Review by RageBot
Best 2D platformer since the early 90's.
The golden age of 2D platformers, and two dimensions in general, is long gone. Mario and Sonic both went on their own ways, Mario rocking all the way in new formats, and Sonic, well... took a nose dive until Generations came out. However, this is Nintendo we're talking about. Miyamoto is a gaming savior, with Mario being his digital Messiah.
Six years ago, to celebrate the ingenious, then-new Nintendo DS, Miyamoyo had decided to return Mario to his former glory, in a short little 2D platformer called New Super Mario Bros. While it was creative at times, I personally do not like that specific incarnation of the classic formula, but more on that is in the review I wrote on that game. What we're talking about here is New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a much better title by all means.
The plot is simple Mario business as usual. Peach gets kidnapped again... surprise!!! Unlike the DS title, this game features all seven sons of Bowser, as well as Bowser Jr. and his loyal mage, Kamek. As usual now, you must traverse through eight worlds, with different themes such as desert, sea, and sky. This game also has the mountain and jungle worlds, first introduced in the DS title.
Along the way, you must face all seven sons of Bowser. You fight each twice, once as a mid-boss of a world, and once as an end-boss. All fights are similar: Bowser's son will fire a magic bolt at you, than jump in the air for a bit. There are some differences: One shakes the ground when he lands, another summons spiked pillars to crush you, and another fires homing bolts. As you fight the sons as end-bosses, Kamek joins the fun and casts a spell on the arena, causing platforms to rise, water to flood the area, etc.
Each world consists of six or seven normal stages, a Haunted Mansion, a mid-boss stage, and an end-boss stage. Each stage has a distinct theme to it, and you can easily tell the difference between each of them. Some worlds also have a stage that takes place in an Airship. You got that right, the uber-difficult Airship stages, with a gazillion cannons firing in all directions, are BACK!!! In the end of each, you must fight Bowser Jr. in his clown copter.
Each stage is rife with secrets: Hidden blocks, passages through walls, secret beanstalks that take you to the skies. Can you find all secrets? Some lead to Star Coins, three of each are found in each stage. Others may lead to secret exits. Those exits may serve as shortcuts to the world's end, open a cannon that launches you to a brand new world, or even unlock secret stages that cannot be reached otherwise.
Sometime, a Toad will scream for your help... obnoxious little things. You must enter the world with a Toad bubble hovering above it, locate the Toad in a question marked box, and carry him to the end without him or Mario dying. For doing so, a Toad house will open. You can get new power-ups in a red Toad house, 1-ups in a green house and get one guaranteed Star in a yellow house. You can access all your power-ups by pressing 1 on the field, and choosing from a neat list, not unlike Super Mario Bros 3's perfect power-up system.
All of the classic power-ups can be found: Red mushroom, Fire Flower, and Invincibility Stars are all here. This game also has the Mini Mushroom from the DS title, Ice Flower from Galaxy, and two new power-ups: An orange mushroom that makes you use a propeller, and a penguin suit that makes you slide on ice like a pro, in addition to shooting ice balls. Yoshi is also back, with his tongue that eats all and precious flutter jump. You dismount by shaking the remote.
The best thing about this game, however, is its difficulty. It's just perfect, challenging enough to exercise your mind as you plot out new strategies, choosing to use your spare power-ups or save them, and maneuvering through volleys of obstacles. However, the difficulty never gets frustratingly high. This game is no Ghosts & Goblins, nor is it Ninja Gaiden.
Another great thing is the multiplayer option. Up to four players can grab remotes and either co-operate through the challenging stages, or compete for coins. The second remote gets to play as Luigi, and the other two play as two random Toads. Each player can use all the power-ups and ride Yoshi. Yoshi can even swallow a player to keep him from harm, and spit him out when needed!
This is one of those games where you hold the Wii remote sideways, so that it feels more like a classic NES controller. As expected, 2 jumps, and 1 fires fireballs and makes Mario dash. In addition, you can also make Mario spin in the air with a shake of the remote. However, if you dislike the classic control scheme, you can also plug a Nunchuck to your remote and play it like you play a 3D game.
The graphics are really nice for the Wii, and the music is also great. The stage themes are but remakes of the DS stage themes, but they sound ten times better than before. The rest of the tracks are either cult classics, or brand new tracks that are more of the delightful same.
If you are Nintendo fans and have been so since the 80's, or if you own a Wii with a few extra remotes and have some friends who like playing video games, this is a game you must purchase. If not, just buy it anyway.
Final grade: 8.6/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (US, 11/15/09)
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