Sunday, November 29, 2009
Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
You know what? Even though I’ve talked a lot of smack about the Wii in my time writing for CBGames, I have to admit something. Sure, the Wii has had some pretty awful titles in its past, but overall, I’ve been massively pleased with the heavy-hitting games for the system like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Heck, even some third party titles like Muramasa: The Demon Blade, are quickly gaining a place in my favorite games of all time list.
And now comes New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a game that I shouldn’t even be allowed to review since I already have such a positive bias towards Mario (And this is classic, 2D Mario at that). Be that as it may, I’m going to say it anyway—New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the second greatest game for the Wii ever. The best game for the system ? Super Mario Galaxy, of course.
The splendor of this game, though, is that it’s delightfully old school and new at the same time. We've heard that plenty of times before about a new Mario game, as they tend to recycle the basic concepts and even the storyline from the original game (Princess Peach gets kidnapped again). But much like the Nintendo DS New Super Mario Bros., there really is enough new here to separate it from the 16- and 8-bit glory days.
First off, though, before we get into all the neato completo new power-ups and techniques, let’s talk about the game’s new multiplayer mode, which is so chaotic and fun that I’m going to brazenly say that this is my new favorite party game of all time now (better thanBomberman, even). With the stages in this game just brimming with obstacles, secrets and power-ups, New Super Mario Bros. Wii quickly turned from being a cooperative romp for all into an every man for themselves free-for-all full of chucking teammates off of ledges and stealing power-ups. Granted, the game provides "Free-for-All" and "Coin Battle" game modes so you can get this antisocial behavior out of your system but daggum it, I just can’t help myself from stealing and hoarding every 1-Up for myself. For some reason, I guess I just feel like I have the RIGHT to do it, being that I’m so good at the game. So, that’s my one caveat: when you’re playing multiplayer, play with equally skilled players or risk alienating others. My girlfriend and her sisters all admitted that it was "Too stressful” and "no fun" playing with me.
But if you’re the casual type who just wants to have some fun and doesn’t mind if somebody falls off a ledge or runs too fast and misses a secret passage, then you’ll definitely have a blast with this game in co-op mode, in that the game gives you enough opportunities to mess up that the fun is never really dampened. For example, you can play with two to four players (with Mario, Luigi, and two Toads) and if one character fails, the others can continue on without them until the fallen comrade comes back onto the screen in a bubble. It's okay to mess up, in other words. Also, the game rewards and promotes cooperation, as there are plenty of points that really need somebody else to jump on the other’s head for a boost to get a power up, or somebody to be thrown to safety to reach otherwise impossible spots, so playing together is really the way to go if you’re capable of that sort of thing.
But the game doesn’t really have to be played in a group as there’s plenty to do in the single-player mode to make it very much worth your while to do so. If I haven’t mentioned it already, this is vintage Super Mario Brothers with a few extra touches to really make it a new game, like the new power-ups of Propeller Mario, Ice Mario, and Penguin Mario, each adding new layers to the overall gameplay and structure. With Propeller Mario, it’s pretty similar to raccoon tail Mario in Super Mario Bros. 3 or cape Mario in Super Mario World in that you can take float over gaps that might seem impossible to cross at first. There's a lot of power-ups in the sky to collect, too. Ice Mario is very much like flower power Mario, but you shoot ice instead of fire. Simple enough. But some of these ice blocks can be used to scale higher places, too, so again, it adds a lot to the overall gameplay as a whole. And last is Penguin Mario, which is much like frog suit Mario in SMB3 in that you can swim better under water with it. The only difference is though that you don’t have to annoyingly hop on land like you did with the frog suit, making it a much better power-up in the long run. Mini Mario from New SMB for the DS returns, too, but alas, no giant Mario this time. I can see why Nintendo left this feature out though, as having three other players with one giant one on the screen could be a hassle (if two or three characters got it, you wouldn't be able to see the screen!). Also, a lot more of the levels are vertical this time, too, so it would definitely get in the way of progress. In
Structurally, the game uses a world map much like SMB3 and SMW, so it’s easy to navigate, with secret passages abounding throughout. Overall, though, there’s not much new here as far as levels are concerned. There’s a grass level, a desert level, an ice level, and so on. What’s interesting though is the new Super Guide Mode. If you’re a Mario fanatic like myself, you’ll probably never even use this feature, but others less hardcore than thou probably will, in that it provides a massive help if you can’t get through certain areas. Here’s how it works: If you die eight times in a row in single player mode, a green block will pop out and Luigi will beat the level for you, without revealing any of the hidden stuff. The idea is to save you from the stress of dying on one level over and over. saving you excess stress. Personally, I think it’s a great idea.
Now, at the beginning of this article, I said how this game is second only to Super Mario Galaxy when it comes to Wii titles, and there’s a reason for that. When you look back at the Mario canon, I really separate the games into two separate categories by saying that there are the 2D Mario games, and then, there are the 3D ones. For example, Super Mario World is my all-time favorite side-scroller, and Super Mario Galaxy has recently dethroned Super Mario 64 as my all time favorite 3D platformer, but if I were to compare the two, I couldn’t because they’re such vastly different titles. Really, when it comes down to it, though, as vastly blasphemous as this might sound, I actually prefer 3D Mario to 2D Mario in that the games open up so many different possibilities in the third dimension. Just think of Super Mario Galaxy, it was Mario…in spaaaaaaace. Would the game really have worked in 2D though? How much better was it when you could actually go completely AROUND a planet’s surface without the hindrance of it just going left to right? You could go inside AND outside of it. It was more than just novel, it was revolutionary, and completely liberating.
Still, as far as 2D Mario games go, I have to say that New Super Mario Bros. Wii is really only a few itty bitty steps behind Super Mario World in its overall scope and vision. Be that as it may, that’s still saying a lot that I could even come close to comparing the two since Super Mario World is unquestionably the greatest platform of all time, with only New Super Mario Bros. for the DS even coming remotely close to it. Well, New Super Mario Bros. Wii comes even closer to being the best 2D platformer ever. And just like I whole-heartedly believed Super Mario Galaxy was the best game of 2007, I’ll have to again wave my flag of allegiance to Nintendo and say that New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the best of 2009. New Super Mario Bros. Wii, quite frankly, is one of the greatest games ever made and it’s on the Wii. Who’da thunk it? Pick this game up now if you own the console. You really have no excuse.
Players: 1-4 Players