New Super Mario Bros. Wii
New Super Mario Bros Wii isn’t the easiest title to pronounce but still the announcement at E3 this year managed to draw my attention. Maybe it was because of the nostalgic feeling that appeared when seeing the simple 2D gameplay, but is that old gameplay still as rock solid as it was.
Mario doesn’t live by storylines, for years we’ve been seeing the recycled aspect coming back. Bowser and his unhealthy fetish for princesses again overshadows the game. During Princess Peach’s birthday a giant cake is delivered but unfortunately Bowsers hoodlums are inside and kidnap her. Mario, Luigi & two Toads don’t stand around doing nothing but immediately see a reason to kick some goombas.
The choice to bring a new Super Mario to the wii comes from the unequalled success the previous DS version, New Super Mario Bros, achieved. The title got sold no less than 15 million times. Of course a Wii version means totally different controller setup, but Nintendo made the wise decision to minimise the motion activation. The player can choose between the Wii Remote together with the Nunchuk or only the remote that you have to hold sideways. Although the concept with the Nunchuk works fine, I preferred the latter to recreate the feeling you’re playing with a NES controller. This setup is simple although it originated in 1985 it still feels fresh and current-day to play this way.
The movement you do with the Wii Remote is minimal but inventive. You get to use platforms or lights but tilting it and this brings forth hardly any issues except for one; in certain situations you need to push a button, shake and navigate towards platforms at the same time. This is a bit overkill during the more difficult moments in the game. A small complaint, however, as nowhere else does the controller setup mess with the gameplay and it will remain fun shaking with the Wii Remote to make Mario do a swirling jump. The shaking also works fin with a new power-up, the propeller suit with which you get to fly for a while and can reach higher ground for coins and other power-ups.
Talking about power-ups, next to the propeller suit we get a couple of others next to the traditional mushroom and fire flower. An Ice flower and Penguin suit are introduced where the first is identical to the fire flower but freezes your enemies into ice cubicles while the latter makes it possible to swim and throw ice balls faster and easier. The gliding on your belly brings the necessary variation to defeat enemies and an additional method to reach difficult areas. The new power-ups are a welcome change and a certainly among the best we’ve seen in Mario games.
Also back are the alternative paths you can unlock to travel quicker throughout the world. The good old times are back it seems! Luckily the endless replaying when you die hasn’t returned. As of world 6 the game gets tougher but an experiened Mario player will never have any problems. For the newcomers there’s a new Super Guide present which has Luigi taking over and guiding you to the end of a level without you having to sweat one drop.
Eventhough the game is fun alone, Nintendo introduces the possibility to play with multiple people. Whether you find this mode a welcome innovation or rather a frustrating problem depends entirely on yourself and your partners. With good agreements you can perfectly play together, except for some accidents like pushing someone in a botomless pit or against an enemy. Without such agreements you’ll quickly end up in chaos that makes the game a lot less playable. Luckily Nintendo has foreseen this and added the competitive “Coin Battle” where players have to collect as much coins as possible. This results in pleasant competition with some harmless swearing against each other, especially when stealing power-ups from your (girl)friend.
The looks of the game are comparable with those of the DS version but a bit more polished. The level design is similar to that which we’ve seen over the past 20 years, but it never starts to bore. The bright, happy colors are still present and Ninty still manages to be quite inventive. An example of this is a level that takes place on giant caterpillars while another lets you navigate on flying Mantas. And the sound? Well, that’s been doing its job for years and now still perfectly suits this game.
Those that have never played a Mario game before are obliged to experience this new one. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a true Mario game for young and old. The multiplayer element isn’t the most important selling part but does bring some pleasant innovation despite the chaos it causes. 2D Mario at its best, despite the years of absense.