Review by GavLuvsGA
This game's only fault is that it helps the player too much!
I played the DS version of the New Super Mario Bros, and thought it was okay, but felt there was a slight lack of replay value; I was, nevertheless, excited to receive the Wii version for Christmas (along with my Nintendo Wii), so here is what I thought.
Gameplay - 8/10
The gameplay is exactly like a classic Mario side-scrolling game (for example, Super Mario World), in which Mario's goal is to reach the flag at the end of each level. The game throws in the usual enemies (koopa troopas, goombas, boos and others) while introducing a few new ones (skeletal piranha fish, for example). Each of the eight main worlds includes a number of sublevels, and also a fortress and castle, in which you will encounter one of the "koopalings" (Larry, Lemmy, Wendy, Roy, Iggy, Ludwig and Morton Jr from Super Mario World); in addition, some of the worlds feature extra battleship stages in which you fight Mini Bowser. As with many previous Mario games, a number of secret levels and short cuts can be found in the game, and most overworlds feature a cannon that allows you to skip several of the game's stages.
The gameplay makes good use of the Ninteno Wii technology, including certain platforms that can be moved by tilting the remote; the game even includes a battle that you can only win by waving the remote around in order to hit Mini Bowser's ship.
Mario also has a few new power ups, including the ice flower, which allows you to freeze enemies, the penguin suit, which is an advanced version of the ice flower that stops you sliding around on ice, and the propellor hat that allows you to perform a "propellor jump" and float for a limited period of time. The mini mushroom makes a return from the DS version, but the mega mushroom and Shell Mario have been ditched.
Unlike the DS version, you cannot carry a "reserve" item through the levels to use in an emergency, but you can collect items in the special stages and use them on yourself in the overworld before entering a stage. Special stages can be found in mushroom houses, just like in the DS version, and these vanish after you have been to them, and these consist of three main types of game. Firstly, you can flip over panels to reveal pictures, and if you get two that match, you receive the item shown; however, if you get two Bowser or Mini Bowser pictures, the game ends. You can also grap extra lives by shooting Mario from a cannon or pick up invincibility stars from chests in certain stages.
Mushroom houses will also appear if you manage to rescue Toad in one of the game's levels. At certain times throughout the game, a Toad icon will appear next to a level, which means that Toad is trapped within an item box and you must carry him to the exit. The Toad rescues add an extra challenge to the game, as you must avoid Toad being hit since two hits will kill him, and he cannot be powered up, and sometimes you will have to be more careful with certain stages.
Each overworld also includes specific areas where you can be attacked by enemies (e.g. goombas or spinies) and enter a special stage where the objective is to get eight toad balloons; if you are able to do this, you will get to continue through the world map, and you will receive three super mushrooms. These stages generally get harder as the game progresses, although I found the most infuriating to be on World 7, featuring Lakitu (luckily it is possible to open a shortcut to bypass this!)
One new feature in this game is that many levels feature hidden areas behind certain walls, which can only be found by careful investigation, and which often lead to hidden exits. The game also includes all of the usual gimmicks, including various water levels, and also the ghost houses and Yoshi. My only complaint about the latter two is that they do not appear often enough; the first ghost house is in the middle of World 3, and only four appear in the whole game; Yoshi appears in about five levels, and once you complete a level, he leaves you, so you can't take him to any level you wish (like in Super Mario World). However, many of the levels are quite inventive, including a stage where you can get blown around by strong gusts of wind and a skeleton roller coaster.
Each level also includes three special coins that you can collect, and collecting each coin in a single world unlocks a secret stage in World 9 (this is only accessible after you have beaten Bowser), and collecting all of these is a new challenge in itself, as some are found in very hard-to-find places.
The only faults I could find in this game are that it effectively acts like a GameFAQs walkthrough, and provides a lot of help for players. In exchange for special coins, you can visit Peach's castle and view hint movies; these include "Super Skills" and "Unlimited 1 Ups" videos for certain stages (although these are really just an excuse for the programmers to show off their gameplay skills and make the average gamer feel inadequate) and also videos that show you how to access special coins, or hidden exits. Regrettably, I did look at a few of the videos of the hidden exits and wished I hadn't afterward as they ruined the fun of finding them out for myself. These will help players who run out of patience, however, but more skilled players are advised to only use them as a last resort. The feature that I found to be most unusual was that if you die a certain number of times on any level, you will activate "Super Luigi Guide", and a green box appears, allowing you to watch a video of Luigi completing the level. As with the hint videos, I felt that using this spoiled the fun of the game for me, and I avoided this altogether.
I am not in favour of games actually making themselves too easy for players, but otherwise this is an excellent game, culminating in a truly epic confrontation with Bowser.
The game also includes a multiplayer mode for up to four players, although for some reason two of the characters who appear in this version are Toads, with no sign of Wario or Waluigi, who could have made decent alternatives. The default character will always be Mario for a single player.
Story - 5/10
Marioland is taken over by Sonic and his friends, all of whom are on the side of Bowser; they want to eliminate Mario from the gaming world, and ... actually that's not what happens, Princess Peach is once again kidnapped by Bowser; this time, Mini Bowser and his Koopalings gatecrash her birthday party - so, basically this is just the same story as most other Mario games then!
Sound - 9/10
All of the tunes and character voices are nice, with the exception of Toad's irritating voice (his cries of "HELP! HEEEELP!" become quite unbearable after a while). I particularly like the french-style remix of the music for the sky levels.
Graphics - 10/10
The animation on the characters is very nice, and each world stands out from the others, with nice colours and designs. I particularly like the new character models for the Koopalings who are all given their own identity (Ludwig Van Koopa is given a hairstyle like his namesake, Beethoven), whereas in Super Mario World they all looked the same.
Replay Value - 9/10
This game has a lot of replay value, as you will find yourself returning to levels to get special coins you missed before, or even to play the levels that you skipped. After you beat Bowser, you are able to unlock World 9, which is super-difficult, providing that you have all of the special coins you need. I find myself compelled to return to this game regularly, and often find it hard to drag myself away.
This game is superior to the DS equivalent, and should satisfy all long-time Mario fans, or even people who have never played a Mario game before.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (EU, 11/20/09)
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