New Super Mario Bros. Wii - WII - Preview
From the moment the DS was announced, NEW Super Mario Bros. was on gamers' minds. We couldn't wait to find out if the world's most popular game mascot was truly capable of going back to his 2D roots. Would the game match the quality of Mario 3 and Mario World? Would we love it just as much as the modern classic, Mario 64? The answer to both of those questions turned out to be yes, resulting in a game that was one of Mario's most clever and addictive adventures yet.
This fall, Nintendo will take the gameplay format of NEW Super Mario Bros. and bring it to Wii in an all-new sequel. New levels are a given, as are new power-ups, including Penguin Mario (use this suit to slide down ice ramps and plow through bricks) and Propeller Mario (use it to fly up and gradually float down). The best addition, however, is multiplayer co-op. For the first time ever, four players can run through a Mario game together. They can work as a team or work against each other just for fun. If this sounds like LittleBigPlanet, that's because it very much is. But in Nintendo's defense, we all could tell that LittleBigPlanet's inspiration came from Mario (the developers have even talked about wanting to add back-flips to LBP, a move popularized by Mario). With NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii, it's like the inspiration has come full circle.
Once you stop making comparisons and pick up a Wii remote, you'll discover a game that is fast, polished, and insanely fun to play. To compensate for the added Marios (two Marios and two Toads, to be exact), the game worlds are much, much larger. They may not take any longer to finish, since their length is about the same as the DS prequel. But they are much taller, and the objects and environmental elements (moving platforms, for example) were designed to reflect that.
While interacting with others, Mario can pick up and throw his colleagues to safety...or danger. If you jump on top of an ally, you'll notice that the ricochet jump that follows off his head is a little weaker than if you were to jump on a Goomba. At the same time, the character that gets jumped on top is now at a disadvantage; he isn't injured but his moves are greatly reduced. If you were about to jump just before getting jumped on, you'll go straight down.
Though it may seem a little chaotic at first, this was a wise development decision. Every move, even one as simple as running into an ally, can negatively affect your team. That may be what you're after, especially if points are your number-one priority. But during E3 it didn't seem right to play with malice, so I did my best to be fair. I'd say the other players (journalists like myself) did the same. And still, we got in each other's way, caused each other's deaths, and often made it more difficult for ourselves than it had to be. But that was part of the fun. After a couple of levels, we were frantically rushing to be the first to touch the flagpole. It wasn't the point gain (the first person to touch it scores the most points; after it's touched, the remaining players must touch it with three seconds or they will not receive any bonus points) that intrigued us as much as the prospect of getting through a level without dying. Five lives were assigned to each player, but that rarely seemed like enough.
It's not always easy to predict how far along a game is at E3, but it would seem that NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii is ready to go. The demo offered several different levels including one of Bowser's castles (which featured a boss battle with one of his kids), an ice world, a desert stage, a couple of traditional environments, a platform-heavy world, and a couple of others. All of them played great. There were always three others playing with me, but it's a safe bet that these levels will be a blast with or without a team.
Strangely, despite the level and multiplayer advancements, the graphics remain the same. We all know that Wii's hardware is much more powerful, however, it seems that Nintendo wanted to retain the same look. Thus, it's not a bad-looking game, not at all. But it's nowhere near the beauty of Mario Galaxy.
Regardless, there's little doubt that the millions of Mario fans will even think about the visuals when the game hits stores. All things likely, the only thing they (we) will be thinking about is where their nearest retailer is and how long it will take to drive home.