Review by horror_spooky
"Party like it's 1991"
Video games more or less owe their current existence to Nintendo's flagship plumber and their side-scrolling adventures. If it wasn't for Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in the 80's, it is highly likely that gaming would still be dead to this day after the infamous video game crash. Not only did the game revitalize the gaming industry, it also transformed a genre and changed the world of popular culture forever. It also happened to spawn quite a bit of spin-offs and sequels that expanded on the side-scrolling adventures of the Mario brothers. For roughly eighteen years now, Mario's new side-scrolling adventures have been restricted to handhelds. Nintendo has finally given Mario a proper side-scrolling outing on their latest console, the Nintendo Wii, and in the process they have created one of the best games of the entire generation.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a sequel to New Super Mario Bros., a game that was released for the Nintendo DS that was highly popular. The game plays like old school Mario games in the sense that you start at the left side of the screen (generally speaking) and you have to make your way to a flagpole to complete the level. This is highly simplifying things of course, but that's the gist of it.
As you make your way through the levels, you will collect power-ups and coins; you will find dinosaurs called Yoshis to ride; you will jump on the heads of a variety of enemies from Mario's past and some new never before seen creatures; you will find secret areas; and most importantly, you will discover the thing that has made gaming as respectable and amazing a medium as it has become: pure and simple fun.
The classic Mario formula is intactthere's no need to worry about that. However, Nintendo has turned everything on its head and has added a new level of entertainment to the game that really blows past Mario titles out of the freaking water. Instead of taking turns with a friend with one of you controlling Mario and the other controlling Luigi, New Super Mario Bros. Wii allows up to FOUR players to play through the entire game simultaneously. The result is a ridiculously entertaining adventure that is even more replayable than ever before.
You and your friends can battle through every single world the game has to offer. You all have your own set of lives, but you all share the same platforming moves and can use the same types of power-ups to make getting through the levels a lot easier. You can drop-in and drop-out of the game at any time on the world map, too. However, it's not just a glorified solo effort. Working together and trying to play through the levels in harmony is sometimes necessary in New Super Mario Bros. Wii during its co-op mode as the game demands a level of determination and skill that harkens back to the old days of Mario when video games truly tested your abilities.
The co-op multiplayer is deeper than just running through the levels together as well. Whenever you hit a block with a power-up inside, the number of power-ups that fly out depend on the number of players. You can interact with your partners as well. For example, if one person seems to be lagging behind and can't get their timing right on a series of platforming obstacles, you can simply walk over to them, hold the 1 button (you hold the Wii remote sideways like an old NES controller), and then shake the Wii remote to pick them up! You can get really creative and have a lot of fun using your partners as platforms to reach previously unreachable areas and if you feel like being a jerk, you can simply pick your partners up over your head and throw them over the side of a cliff.
The level design in New Super Mario Bros. Wii is impeccable. While I felt the DS version was lacking, Nintendo really stepped up their game here. Every single level is a blast to play, especially the later levels, and as the difficulty climbs to overwhelming heights, the game becomes even more fun. It's packed to the brink with nostalgia and the challenge that the game presents only helps solidify its place as one of the best titles in video game history.
The levels are separated by worlds and an overworld map. As you travel across the map, you will sometimes bump into enemies that will take you to a mini-level of sorts. Here you collect balloons in order to earn a few extra mushrooms for your inventory. You can also visit Toad houses to play mini-games like a matching game to earn even more power-ups for your inventory. You can use items from your inventory at any time on the world map. You can also visit Princess Peach's castle via the world map.
What would the point of traveling to Peach's castle be though? Well, you can buy hint videos here using the Star Coins that you can collect in the levels as currency. These hint videos can actually be pretty impressive and helpful. The Star Coins are generally hard to find in the levels, and they, along with secret goals and other ways to skip around the world map to different levels give gamers plenty of reasons to replay some of their favorite levels over and over again.
Like I've mentioned multiple times throughout this review, the difficulty level in New Super Mario Bros. Wii is rather high. Each level has a mid-level checkpoint that is very, very helpful, but the levels are designed in a way to make the game extraordinarily difficult and also extremely satisfying once you conquer the game's hardest levels. You are only allowed to save after you conquer a mini-castle, a big castle, or defeat Bowser Jr. on a Super Mario Bros. 3-style gunship. If you lose all of your lives, you have to start back at the place where you last saved and you lose all of the power-ups you have been stocking up in your inventory. A pain in the ass? You bet'cha. Games these days are generally too easy. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a breath of fresh air.
So, what about those power-ups I've been jawing about? New Super Mario Bros. Wii provides plenty of different power-ups to collect. The fire flower returns and the ice flower from Super Mario Galaxy makes a modified appearance in the game as well. Many of the favorite power-ups are included, but there is a particularly useful new power-up that allows you to propel yourself into the air like a helicopter to reach new areas and snag elusive coins.
You propel yourself with this suit by shaking the Wii remote, which is obviously a utilization of the motion control technology. The game uses motion control in other ways as well. There are beams that you have to control by tilting the Wii remote in some of the game's twitchiest segments. Some of the Toad houses require you to aim a cannon by tilting the Wii remote as well in order to earn 1-ups by popping an assortment of balloons. Whenever you die and assuming you have buddies still alive, you are locked inside a bubble. You can shake the Wii remote to make the bubble float to your friends so they don't have to go out of their way to save you.
Super Mario Galaxy proved that Mario can pull off a fantastic story. New Super Mario Bros. Wii follows in the suit of its predecessors in that the storyline is rather simplistic in nature. Basically, during Princess Peach's birthday, the freshly healed group of Bowser's children (yes, the Koopalings finally return) crash the party along with Kamek and Bowser Jr. They kidnap Peach and it's up to Mario, Luigi, and a couple of Toads to try to save Peach and the entire Mushroom Kingdom. There are cool cut-scene moments, mostly at the end of the game, and the plot actually doesn't turn out to be pointless like some of the older games, but it still could have been better. This is one of New Super Mario Bros. Wii's very, very rare flaws, but it's so minute that it doesn't really affect the overall gameplay experience in a negative way.
Providing graphical effects and beautiful background visuals, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is quite beautiful. It rivals Mario Galaxy in its graphical presentation. There is no lag and no slowdown at all, no matter how much chaos is going on at any time. The character models are all very impressive and the game is free of glitches of any sort. There's no freezing and no crashing. The game is uber impressive technically and visually, with bright colors and nice effects throughout the entire adventure.
The musical score is on par with the graphics. That's right, the music is awesome, like always. There's a ton of new tunes and plenty of quirky new lines that all your favorite Mario characters utter. That sounds weird to be praising so much, but you'll simply fall in love with the audio presentation like no video game before it. There are plenty of classic Mario tunes to be had here as well, with the level finale music from the original Super Mario Bros. prominent. There's nothing to hate here. It's perfect.
With the game's high level of difficulty, a straight run-through will potentially last around eight hours. That's a LOT of playtime for a side-scrolling Mario game, and after you beat the final boss, that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are a ton of secrets to find, hidden levels, Star Coins to collect, and on top of all that you'll simply want to play the game over and over again for sheer enjoyment. That's how fun it is. The co-op capabilities also sky rocket the game's replayability to levels unfounded in previous games, not to mention there are a couple of other multiplayer modes as well. There's a free-for-all mode and a rather entertaining coin battle where the goal is to have the most coins by the end of the stage. There are levels made specifically for these modes and you can also play through any level you've beaten in the main game as well, providing for a lot of multiplayer fun that adds even MORE hours of enjoyment on top of what the game already provides.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a masterpiece. It's a giant slice of nostalgia sprinkled with the best gaming mechanics and features in any Mario game. The only issues I have is that the storyline could be better, it would be nice to see the versus mode from the original New Super Mario Bros. make an appearance as that was awesome as hell, and it would be nice to see more motion control-oriented video games. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is still a phenomenal game on every level even without these features, but these are simply suggestions for a sequel. This is what video games are about, and this is the definitive game of the year. New Super Mario Bros. Wii will blow your mind and will become your new favorite Mario game, and new favorite side-scrolling platformer ever.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/04/10
Game Release: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (US, 11/15/09)
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