New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a game that the old school crowd has wanted for years, as the warm memories of 8-bit platforming joy still hold a special place in the hearts of many. This time, the world’s most famous plumbers return to their sidescrolling roots with a slew of new tricks, two Toad companions, and dozens of exciting, secret-packed levels. Let the controller spiking begin!
NSMBW is a platformer that plays very similarly to 1992’s Super Mario World, with Princess Peach once again taken hostage by Bowser’s cronies. The first few levels quickly introduce players to a handful of new power-ups, including a high-flying helicopter hat and the enemy-freezing Ice Flower. The latter is particularly devious, as it allows the pitcher to use his cryogenically-frozen minion as a stepping stone to a secret area or even as a handy projectile to slide across the ice. While these power-ups add some spice to the platforming, the difficulty is the only area where New Super Mario Bros. Wii feels notably different from its predecessors. Sure, everything is fairly simple from the get-go, but the challenge quickly ramps up to the point where even the most skilled platforming pros will have their skills taxed to the breaking point. Just try not to hurl the Wii Remote when you miss the same jump for the fourteenth time.
Most of the pre-release coverage of NSMBW focused on the newest feature of the game: four player cooperative play. For the first time in the history of this venerable franchise, gamers are able to dash through a level with up to three other players simultaneously. Should a player die during the proceedings, they’ll return to the screen in a bubble that another participant will have to pop, a great way to allow less-skilled gamers to stay in the action no matter the difficulty. Unfortunately, the co-op experience is plagued by two rampant issues: collision detection and death lag.
Playable characters cannot pass through other players, as their bodies rebound off one another on impact. This causes gamers to have knee-jerk reactions and lose control when another player slams into them, usually leading to an untimely demise. This presents the other prominant problem in New Super Wii: once a player dies, the screen is temporarily paused as that character drops off-screen. This momentary freeze can royally screw up a player’s timing, even leading to a string of character deaths due to poorly judged leaps. While not game-killing, these annoyances are to blame for a lot of mid-level bickering.
Aside from the standard co-operative mode, which allows four players to journey through the single-player campaign together, the developers have added a Coin Battle mode for more competitive gamers. Here, players battle over coins littered around each whimsical environment, with one character being crowned the winner of each stage based on their performance. Of course, once a score is added to the proceedings, human emotion takes over, former friends become bitter rivals, one player purposely eats everyone else’s mushrooms, and the cooperative-minded gamers are quickly spiked into the nearest pit. Sure, you may encounter the random devious soul who kicks a turtle shell at you during a standard co-op level, but with no reward tied to that dastardly deed, it’s unlikely to be a constant nuisance like it is in Coin Battle. Either way, the co-op experience is diverse, lengthy and infintely replayable, easily becoming the recommendable way to play through this game. Unfortunately, no online play was included in any of the modes.
Despite that, New Super Mario Bros. Wii hits all of the right notes for an ancient franchise, bringing back the classic NES and SNES gameplay and updating it for the 3D era with some new Wii-specific tricks. This game is full of understated moments and finer details that present a grand overall experience, and any Wii owner–especially those with local buddies–would be best served to add this to their holiday wish list.
|Our Rating for New Super Mario Bros. Wii|
Classic Mario platforming remains as entertaining as ever, and bringing three friends along for the ride is a fantastic multiplayer experience.