DPrime Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii


Originally Posted on Default Prime

When Mario moved into the third dimension with Super Mario 64 it seemed like there was no looking back for console Mario titles, and for almost fifteen years that remained true. Now Mario has finally returned to the second dimension on home consoles with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but it comes with a bit of a twist adding simultaneous multiplayer which is a first for the series. New Super Mario Bros Wii is also the debut of Nintendo’s Super Guide to help more casual players pull through the game. The additions of these features may give you the impression that New Super Mario Bros Wii is a side scrolling Mario title aimed at casuals, but fortunately that is far from the case.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii plays as you would expect any side scrolling Mario titles would. You run and jump your way from point A to B. While this stays as the foundation of the game throughout, as you progress more and more the levels will start requiring more from you including sliding on slopes to build up extra speed, performing wall jumps, and bouncing off enemies to increase jump distance. All of these actions are performed using the buttons and are very responsive, but as always with Wii titles Nintendo included motion controls for some actions. Most of these are very minor actions, but occasionally they feel a bit too sensitive at times so it is easy to trip up and do something you didn’t want to do. Thankfully the motion controls are used sparingly and accidentally performing one of these moves rarely results in death.

In the 2005 DS release New Super Mario Bros they added a few new powers ups, but most of them felt useless beyond their specific uses. Thankfully that is not the case here. New Super Mario Bros. Wii introduces 3 new power ups: the Propeller Hat, the Ice Flower, and the Penguin Suit. The Propeller Suit gives players the ability to launch into the air and then slowly float down. It is handy on most levels since you can easily clear gaps and is nice in a pinch when you are about to fall to your death. Ice Flowers allow players to freeze enemies and throw them at other enemies or items. The Penguin Suit has the same functions as the Ice Flowers but can also slide easily on ice and water making for some more fast paced levels. The penguin suit makes it easier to swim as well. Some older power ups return including the classic Fire Flower and Star as well as the Mini Mushroom from the DS title. Players can also ride Yoshi in this title, but he doesn’t carry onto other levels and is rarely available.

In terms of level design, New Super Mario Bros. Wii has a wide variety of levels to traverse across. In total there are 9 different worlds and each harder then the last. Getting from point A to B is a challenge in itself in some of the levels in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but the game also challenges players to collect star coins. These coins can be in very simple locations just requiring players to jump to grab them, while others are not so easy requiring players to master a variety of techniques then put them all together to successfully obtain the Star Coin. The coins are completely optional, but those looking for the extra challenge will definitely want to grab every single one they come across as they go towards unlocking World 9 and to purchasing impressive Super Skill videos showing off some ridiculously good Mario players tackling the levels in ways you would have never thought of.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii has a nice smooth difficulty curve most of the time, but occasionally you will hit a level that might just have you stumped. Thankfully many of the worlds have multiple paths so you can try your shot at a different level, or you can try out the new Super Guide mode. Super Guide appears after a player in single player dies on a level eight times in a row. At this point they will have the option to view the computer tackle the level. The guide only shows you a bare bones walk-through of the level completely passing up Star Coins and hidden areas, but it is handy for getting techniques to tackle tough situations. The Super Guide also gives players the option to skip any level if need be, but it is all completely optional.

While New Super Mario Bros. Wii functions just fine as a single player 2D side scrolling Mario title, the spot light feature of the title is the four player mode. The multiplayer has players controlling Mario, Luigi, a yellow Toad, and a blue Toad. Players can choose to play cooperatively or competitively, but the cooperative mode almost feels like it discourages players trying to cooperate. It is very easy for players to jump on another players head on accident and send them to their death or throw a object and accidentally hurt or kill other players. Depending on who you are playing with, this can cause a cooperative game to quickly turn into a competitive game. Assuming players don’t start going on a bloodthirsty rampage, multiplayer does help cut the difficulty back a little bit especially when collecting star coins. Despite being somewhat easier, having a team of four doesn’t make the levels ridiculously easy. They still pack quite a punch, so don’t expect to breeze through all the levels on your first go.

There are two competitive modes. One is called Free-for-All and another is called Coin Battle. They’re both relatively the same with slightly changed objectives. Free-for-All has players battling to get the highest score, where coin battle has players battling to get the most coins. Both modes allow players to choose any stage from World 1 through 8 and coin battle includes 5 stages made specifically for the mode. These modes have a sort of Mario Kart feel to them as players will be not only battling the stage but the other players as well. There will be plenty of turtle shells throwing and the use of other items to mess up your opponents so you can get the highest score or the most coins. Overall New Super Mario Bros. Wii feels like the perfect example of Nintendo’s signature multiplayer, so if you have a couple of friends to play with it will be a blast.

There is no Super Guide feature in the multiplayer, but instead there is a bubble players can activate by pressing the A button on the controller. This bubble allows players to float along without losing lives or taking any damage. This is convenient for helping other players through the level or avoiding a would be death. In order to pop the bubble other unbubbled players must touch the bubble in some way. So if everyone uses the bubble or everyone who wasn’t in a bubble dies then it is game over and everyone gets booted out of the stage. When players die they reappear using these same bubbles as long as they have extra lives. Once the player is out of lives they won’t reenter the stage until 100 coins are collected for a 1-up or until the other players complete or fail a stage. While it is a relatively short wait, at times it can feel bit lengthy especially when other players are struggling to finish the stage.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is beatable within couple of afternoons, but multiplayer adds a lot of replay value to keep you returning. After beating the final boss, players can complete a few achievements and collect all the star coins to tackle World 9. The single player mode may seem a bit short for a full priced Wii game, but if you have a couple of friends to play you will definitely get your money’s worth even at the $50 price point.

While New Super Mario Bros. Wii is for the most part spotless, there are a few small issues still. The save system is slightly inconvenient as it won’t let you do a permanent save unless you beat a castle or have already completed the game. For the most part though the quick save feature usually gets the job done. Each world has two or three boss battles, but save for a few they are all relatively the same fight with slight tweaks made to the environment or how the boss moves. Some of the later ones are more interesting, but most of the boss fights are not challenging and relatively boring. Although it is a bit forgivable considering the boss’s levels are generally much harder then other levels, so finishing a boss still feels satisfying. These are just small details though that are for the most part easily overlooked.

At first glance New Super Mario Bros. Wii may look quite a bit similar to its DS counter part with its 2.5D presentation, but upon closer inspection you will see a much nicer looking game. The backgrounds are detailed and colorful along with the foreground on which you traverse on. The camera zooms in and out quite well to accommodate the 4 players action. Rarely ever does it feels like you are hindered by the screen. Those using 4:3 displays won’t have to worry about a limited view as it adds black bars on the top and bottom of screen to simulate a 16:9 view. When the camera zooms in on the characters you can tell they’re a little on the blocky side, but most of the time the game is zoomed out too far to notice. New Super Mario Bros. Wii also runs at a smooth frame rate with no slow down. It doesn’t look as good as Super Mario Galaxy, but considering how much can be on screen at once it is fairly impressive.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii features a variety of remixes from the past games in the series dating back to the Mario Bros. arcade game and they do the originals justice. There are a few new tracks here and there, but none of them stand out as well as the classics.

Overall New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a well rounded package that really shows how enjoyable a single game can be to all audiences. There are plenty of options for new users to help ease them into the title, but there are still tons of challenges that veteran Mario players can take on. For multiplayer this game is pretty much a must buy. Those looking for single player Mario title could easily find a very similar experience on the Virtual Console for much cheaper. But if you have already played all of Mario’s past 2D outings and the platformer must be a Mario title, New Super Mario Bros. Wii does a great job of keeping the single player experience the past Mario titles are known for.

Pros:

  • Signature Nintendo style multiplayer
  • High replay value
  • Difficult yet accessible to new players
  • Colorful environments
  • Smooth frame rate even when onscreen action is busy

Cons

  • Cons are pretty much all just nit picking
  • Slightly inconvenient save system
  • Motion controls are a little bit too sensitive
  • Not much variety in boss battles
  • Similar single player experiences on Virtual Console for a much cheaper price
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