable and has to consult a guide or the instructions, only to discover an ability they didn't know existed. But the onus isn't on the player for this mistake: there are simply too many abilities to recall, and when so many of them are rarely-if-ever needed, the player has no real reason to make sure to recall them all.

Difficulty
The difficulty of the game as a whole isn't a problem at all. It's never too easy, and even World 1 provides some challenge. It's never too hard either, as the player always feels like they can beat a section, and never feel like anything is downright not possible as in some games.

The problem is that the difficulty doesn't progress at all. Ideally, the game would get harder as it goes along, forcing the player to get better and better in order to keep moving forward. The final World should certainly be the culmination, presenting more of a challenge then anything the player has yet encountered.

But -- and this could just be my opinion -- World 3 is actually the hardest world in the game. Sure, World 8 is more challenging than most, but it's by no means the runaway-hardest World. And World 1 certainly isn't the easiest either. The game remains fun, and there's not a single level in the game that I can recall that's really trivial to complete. But the difficulty level remains fairly consistent throughout, and certainly does not increase regularly throughout the game.

Too Scattered
Along with the controls and the last criticism, this is the other most major problem I have with the game. In its attempts to feature references to too many different Mario games, New Super Mario Bros. Wii runs a severe risk of being seen as simply too scattered. In many ways, it almost comes across as a potpourri of Mario paraphernalia, as if they created a giant list of all the things they wanted to incorporate and then just sprinkled those things in with a salt shaker, rather than carefully placing them within the game.

The basic elements of the game are the same any other Mario game: he runs and jumps, there are ? Blocks with items, and the main enemies are Goombas and Koopas. But beyond that, it seems like everything from Super Mario Bros. history makes an appearance.

The problem isn't solely that there's too much, but that it's not featured in any kind of even balance, meaning that many elements seem to be just tossed in for the sake of having them rather than really fully featured as part of the fabric of the game.

Take Yoshi for example. Yes, Yoshi's in this game, in about four levels, and can't be taken out of the level you find him in. He's barely featured at all. You could come back a year from now and forget he was in the game at all. I'm not just saying this just because Yoshi's such a popular character: anything that's only featured as little as Yoshi will feel phoned in. The fact that he's featured so prominently in the game art doesn't help. (Side note: I almost titled the review "I've got a fever, and the only prescription, is MORE YOSHI!" -- but really, the lack of Yoshi itself isn't the problem)

Another example is the world map P-switch. Remember in Super Mario World for the SNES, a few worlds had giant P-switch levels that would create blocks in numerous stages? There's one of those in New Super Mario Bros. Wii as well. One. And it only impacts two levels. It's cool that they featured it, but with how tossed-in it is, it just feels rather out-of-place and contrived. This can be said for several other elements of the game. It plays well and is incredibly fun, but it does at times seem less like a cohesive game and more like a montage of Mario history.

Length & Depth
But finally we arrive to my biggest criticism of the game. While you're playing New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it's about the most simply fun modern generation game there is. It's plain, simple, good-ol'-fashioned fun, with just enough new twists and challenges to make it more appealing than just buying Super Mario Bros. 3 for the Virtual Console.

There's really no question that Super Mario Bros. 3 is the biggest influence on New Super Mario Bros. Wii; and there's really no doubt that New Super Mario Bros. Wii is at least as appealing as Super Mario Bros. 3. But is New Super Mario Bros. Wii 10x more appealing than Super Mario Bros. 3?

I choose 10x because that's the price difference now to buy the two games. For $5, you can buy Super Mario Bros. 3. For $50, you can own New Super Mario Bros. Wii. And yet, the latter game is really, at a very fundamental level, not all that much more than an incredible level pack for the former game. The graphics are enhanced, there's a few new power-ups, and the levels are absolutely excellent, but really... is it all that more than a level pack?

Video games are expensive, and while New Super Mario Bros. Wii is one of the most fun games you can play while you're playing it, it simply isn't big enough to warrant a $50 price tag when you consider what $50 will get you from other games. Think about how many hours you'll put into other $50 games: Any Legend of Zelda game's plot is significantly longer and deeper. Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart will keep you playing their multiplayer modes for years. Any Tales RPG will keep you occupied for weeks. And even the Lego games have so many unlockables that you can put a couple weeks into them.

But with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you'll spend a couple days beating the main game, a couple more days finding the Star Coins, and maybe one more poking around in World 9. I really don't know how this game could provide more than a week's worth of play time.

Now, this isn't suggesting that the game's plot should have been longer. If it was longer and more complicated, it largely would have sabotaged the game's basic appeal. Eight worlds is the perfect length for a 2D platformer like this, and I fear that if it went on any longer, it would have become monotonous. But still, that doesn't change the low amount of play time it supplies.

The Verdict

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is one of the most simply fun games I've ever played. It effectively captures the appeal and draw (if not the charm) of the classic Super Mario Bros. games. It stays just true enough to the series to be accurately called Super Mario Bros., but changes just enough to be called "New".

From top to bottom, the execution of the game is near flawless. The level designs are among the best ever seen in any 2D Mario platformer. The new mechanics and power-ups provide just enough of a twist to remain entertaining separate from just being a spiritual copy of the earlier games. The attention to detail and polish on the game is astounding, and the minor problems like the controls and somewhat scattered references don't come anywhere close to offsetting the quality of the game.

But the problem is that the game is short. It's part of the game's very fabric and appeal, and the shortness itself is part of what makes the game great. But it doesn't change the fact that the game is $50, and $50 goes much further on other games. Ask yourself, what's worth more money: 10 hours of an extremely fun game, or 100 hours of a very fun game?

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is short enough to be completed in a rental period (preferably on a three-day weekend). While you're playing, it's among the most fun games you could ever play -- but the fact remains it just won't keep you playing long enough to warrant the $50 price tag.

My Recommendation

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is an absolutely excellent game. It's one that every video game player should play. If you bothered to buy a Wii, this game is absolutely for you.

But, rent it. It's not that long a game, and $50 can buy much more game time on almost any other Wii game. The main plot is short, the added content is pretty short, and the multiplayer just isn't engaging enough to keep you playing for long like other multiplayer games. It's a great game to play, but simply based on the low amount of play time it supplies, it's better suited for a rental.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/24/09, Updated 01/03/11

Game Release: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (US, 11/15/09)


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