New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the kind of game that comes out once every five years. So rare is it to see a game that unifies elements that should be common to every game but seldom are: Innovation, purpose, and fun. In a game library saturated by rubbish, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is guaranteed to be the Wii’s game of the year, and a formidable contender for the best Wii title yet.
Nintendo guru Shigeru Miyamoto has been trying unsuccessfully for years to incorporate on-screen multiplayer into Mario titles; so what better venue to do this with than the Wii, “the console for everyone.” More than single player marvels like Twilight Princess, and more than Smash Brothers Brawl (which can leave beginners unhappily struggling against veterans) New Super Mario Bros. Wii embodies the console’s intended spirit.
This Wii game is essentially a sequel to the 2006 New Super Mario Bros. DS. The world map format, the feel of the controls, and the large coin collecting aspects are identical. The big changes include new suits (Ice Flower, Propeller Suit, and Penguin Suit), and Wiimote actions (tilting platforms and picking up partners). There are also two new game modes, Free Mode and Coin Battle. Free Mode allows you to play the story mode in any order you want. Coin Battle is a straightforward coin grabbing competition. The other big addition is the Super Guide feature. If you fail a level eight times, you can choose to let Luigi beat the level for you. Only Miyamoto could ever get away with such sublime blasphemy.
The gameplay additions are as fun as “Tanooki” is to say. Each tiny nuance is a small discovery of pure delight. These include things like throwing iceballs at fish and watching their frozen bodies float, Yoshi grabbing hammers with his mouth and spitting them back at the Hammer Brothers, and seeing four fire flowers pop out of one box (multiplayer). All of these features are brilliant additions that change an old-style level’s landscape into a different experience to be played afresh.
Since Mario alone has always been enough to beat Bowser, two to four simultaneous players may seem like an unstoppable force, but is actually a yin and yang of cooperation and competitiveness. This duality is due to one main factor: Mario can touch Luigi rather than just run through him. The precision of Mario games becomes much more difficult if you must share the tiny space on either side of the piranha plant, or jump the same hole without bumping into each other. By giving players the ability to pick up and toss each other at any time, Nintendo is asking for mischief.
Sadly, sometimes the cooperative play required to finish a level hinders the fun to be had. Racing full speed through stages as individuals won’t work for more complicated boards like castles. And planning with your friends, or playing in a strategic manner (you go, then I go), stunts the boundless ambition normally capable in Mario games. However, with infinite continues and a Super Guide, this becomes a moot point.
The greatness of the multiplayer addition doesn't mean that the single player suffers at all. If you enjoyed playing New Super Mario Bros. DS alone, you'll find this game is even better. And, If you are in the middle of playing alone, a friend could join in at any time, and when they leave (which they can also do at any time), you’ll still be having fun.
As a side note, There is a backlash against Nintendo for not adding online multiplayer to this four-player wonder. This complaint is held by those who have not braved Wii online play. The Wii network tends to have serious issues. Period. Can you image jumping over a hole, having someone drop out, losing your momentum, and falling to your death? Because that’s what would happen on a regular basis with online multiplayer.
It’s the little things that make this new Mario glow for a variety of players, new and old. Stored items are shared, so using one mushroom between levels means everyone gets a mushroom; players can drop in and out of levels at whim; and in the multiplayer madness, as long as one player lives, everyone can still play.
It’s the co-op heart that makes this New Super Mario Bros. Wii a must-purchase. Fun and quality have been missing from Wii titles for a long, long time. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the first glimmer of light in a bleak sky that may signify a new day is finally dawning.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief.