"This game won't be new forever"

We all grew up and loved Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. But it has been a long time since we played a brand new 2-D Mario game. New Super Mario Bros. seemed like an answered prayer. For the most part it was although it can't compete with the classics but I doubt anybody was really expecting it to. New Super Mario Bros. did retain much of the old classic feel but it made sure to add some new fresh elements too. Although I found the lack of Yoshi very disturbing.

Storyline: Uh oh, Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser. Mario, it's time for you to go save her again. That is how it goes in the vast majority of Mario games, huh. It starts withal Princess Peach was doing was enjoying a nice walk in the land with Mario. But the damsel in distress had to get kidnapped. The one who kidnapped Peach was not Bowser but Bowser Jr. Didn't Bowser Jr. once think Peach was his mother. ………….How disturbing. Anyways, Mario jumps into action to once again save Peach. We've seen this story before. While it is classic, I kept hoping that there would be some twist or something that added something to this game. There really wasn't and I found that disappointing. I'm sure Nintendo wanted to tribute to the classic Mario games by retaining the same story but still, they could have done at least something…

Game Play: How is the game play to this new Mario? I found it to be pretty good. There are eight worlds with varied numbers of levels in each. Since the DS, Nintendo decided they had to do something “innovative” so they made it so you can travel to a different world by tapping one from the main map. Also, on the main map, you'll see different Toad Houses where you can get items. Hit blocks or panels on-screen to get these items. If you are in a green Toad House, you can earn additional lives by playing a simple mini-game that I don't really need to explain because an emu could figure it out. Like in Super Mario World, there is fortresses and castles. Fortresses are like mini-castles and you'll fight Bowser Jr. in each one. Sometimes he'll have a gimmick like lava or spikes so beware. Castles are where you'll fight the big boss of the land. There may be several fortresses in a world but only one castle. If you see a flying ? Block or a Hammer Bro on the course screen, then they will appear somewhere in that level. Like the original Super Mario Bros., your goal is to get to the end of a level and jump as high as you can onto the flag pole for more score points. A blast from the past.

On the actual level itself, Mario can do a wide variety of functions. He can dash, jump and duck like in basic Mario games but New Super Mario Bros. also gives him something else. Many side Mario games and recent games like Super Mario 64 allow Mario to use the ground pound. Well, you can now do that in this game. In addition to being able to use the ground pound, you can also now double dash by jumping while dashing and then quickly jumping again to perform double and triple jumps. You can slide down slopes for a cool way to kill enemies but the most valuable basic ability was the wall jump. While sliding down walls, press in the direction of the wall and jump to kick off the wall and jump upwards. This saved me often and is a good way to save yourself. What would a Mario game be without pipes? Don't worry, Pipes are still in this game and just like the old Mario games, they can lead to other parts of the level or to a secret bonus area. They're never necessary for the main game but you'll use them for secrets. You also can still have fun with Koopas by hitting them on the head and then using their shell to throw them at enemies or blocks. New Super Mario Bros. also introduces cliffs in which you'll have to walk carefully/slowly or else you'll fall off. If you do fall, you will hang and sometimes you will need to hang on purpose. When this happens, you can still move as well as being able to get back up at any time. Remember Super Mario World and fences? Well, they are back! You can still climb on fences avoiding enemies on the other side and through punching a panel on the fence, you can flip to the other side if it proves necessary. Lastly, vines are back in this game and if you've played any Donkey Kong Country games, ropes are in this game too with the ability to make you swing to special places.

Mario still has power-ups but they're kind of a mockery to Super Mario Bros. 3 and even Super Mario World. You turn into Super Mario with the help of a mushroom, as always. Returning again in the fire flower too which allows you to shoot fireballs from your hands and pelt enemies with them. The fire flower is actually quite powerful in this game, especially on bosses. A new item is Mega Mario (Well, maybe not that new considering SM64…) which is a mushroom that turns you into a GIGANTIC, MOSTROUS MARIO THAT CAN WALTZ THROUGH THE LEVEL DESTROYING ENEMIES AND PIPES ALIKE! Mega Mario is a pretty cool feature. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have mini Mario which makes you into a real small Mario. You aren't dangerous and mini Mario but you can go into small crevices and pipes to unlock features. Mini Mario is imperative for unlocking 2 extra worlds. Lastly, we have Shell Mario which allows Mario to use a shall dash to crash into enemies. This one is new, but nothing compared to Kuibo's Shoe or the frog suit. Also, where is the cape feather? What the hell? What Mario game doesn't have a cape feather? Overall, the game play is good as it combines some of the old with some of the new. A shame it couldn't use the best of the old.

Graphics: Ah, graphics. Well, graphics are a bit difficult to evaluate. I mean, it is 2-D so it's nothing compared to other DS games and the game seems like a glorified SNES game. However, graphics don't really matter in this case because the purpose of New Super Mario Bros. was to revisit the olden 2-D days and so, as a result, the game is in 2-D and for a 2-D game, this is about as good as it gets. So I'm actually going to commend the graphics in this game. Yes, the game could have definitely used more variety but the contrast and color was sharp.

Soundtrack: The classical Mario sounds are back and still retain the ability to irritate you after a while. But it's all good. The soundtrack wasn't that great in my opinion. I'll admit I really liked the Castle theme but the other levels, the bosses, everything just seemed uninspired and definitely lacked the charm that other Mario games had. It was a Mario game, so of course the soundtrack can't compare with something like Final Fantasy's soundtracks but I was still expecting a little more.

Replay Value: Like most main Mario games, the replay value is very high. Is it as high as Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World. No, once again it fails to live up to them but there are a lot of levels and pathways to unlock as well as a couple of additional worlds. There's also a lot to do in collecting 3 special coins in each level. This game will last you as there is stuff to do.

I really wonder why this game was called New Super Mario Bros. and not Super Mario Bros. DS. This game won't be new forever. In like 10 years, it will sound very silly saying “New” Super Mario Bros. when it clearly isn't. But that is okay. A stupid name is no way to judge a game. This game was meant to be like the old Mario games. It still managed to be a solid game overall but it just lacked the luster that SMB3 and SMW had. It just did. I wasn't surprised that it ended up this way, it may go to show that some classics can never be toppled. Will we see 2-D Mario games again? I hope so, NSMB did sell quite nicely. The DS may have started out a little slow but it has grown into a successful little system that keeps finding new ways to amaze. NSMB didn't really utilize the DS but that's okay. I'm really torn on whether to give NSMB an 8 or a 9. I think my comparison to SMB3 and SMW is what would bring it down to an 8 so on a stand-alone game, NSMB gets a 9 out of 10 from me.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/25/06

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