|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 15, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
In multiplayer, you can all be friends and play cooperatively to reach the goal and get the coins and items you need, or you can be mean and handicap each other while heading towards the goal. Either way, playing with other people can be mayhem, but it's also a hoot, and it has its own advantages. For example, when someone dies, they lose a life, but they come right back into the stage, floating inside a bubble until they touch another player. On the other hand, if you're playing alone, you'll be kicked out of the level and into the world map, having to restart the level from the beginning or from the midway point, if you managed to reach it before dying. Needless to say, playing cooperatively makes the game easier to handle, because you get to stay in the game as long as you still have lives left and there's someone else still active in the level.
If you play alone and aren't very skilled at old-school-inspired platformers, you may suffer. The game is very challenging and not forgiving at all. You're allowed to quick save and start once from where you left off, but otherwise, you can only save when you reach the middle and the end of each world. If you lose all your lives, you'll be able to continue, but just from the last save point. This is true until you beat the game; then it's just about fun and replayability, so they let you save at any time.
I thought this Mario game would be ideal for families, since they can all play together. However, one has to keep in mind the level of challenge involved. Gamer parents and their tween/teen kids will be able to get through it, but it's possible other people will find the game to be a source of anger and frustration. It gives you reasons to fight for the fire flower that just popped out of the coin block, or to yell at each other because they were in the way and you bounced off of them and into a pit. That's not to say the game isn't extremely family-friendly, but it's just a heads-up so you know what you'll find in this otherwise unbelievably fun game.
New Super Mario Bros. also includes two other multiplayer modes: Free-for-All and Coin Battle. In the first one, you'll play with other players through existing levels you've cleared in the main mode, but it gives you a score and a rank at the end, depending on the number of coins and special items each player picked up. In Coin Battle players are thrown into special coin-filled stages and will fight to collect as many as they can before the end of the level or until they die. This competitive mode is extremely fun and will have players fighting and begging for a rematch.
Overall, though the game is not easy, it's very intuitive and straightforward to understand. It's also simple to control, holding the Wii Remote sideways like you would the original NES controller. You can also play Nunchuk-style, controlling Mario with the analog stick and using A to jump and B or Z to dash. For someone with small hands like me, this configuration seems to work better, but it's all just a matter of taste. Even though there's no Classic Controller support, we didn't find it to be necessary once we played the game.
Only three things I'm missing from this title: online ranks and leaderboards, more playable characters, and online play. The first two, we can live without, but online multiplayer has become so essential this generation that I can't quite understand why Nintendo chose not to include it. It exists in Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, so why not an online co-op mode so we can enjoy the game with those friends who live far from us? Oh well, it seems like this is always Nintendo's weakness. Hopefully they'll change their gears some day.
On the whole, New Super Mario Bros. Wii hits the spot. The short wait since we found out about the game was definitely worth it. One just knows we can't be disappointed when Miyamoto is involved, so hooray for that! It's another Nintendo masterpiece with gorgeous and vibrant graphics, loads of original characters and enemies (both classic and new), beautiful and unique environments, classic Mario tunes, superb voice acting, amusing but challenging gameplay, engaging multiplayer action, and more. If your interest has been piqued, be sure to get your hands on this special red-boxed Wii game this holiday season!
CCC Site Director