A game like New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a no-brainer for veteran gamers who grew up with and loved the classic Nintendo 2D platformers. Chances are, if you look back on Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World with fond memories, you won’t find much to complain about in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. But is that enough to make it a viable current generation game? The nostalgia value, combined with some minor improvements and enhancements to the core gameplay, along with the addition of 4 player co-op, makes New Super Mario Bros. Wii one of the best titles on the platform. Nintendo has the art of rehashing old material down to a fine science.
What’s in a Name
The title of the game, while lame and uninspired, is completely accurate. It’s a refreshed version of the classic Super Mario Bros. games, available on the Wii.
NSMBW is actually a sequel to the 2006 DS game, New Super Mario Bros. If you played that game, you’ll be ahead of the rest in that a lot of the things that are new in NSMBW, were first introduced in the DS predecessor. The characters themselves are much more animated and exaggerated. It takes a bit of momentum to really get moving, and in turn, you need to account for a few extra steps before coming to a stop. Perhaps my favourite addition to the core gameplay, is the wall jump. You can now jump off walls repeatedly to reach high areas, or save yourself from certain death.
Some of the classic power-ups are in tact. Like the mushroom, fire flower, and invincibility star. But Mario and the gang have a few new tricks in their bag as well. From NSMB on the DS, there’s the mini mushroom, which shrinks you to about 25%. In turn, it allows you to run faster, run on water, and jump super high and far. Among the new power-ups are the ice flower, penguin suit, and propeller suit. The ice flower gives you the ability to shoot ice balls which freeze most baddies. You can then jump on them, butt-stomp to kill them, or pick them up and throw them. The penguin suit makes walking on ice a lot easier, swimming faster and takes less effort, and you can also throw ice balls. The propeller suit is easily my favourite new addition, and really comes in handy on some of the more tricky platforming, or time based levels. A quick shake of the Wiimote launches your character high into the air, and he drifts slowly back down. Similar to how you could slow your descent with the raccoon suit in SMB3.
Each level contains 3 large coins, which are fairly easy to collect in the first couple or worlds. But become more of a challenge later on. Some are just plain hard to find, while others seem totally out of reach. The coins unlock bonus levels which you can play once you’ve rescued the princess. The final world, 9, is much more challenging than the rest of the game. Even making it through the levels without obtaining the large coins can prove quite difficult.
These things take a bit of getting used to.
Funny enough, NSMBW is played holding the Wiimote sideways, with the d-pad on the left and buttons 1 and 2 on the right. You know, just like the original NES controller. There are a couple maneuvers which require a quick shake of the Wiimote, but the basic movements are handled without motion controls. At this point, you would think the classic controller for Wii would be the perfect fit, with having the motion based moves mapped to buttons. But there are a couple more interesting uses for the motion controls yet. There are platforms which can be tilted by tilting the Wiimote, and similarly, some platforms can move side-to-side by tilting the Wiimote. This simply couldn’t be done without the motion controls, which would have rendered entire levels unplayable otherwise. While motion controls play a small part in NSMBW, they’re integral.
4 Player Madness
The co-op experience can vary greatly depending on the skills of each player. If you’re all well matched, it will be a blast. When you have at least one player who can’t keep up, it really hampers the experience for everyone else. Even with experienced players, there will be times when players collide mid-air, sending one of them directly into harm’s way. Make sure you bring your patience, and don’t take it too seriously, and there’s plenty of fun to be had with the co-op gameplay.
Some times, the screen just doesn’t seem big enough for 4 players.
The classic map screen is back!
There are some many little throw-backs to the old game, that I likely had a goofy grin on my face the majority of the time I was playing this game. From sound effects and music remixes, to renditions of levels and scenarios from the original games, and even how the game uses a map screen similar to SMB3 and SMW. There are a lot of things that are going to make older games smile. I could write many paragraphs on the throw-backs alone, but they’re better left to be discovered.
Seriously? One guess, that’s all you need – Princess Peach is kidnapped by the Koopa kids and it’s up to Mario and company to rescue her. You traverse 8 wacky themed worlds, each with 2 mini boss battles before making it to Bowser’s doorstep.
Can you guess what happens next?
Other Game Modes
Along with co-op gameplay, there’s also a competitive multiplayer mode which ranks each player by score, coins, and enemy kills at the end of each stage. Coin Battle was introduced in NSMB on the DS and is definitely more fun than playing the story’s competitive mode. There are literally levels out of the original Super Mario Bros. game in Coin Battle.
There’s a difference between porting old games to new platforms, which Nintendo also does quite often, and completely refreshing a game. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the latter. It feels like you’re picking up an old favourite, yet it’s an entirely new experience in its own. It really does show that the Super Mario Bros. games are timeless.