Classic Mario Reinvented
June 5, 2009 – The world of gaming is full of Super Mario Bros. clones, and the classic platformer has already been remade before for the Nintendo DS, with ample success. We’ve also seen numerous variations of the formula in games like Yoshi’s Island. Everyone knows the classic title is a pioneer of the genre and also a game that will never feel too old, no matter how many years go by. However, one has to wonder if the game needs to be remade yet another time. It seems like the Wii’s ample library relies heavily on remakes, and that’s something that particularly bothers some gaming industry professionals, as well as gamers.
That said, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a whole new experience. It’s a reinvention of the classic that’s incredibly fun and satisfying for pretty much everyone who plays it, unless it’s someone who didn’t enjoy the original in the first place – and I’ve never met anyone with such taste. This new game will offer dozens of exciting and unique levels (if not more), and although we only played ten of them (the entire demo!), I can say they’re very diverse and original. As always, the game will be divided into multiple worlds with several stages within them. We hopped and bounced around the Mushroom Kingdom, visited a castle, marched through the sands, and slip ‘n slid on icy lands.
The game contains all the traditional Mario elements we’ve seen throughout the years, such as moving platforms, see-saws, hidden passages, warping pipes, etc. It also includes all the classic foes, from Goombas to Troopas, Paratroopas, Hammer Bros., Thwamps, and Piranha Plants, with the addition of some less common enemies as well, like penguins that slide towards you on the icy levels, and clouds that are placed lower than the classic ones, presenting a direct obstacle for anyone bouncing around near the ground.
Expect to hit numerous coin blocks throughout the levels in order to obtain items like 1-Up mushrooms, red mushrooms, fire flowers, etc. A couple new items have been added, from what we’ve seen. One is the propeller helmet, which allows you to fly a little and then hover down slowly. This gives you better access to the upper portion of the stage, which always seems to have a couple of tempting coins here and there and even coin blocks. In the icy level, Mario can transform into Penguin Mario, and this makes him faster on ice, lets you shoot ice balls (instead of fire balls), and also gives you more control in slippery areas. Another item is the egg, and guess what’s inside… you guessed it – Yoshi! If you hop on the little dinosaur, you’ll be able to glide around the level, swallow fireballs and other projectiles like hammers, and even gulp one of the other players and spit them out.
I mentioned “the other players” because you can indeed play New Super Mario Bros. Wii at the same time with up to three other people. Multiplayer is what makes the game especially fun. Not only is it Mario platforming at its best, but also everyone will be giggling or even laughing out loud like we did. What’s best – you don’t have to give up the controller! (“My precious…”)
There’s no talk yet about online gameplay, and it’s possible the game won’t include it. However, it seems like the perfect game to play with the whole family, as it’s accessible enough for at least older children and, of course, teens and adults. You can even help another player who’s having a hard time by grabbing them. Later levels definitely get more challenging, with more gaps to fall through, more tricky moving platforms, and tougher enemies, but the controls are slick as can be and very user-friendly, so there’s no excuse to fail in the game, other than your unpolished Mario skills.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii does use motion controls, but for the most part, everything is done the classic way, holding the controller horizontally and using the D-pad to move and the 2 button to jump. When you jump and shake the controller a little bit, your character will spin, and if you hold 1 while shaking, you can grab another player and help him or throw him through a gap! Of course, this game is mostly made for the co-op experience; each player gets five lives for each stage and will respawn each time they die, but if all the players on the screen die at the same time or lose the five lives, the game’s over and it’s back to the beginning of the stage, so it’s not necessarily good to play “evil” and handicap your friends. Not that there isn’t enough mayhem on the screen, as jumping on top of the other players makes you bounce time and again, and sometimes it even launches you higher. We had a great time and lots of laughs while playing the game. It’s so cool!
One thing we don’t know yet is which characters will be playable. On the demo, there were only four: Mario, Luigi, and a yellow and a blue Toad. Without a doubt, we’ll be able to see other characters in the game, but maybe they won’t be playable. Nevertheless, our intuition says there will be other playable characters to unlock in the game, but I could be totally wrong.
Also, we didn’t see any kind of cutscenes, so there might not be much of a story built into the game – at least a deep one. Granted most Mario games have the same tale – rescuing the princess from Bowser – so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the plot of this game too. Luckily the plumber brothers can join forces in this quest along with the Toads. That should make things easier, right?
As far as audio and visuals, there isn’t a whole lot you don’t know already. The game sounds like New Super Mario Bros. for the DS, with great remakes of the original NES songs, and the graphics are colorful and vibrant, like you would expect from a Super Mario game. There’s a mix of 3D and 2D in the environments, characters, etc., but it’s a side-scroller, so it’s mostly two-dimensional. On the whole, they’re very simple graphics – pretty much a blown-up version of the DS title – but there’s really nothing to complain about, since they’re very sharp and good-looking.
We can’t wait to have this must-have gaming jewel right at home, but unfortunately, we still have to wait until the holidays before New Super Mario Bros. Wii is on store shelves. My prediction is most homes with a Nintendo Wii system will also own this game at some point. Since it’s so loyal to the classic gameplay style – yet innovative – and lets four players have fun at the same time, it will be tough to resist to its charms. It’ll most likely be what we call an instant classic.