Review | New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Format: Wii | Genre: Platformer | Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo | Release date: 20/11/09 | RRP: £39.99
By Justin Boot
The princess has been kidnapped. Again. It was inevitable, really. Bowser’s plans may lack finesse and creativity, but they get the job done. It’s hard to botch a villainous scheme when your target is utterly inept.
You’ve got to wonder about Peach. She’s in charge of an entire kingdom, yet she can’t even be responsible for her own safety. Instead, she places all her faith in Mario. She assumes that the portly plumber will save her – he has been doing this for over twenty years, after all – and calmly waits for him to show up. Sadly, Peach is right. Within seconds of her getting snagged by Bowser’s children, Mario and his friends are already on the chase.
The crusade spans across eight different lands, each with its own themes and challenges. The progression and structure of the game reeks of Super Mario Bros. 3, and old-school fans will recognize several references and throwbacks to the classic title. You complete a stage on the overworld map, move on to the next, reclaim a fortress, and eventually conquer the castle at the end of the area. Since there are branching pathways and secret level exits, it’s possible to skip certain areas entirely. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll gain access to the Mushroom Houses strewn across the map and snag some spare power-ups. You’ll also clash directly with Bowser’s forces, particularly the Hammer Bros., via mini-game skirmishes. With so much variety, progress through the game is rarely anything but entertaining.
The stages are crafted around the basic side-scrolling platform gameplay of the 2D Mario games: jumping over death traps, exploring pipes for secret areas, and trampling the skulls of anything foolish enough to stand against your moustachioed might. What separates New Super Mario Bros. Wii from the pack is how it incorporates different aspects of the various titles into a smooth, seamless blend. You’ve got the standard leaping mechanics of the original, the power-up mechanics from Mario 3, the spin attacks and item throwing from Super Mario World, and the jump combos and wall kicking techniques from the 3D games. It’s amazing how well they all work together. The levels are designed with this in mind, too – unless you have a firm grasp of every move, you’ll never be able to uncover all of the fake walls and alternate routes lurking behind the screen.
Even if you’re not a completionist, you’re going to have to be pretty skilled to get through the adventure in one piece. Things don’t get tough until the latter half of the game, but once you’re there you’re pitted against increasingly difficult challenges. Remember how you can’t kill Dry Bones? Try defending a platform from a horde of them. Or frantically leap your way around a screen infested with Bullet Bills. Or swim through a pitch-black cave while narrowly avoiding projectiles and killer fish.
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