Review by Solid_SOAP
"Great game marred by decades old design decisions and longevity"
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
The Super Mario Bros. franchise is one of the most legendary in gaming, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. It's a series that has been going strong for over 25 years, and one that, for the most part, has kept it's line of quality consistent for those two and a half decades. So, when Nintendo announces that they have a brand new, side scrolling Super Mario Bros. game coming out for the Wii, it shouldn't be a question that people will be jumping for joy, right? Well, in some cases yes, and others no.
The premise of the game is exactly as the title entails, no strings attached; it's a new Super Mario Bros. game on the Wii, and it accomplishes exactly that, plus 4-player co-op. There are 9 worlds including one special world, each with over 8 courses per world. Whatever you're doing in this game, it's unmistakeably Super Mario Bros. Hopping and bopping through grasslands, deserts, haunted houses and more is just as fun as it was 25 years ago, if not more-so due to the improved controls. Anyone who buys this game will likely not be disappointed, especially if they have a buddy or three they'd like to play it with.
Gameplay and Fun Factor: 8/10
Like I said, this game is just as fun as the past SMB games have been, so there are no surprises here. For those unfamiliar with the Super Mario Bros. series (God help you), basically the game plays out like this; Princess Peach is kidnapped by the Koopa Kids, and it's up to Mario, Luigi, and two generic Toads to save her. As I said earlier, there are 8+ worlds with over 8 levels to play in each one. Each level is linear for the most part, but there are times in which you'll find a branching pathway that will give you a shortcut to another level on the map, or if you're lucky, will shoot you to another world entirely. The game progresses exactly how you'd expect, move left and right on the Wii's direction pad to move Mario or any of his friends, the 2 button jumps and the 1 button when held will make the character of your choosing rump. When equipped with one of the many power-ups the game gives you (Including the brand new Propeller and Penguin suits), depending upon which one you choose the controls may vary. When using the famous fire flower, it should be obvious that to shot fireballs you press 1, when using the propeller suit, you shake the nun-chuck to take Mario to the skies, and then some. The controls are extremely easy to figure out, even for the most casual of players.
The level of difficulty that the game presents its audience with will vary depending upon how seasoned a Mario player you are. If you're new to Mario and platformers in general, prepare for a dastardly difficult exposition, especially if you're playing with friends, in which the other players will bump into you, causing you to fall into one of the game's many bottomless pits, ultimately resulting in your death. For those who've been playing Bros. titles ever since they were little bros. themselves, this is a relatively easy title with no surprises. There are a few stages that should throw hardened Mario players off here and there, but for that group of people the only other way to challenge them would be to rummage the various stages for the 3 star coins each stage has. Collecting star coins unlocks various videos show-casing how to pull off extremely difficult maneuvers, as well as unlock the 8 secret stages in the game's final Special World. Star coins range from extremely easy and obvious to find, to frustratingly difficult. Some are hidden and force you to check every nook and cranny, while others force you to pull off a crazy jumping stunt. Either way, looking out for these coins will definitely up the difficulty that the game presents.
Lasting Appeal: 6/10
The game is fun while it lasts, but after you've found all the star coins and played the game in a co-op a few times, there's not much else to go back to. It's Super Mario Bros., and it really is a fun game, but for a retail release I expect more bang for my buck. Overall, the game is just as fun as you remember the original titles. Running and jumping is just as fluid and addicting as it was back on the NES, and this is a game that the whole family can enjoy together without resorting to playing mini-game shovel ware such as Carnival Games or Chicken Shoot. The only fundamental flaw behind the game's concept is how it doesn't really take any liberties to significantly improve upon the original games in a meaningful way. No matter how much fun you have with this game, beating it will only take a few hours at most (Around 5 if you attempt to beat every level), and it just doesn't have the production values or "wow factor" that a $50 game should, which makes me believe that this should've been a $10 or so purchase on WiiWare, as opposed to a full on title. I am aware that the reality of it is that this sold better than most Mario games have in years based on concept alone, there is obviously a widespread market for a game like this. I just feel that for those who purchase games often, especially 50+ hour adventures, might want a little bit more out of this game than it provides.
Graphics and Sound: 6/10
Another problem with this game is its presentation. The game is by no means an ugly one, each level is set up of pretty clean looking textures and prerendered sprites that are easy on the eyes and aren't technically all that offensive. Thing is, these are the kind of visuals I come to expect from a WiiWare or iPhone app, not a $50 retail purchase. Nintendo's other Retro Revival games such as Donkey Kong got the right idea to not only imitate the game's original art style, but to reimagine and improve upon it. In other such games your eyes are ever so delighted with fully 3D environments full of moving and lively geometry, making each level memorable and new. NSMBWii, however, simply takes world tropes from previous Mario games (Including shot-for-shot the exact same worlds from the DS version), puts together a set of textures and sprites to make each world appear to have a bit more depth, and calls it a day. This leads the game to look extremely flat and lazy with little imagination to feast your eyes on, which is made even more sloppy when you see that Nintendo gave each character in the game 3D models, so you have these 3D characters interacting with a 2D world, it just doesn't work well. It's a surprisingly lazy effort on Nintendo's part, which is really a shame because they've brought us great looking Mario games on the same console, such as the Galaxy games.
The sound, keeping in motif with the graphics, is also pretty forgettable. Again, there's no flat out "BAD" tunes in the game, but there are very few memorable songs in the game at all. Many of the songs are lightly remixed songs from the DS version, as well as previous Mario games, most prominently Super Mario Bros. 3. The game's remixes might have you tapping your foot one minute, then lulling to sleep the next. It's quite a shame that Nintendo skimped out as much as they did on the graphics and music of this game, because despite it's longevity, the game is a ton of fun and emulates the 2D Mario games to a tee, if it had a memorable soundtrack and impressive visuals I would be more eager to suggest this title to those weary of buying an outdated or short game.
For all of the problems I have with this game, I can't call it a bad one. It's extremely short with lazy visuals and music, but the core gameplay gets exactly everything you could want out of a 2D Mario game one hundred percent correct. If you can find this game at a bargain of $30 or less, don't hesitate to pick it up, especially if you have friends to play it with. However, if you're looking for a game that will last you a while, wait for a price drop. It's a fun experience that is even more fun with friends, if a bit hectic, but the reality of it is that Nintendo released a game that could have easy been released as an iPhone app or WiiWare title for more than have of the price reduced and no one would have batted an eye.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/04/12
Game Release: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (US, 11/15/09)
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