New Super Mario Bros. Wii - WII - Review
Few nostalgia-filled, old-school-inspired games have earned as much love – and as much acclaim – as NEW Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS. Its creation was brilliant: using several modern elements from the current 3D Mario games, the “new” sequel – which took us back to side-scrolling bliss – was a finely tuned, hardcore-developed masterpiece. No game in the 2D space could compare.
It seemed inevitable that we would eventually receive another “new” Mario, but up until this year, we had no idea that the next iteration would land on Wii. But that’s just what Nintendo decided to do, all the while taking a long and affectionate gaze at a fellow 2D platformer: LittleBigPlanet.
We all know what happens when one game developer loves another developer’s work of art: a new baby – er, game – is born. Just as the original Super Mario inspired Media Molecule to create a new masterpiece, Nintendo has turned to LittleBigPlanet for some inspiration of its own.
Mario’s strengths have always come from two key areas of game development: the controls and the stages. Using the Wii remote like an NES controller, NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii is pretty darn close to mechanical perfection. The seamless elements – running, jumping, effortlessly hopping across multiple enemies, etc. – are back in full force. Basically, if you’ve played a 2D Mario game, you can expect the same degree of control quality in NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii.
The levels – the entirely new levels, at least – are nothing short of being the inventive, ultra high-quality worlds we demand from the series. The level themes (caves, ice, jungle, pipe, water, lava, and a few others) are commonplace for Mario and are thus unlikely to impress anyone. But it’s what the developers do within each theme that produces a memorable Mario adventure – and a killer co-op experience.
Once again, three star coins are hidden in each stage, and though you may have an easy time finding most of them, there are several that will stay under the radar on your first time through.
Since you have the option to add three other players, all of the stages have been designed to be larger and harder than the average 2D Mario game. This means that you’ll encounter more enemies, be forced to tackle more hazards (the strong winds in the desert world are a nightmare!), and die much more often. The high death rate is so painful that you might initially think the game is being cheap. But in reality, the difficulty of Mario’s toughest levels is very close to another ultra-challenging platformer – Donkey Kong Country. Remember the torture of trying to weave between the spiky-backed bees for the first time? There are comparable moments in NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii.
With Mario, Luigi, and two of the Mushroom Kingdom’s finest citizens, one to four players can embark on this journey at any time. I’ll admit, the inclusion of co-op had me a little scared – while the four-player action was a blast at E3, the idea of playing these slightly oversized stages alone was a bit frightening. Typically games can’t provide an equal caliber of single- and multiplayer (co-op) gameplay. But it’s obvious that Team Mario learned from the best, designing a game that’s almost as fun as LittleBigPlanet.
Wait a second – almost!? When NEW Super Mario Bros. hit the DS, Nintendo essentially started from scratch. They didn’t have any levels, any artwork, or anything else significant to draw upon and take advantage of. Hence, everything they developed was fresh and exciting. There were throwback elements to the older days of Mario, but they were done in a way that made players smile. None of it felt like rehashed goods.
NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii, however, is based exclusively on the DS original. There are many, many new stages – well over half of them are vastly different from anything brought to the DS. But more than a handful of them feel like clones. To make matters worse, the backgrounds, character models, Mario’s movements, etc., are just barely upgraded versions of what we saw on Nintendo’s handheld. The new propeller suit is great, and the penguin suit is certainly amusing, but these aren’t innovative features, just merely a little something to add to Mario’s gameplay variety. Neither element changes the dynamic of a sequel that is, at times, a bit too close to a game that is more than three years old.
With nothing entirely new or groundbreaking introduced, there was no way for NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii to deliver a flawless experience. It’s wholly possible that if Nintendo had chosen to replace the rehashed levels with tons of fresh stages, gamers would have been less likely to recognize the sequel’s overall shortcomings. But when you see rocks falling from the sky and think, “Hey, I’ve played this before.” Or when you jump through a vertical stage as lava rises up, or defeat inept bosses that are rehashed from older Mario games, you will get the depressing sensation that you’ve experienced this before. That’s not a feeling the Mario series was known for creating. It’s certainly not something Mario Galaxy – a groundbreaking and spellbinding masterpiece – was guilty of. NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii shouldn’t have been guilty of it either.
Review Scoring Details for NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii
NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii is every bit the game it appeared to be: an undeniably joyous sequel with four-player co-op that your family and friends (even Casual Kelly and Doesn’t-Play-Much Uncle Don) will be completely in love with.
If, however, you are a hardcore Mario fan, be warned: though this game is amazing and lovable, it is not a perfect sequel.
Lookin' good...but not good enough. NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii is all but a visual clone of the DS prequel.
A mixture of old and new Mario sounds. That's the typical formula for a Mario game, but for this sequel, the new sounds and music are overshadowed by the classics.
Not so tough that players with average skills won't eventually win, but definitely more challenging than you'll expect.
This is a tough category to score. On one hand you have the levels that are entirely new, which are great, as well as the stellar co-op gameplay. On the other hand, this game likely wouldn't be here if it weren't for LittleBigPlanet (just as LBP wouldn't be here without the original Mario), and the rehashed levels are a huge disappointment.
The best thing to happen to 2D gaming since LittleBigPlanet. NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii is a blast to play alone or with others.
NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii is surely a classic – it just isn't as big of a classic as it could have been. You'll love it and play it to death, but don't be surprised if those painful feelings of déj� vu and disappointment take over every now and then.