“Mario returns to his roots once more in this enjoyable 2D platformer.”
For many years, I was complaining that Nintendo was foolishly wasting their time making fully 3D Mario games, which I still feel they inappropriately named as platformers. Mario 64 never clicked with me and Mario Sunshine was so mediocre that it was depressing. I never played either of the Mario Galaxy games due to not being a Wii owner. Despite the fact that I don’t own Nintendo’s latest console, I’m still allowed the opportunity to try a Wii game from time to time. Except for Mario Kart Wii, there’s probably no other game on the console that I’ve ever wanted to play except for New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Now that I’ve gotten the chance to try it out, I feel that I really must write about the game being the Mario fanatic that I am.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii (let’s just call it NSMBW for short) opens up with Mario and Luigi, as well as many toads (the mushroom people), attending Princess Toadstool’s birthday. Things take a completely random turn for the worse when Bowser’s goons lift Peach’s gigantic cake and throw it on top of her, trapping her inside before running off with her. I know that this is just a Mario platformer and all, but really? The cake? Nintendo surely could have done a little better than this? A crew of koopa caterers in disguise nabbing her would have been better. Even though I didn’t like the cake scene and found it to be really uncreative, it hasn’t affected my overall take on the game so no need to worry.
After the princess is nabbed, it is time for Mario, Luigi, and the two toads (one blue and one yellow) to save the day. With four characters comes four player support, new to the main Mario series. I only played the game solo which is how I feel Mario platformers should always be played unless we’re talking two players taking turns. In NSMBW however, all four players can romp across the screen together. It sounds like a little bit too much for me, especially in a Mario game, so I’m a little glad that I didn’t get the opportunity to try the multiplayer since it allowed me to play this game for what it is, a Mario platformer and not a four player orgy.
So once all is said and done and you’re past the intro sequence and player select, you get to tackle the first world. As is the case with all Mario games, NSMBW is divided into eight worlds, each comprised of several levels. Each world in NSMBW follows a different theme, most of which are pulled straight out of classic Mario games.
On the subject of emulating the classic Mario games, NSMBW does not hesitate to take many pages from the older games. NSMBW in fact borrows so many elements from the classic games that it ends up feeling like the first four games (Super Mario Bros 1, 2, 3 and World) were dumped into a big cauldron and left to stew. The number of gameplay elements from the old games is staggering, but it is huge relief after the 3D titles which tried desperately to be different.
Most of the classic enemies and power-ups from the first four games have returned. While they may be rendered in 3D now and have received drastic makeovers, everything is the same as ever. As a long time Mario fan, I was constantly encountering somewhat obscure enemies that I had met in the older games, so I had the privilege of knowing what they do and how to get around them. It was so great to experience so much familiarity in a new Mario game and it left me feeling really good.
In terms of what’s new to Mario, there are three new power-ups that are quite a lot of fun to use. The first that you will likely encounter is the ice flower which, instead of giving Mario the ability to throw fireballs, allows our plumber friend to freeze enemies for a few seconds. The second power-up is a propeller cap which allows Mario to fly up and down by shaking the Wiimote. This is a cheap gimmick to add to a power-up, and it immediately makes the propeller cap inferior to the leaf from SMB3 or cape from SMW in my opinion. The third and final new power-up is the penguin suit, which allows Mario to glide across the ground effortly like a penguin on ice.
Level structure is the same as ever, keep moving forward until you reach the goal post at the end of the level. How to progress through the levels has remained unchanged so Mario veterans should be able to complete most of the game with relative ease. There are a few new challenges littered throughout the game, most of which start to appear in the secord world.
There are a few old faces that have returned to the Mario franchise, which makes me very, very happy. First off, there’s Yoshi. Our beloved dinosaur has been restored to his Mario World glory thanks to a smart decision by Nintendo. Gone is Yoshi’s bizarre baby voice which has been replaced by the deeper, more reptilian Yoshi noises that we fell in love with in Super Mario World. Unfortunately, Yoshi is only present in a small handful of levels and cannot be taken outside to other levels. This seems to be a nod to Mario Sunshine and, quite frankly, I hate it. The inability to bring Yoshi anywhere is really not beneficial to the gameplay at all. Super Mario World, which is essentially twenty years old, has a superior Yoshi that can travel to any level. That does not look very good on NSMBW.
Also returning for the first time in many years are the Koopa Kids. I missed this guys immensely, as they were among my favourite aspects of the old games. The order that you fight them in has been shaken up quite a bit and is fairly interesting now. For example, Larry Koopa was usually always in castle 6 or 7 before, but is now the very first Koopa Kid who you must overcome.
World structure is actually the best ever in a Mario game. While the game world doesn’t feel as diverse as Super Mario World, which featured a brilliant overworld map, NSMBW instead emulates the map style that we’ve seen in Super Mario Bros. 3 and New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. There are several levels scattered across the maps which the player must beat to progress. Among them are mushroom houses, ghost houses (returning from Mario World), and towers. The towers are actually quite nice. In most cases, towers sit smack dab in the middle of each world. Whichever Koopa Kid is lording over the world you’re in will be present in the tower, and you get to have a nice little fight with them before they flee to the castle at the end of the world. After beating the tower, you are treated with a save prompt and the second half of the world to play through.
The graphical style in NSMBW isn’t bad at all and, quite honestly, just looks like the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES with a massive makeover. This is quite a good thing, and there’s a lot of charm in the game’s visuals. Sound effects match nicely, as many of them are straight out of the classic games with few alterations. Music is a different story and I personally found it to be a bit of a bag of mixed nuts. Some of the music tracks are very enjoyable and pleasant to listen to, but others are entirely forgettable. It is a little disheartening that a Mario platformer could have music that won’t stand out or stick with you, but that’s just the sad truth. The music is at least an improvement from New Super Mario Bros. on the DS, but just about anything is an improvement over the music in that game. Sorry Nintendo.
So, is the game worth your time? If you are a Mario fan, then the answer is a definite yes. If you enjoy Mario platformers, then there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you will enjoy this game. Heck, even just fans of platformers in general should find a lot to like in this game. While the game falters a tiny bit from a few shortcomings, it stands strong and is only bettered by perhaps Mario 3 and Mario World. Nintendo has proven to us that they still have it in them, and this is undoubtedly the best 2D Mario platformer in a whooping twenty years.