Review by FeralBerserker
"Nintendo is keeping it real"
Since gaming went 3D back in the mid-nineties Mario has sort have been on the back of the bus. Sure, there have been Mario releases since then, but none of them really rang true to their 2D counterparts. I gave up hope for Mario games years ago (soon after Mario 64 was released), but after seeing a trailer of New Super Mario Bros. Wii (SMBW from now on) I was very interested. Despite all my doubts, Nintendo kept their sidescrolling Mario business real. This review assumes you have some familiarity with old SMB sidescrollers.
Gameplay Mechanics - 8/10
More or less, the SMBW plays like SMB3 for the Nintendo. You get an overview map to move around on and access different areas, and upon entering an area you will go into a sidescroller view where you must progress to the flag of the area. After beating an area (by touching the flag at the end) you will return to the overview map and can progress further. The overview map allows for you to take different routes through each world, and access side areas like mushroom houses or cannons (for warping to later worlds).
Other than choosing which routes to take, you can't do a whole lot from the overview map. You can travel to a different world that you've visited (i.e. you could go back to world 1 after you've progressed beyond it), visit mushroom (or star, or 1-up) houses, and use items you've acquired. Mushroom houses are similar to those in SMB3, you'll match cards to acquire items. The more cards you match before losing (by matching two Bowser or Bowser Jr. cards) the more items you usually acquire. 1-up houses will allow you to try and earn extra lives by shooting yourself out of a cannon at moving bubbles worth varying amounts of lives. Items you can acquire include mushrooms, fire flowers, ice flowers, propeller hats, penguin suits, mini mushrooms, and stars. You can use items from the item menu, and they will affect all players.
Mario's capabilities remind me a lot of Mario 64 in the fact that Mario can do way more than jump and crouch. Basically, you hold a Wiimote sideways and it's pretty much like a NES controller. The 1 button will allow you to sprint, the 2 button makes you jump, and the A button will turn you into a bubble. As simple as it is, being able to sprint or walk makes a big difference as you'll be able to easily move quickly or slowly (whether speeding through an area or performing accurate jumping procedures). You can press down on the D-pad while jumping to smash the ground harder and faster, this also stops you from bouncing after landing on an enemy. More than one player executing a ground smash simultaneously will result in killing anything on the whole screen (assuming it's land-based). You can jump off an allies head to bounce really high, and your ally can also bump you from below to give you outrageous height. By shaking the controller you can do a spinning jump (which will spit fire/iceballs on both sides of you if you have the ability to do so), this can also cause you to get a little more hang time if executed while airborne. By holding the run button and shaking the controller you can pick things up. You can pick up barrels and throw them at enemies, or pick up allies and throw them. Sometimes you might even find chopper blocks, which you pick up and it allows you to hover around like a propeller Mario. You can also press against walls while falling to slide down them slower, jumping from a wall-slide results in a wall jump. Wall jumping can save your life countless times, or allow you to get into some spots that you might otherwise be unable to access.
Turning into a bubble is something made for multiplayer. Basically, you turn into a bubble and cannot be hit and will float around randomly (including through walls) until an ally pops you. With two players (or more) some areas are done more easily if one person turns into a bubble and lets the other person do it. If you desire, you can shake the controller to make your bubble approach an ally faster.
Not only can Mario do all the things above, but when in a boosted state (whether from pick-ups or usable items) he'll have additional capabilities. A Super Mario (use a Mushroom) can take one more hit, and can smash blocks. A Fire Mario (use a Fire Flower) is a Super Mario that can spit fireballs and take one additional hit. An Ice Mario (use an Ice Flower) is a Super Mario that can spit iceballs and take one additional hit. Iceballs turn enemies they hit into ice blocks for a short period. As ice blocks, enemies can be killed in many more ways than usual, can be used as standing blocks, can be used as mobile cover or can be picked up and thrown for a variety of purposes. A Propeller Mario (use a Propeller Hat) can, basically, jump extremely high, falls very slowly, and can be hit once more than Super Mario. A Penguin Mario (use a Penguin Suit) doesn't slip on ice, can slide on it's stomach, spits iceballs, can swim faster and more easily, and can be hit once more than Super Mario. A Mini Mario (use a Mini Mushroom) can only be hit once, can run across water, fit through tiny pipes, jump very high and will fall very slowly.
Additionally, on a few maps you can acquire a Yoshi to travel with. A Yoshi can jump high, hover for a short period, do a ground smash, and grab things with it's tongue. By shaking the controller you can dismount your Yoshi, in which case they'll stand still until they are mounted again. If hit while on a Yoshi, you will dismount and take no damage (so a Fire Mario on a Yoshi would only get dismounted, and wouldn't revert to a Super Mario) but your Yoshi will run around in a frenzy and probably fall off a cliff if one is nearby. You can chase the Yoshi down and mount it again if you're able to. Of course, Yoshi are highly valuable for grabbing things with their tongue. They will kill anything they eat, and some enemies (like turtles with shells) can be spit out as a weapon. You can even eat fire spitting plants and spit out a fireball that pierces through enemies.
Throughout the course of the game you'll encounter all sorts of strange mechanisms that can be controlled (almost always) with the gyroscopic capabilities of your controller. Almost all variations of this are the same though... You will have to rotate your controller to make a platform spin or move the required way. Not all tasks like that are achieved by moving your controller, some may be jumping or timed P-switch procedures. You'll encounter plenty of strange things to impede your journey, such as icy ground, sliding/spinning platforms, lava, moving floors, rolling spike ball traps, and many more things. With all the capabilities of Mario, though, circumventing these areas will be more fun than tedious.
A huge factor in this game's enjoyability is the multiplayer experience. In previous SMB games if you played 2-player then one player plays a map, then the second player plays the next, and so on and so forth. SMBW, however, puts all the players (up to 4, now that's chaotic) in the same map side by side. Some areas are easier with multiple players, other areas are more difficult. Regardless, you can have plenty of fun on almost any map with multiple players, but be prepared for a certain amount of frustration. Due to the chaotic nature of some areas, players will likely kill their friends time and time again, whether on accident or purpose. Power-up blocks will usually pop as many power ups as there are players, so you won't have to be angry when you get the shaft on power ups (though players will accidentally grab multiple power-ups on a somewhat regular basis).
Miscellany - 2/5
Map design was pretty awesome, really. You won't just be running from left to right and hopping on the flag. Each map will include three Star Coins you need to collect in order to unlock an area in the secret world, so you'll have to worry about those if you want to play the entire game. Aside from collecting Star Coins, you'll need to take secret warp pipes and different routes through some of the same areas to unlock other areas (i.e. area 1-5 might unlock area 1-6 and 1-7 by finishing by two different routes). You'll encounter plenty of enemies and be able to find all manner of power-ups and secrets (whether secret blocks or secret areas). You'll be met with some fairly challenging jumping procedures where you'll be on a moving platform you can't fall off of (instant death) while dodging all manner of enemies flying towards you or falling on you. Basically anything that was in SMB1-3, Super Mario World, or the Yoshi's Island games will be encountered in SMBW, as far as map design goes. The Worlds are very reminiscent of SMB3, you'll experience the water world, cloud world, plant world, desert, lava world and all the other classics.
I don't think there were any new enemy types that I can recall, but pretty much any enemy type from a previous sidescroller Mario game is present. You see plenty of koopa troopas, green and red turtles, hammer throwers, barrel rollers, enemies on clouds, bullet bills, plenty of violent flowers, and all the other Mario classics. Enemy AI is irrelevant, as you can imagine. Enemies just move either back and forth or towards the other end of the screen.
Bosses were really true to their roots. You'll fight bosses at the fortress and castle levels of each world. Each boss must be jumped upon three times to be defeated. They'll toss bouncing balls at you which you have to bounce off of in order to gain the required height to hit the boss, or warp randomly between pipes and hop out attempting to stun anyone on the ground, or shoot magic projectiles at you, as well as many other things. And the final boss battle against Bowser... now that's one cool boss battle.
Play Time/Replayability - 4/5
For a Super Mario game the play time is pretty great. I can't recall how many hours accurately, because it was two sittings several days apart... but I'd guess the game took about 10-15 hours to beat in it's entirety (including secret areas). I had to replay a lot of the game to get all the secrets and whatnot, so that probably makes the game seem much larger than it really is. Still, I was expecting like a three to five hour experience, so I'm pretty pleased.
Replay time is alright, but not the greatest. Obviously, the game is very simple and relatively small with eight different worlds that consist of around ten areas. But since you can load up a completed file and play wherever you want whenever you want you can have a bit of fun with this game after it's been completed. You can also set out to do absolutely ridiculous things (like those in the Super Skills videos you can unlock and view during the game), which can consume a good amount of time.
Story - Nil
Er... The same as always, of course. Rescue Princess Peach, who was kidnapped by Bowser.
Graphics/Sound - Nil
The graphics are alright, but after playing Muramasa: The Demon Blade I must honestly say they could have been much better. There's nothing annoying or distracting about them, they're just cartoony. Some of the lighting effects were both cool looking and helped make the gameplay better, but I was hoping to see more in terms of enemy design. All the same, there's nothing really wrong with the graphics.
Talk about nostalgia. Nintendo kept their Super Mario sounds real. You'll hear the same jumping sounds, block breaking sounds and all that business. You'll even get to hear Mario say his usual things (It'sa me-ah, Mario) from time to time. Even the music in the game projects the feeling of previous installments in the franchise, and it's marvelous.
Final Recommendation - 7/10 Actual - 7
SMBW is a fun game, I think it's even funner than SMB3 (which I've played probably hundreds of times). Any hardcore SMB fans will definitely be happy with this, as Nintendo has kept the experience true to it's roots while still providing a certain amount of innovation. Obviously, SMBW won't knock you out of your shoes, but it's a good investment for both the hardcore and casual gamer.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/13/10
Game Release: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (US, 11/15/09)
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