First unveiled at Nintendo’s E3 2009 conference, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is not just a sequel to the DS game with a similar name. It’s an attempt to once again tweak the classic 2-D Mario Bros. platformer, this time by adding in an expanded multiplayer mode, some new power-ups and a little bit of Wii remote action.
At PAX, Nintendo had brought with them the multiplayer aspect of the game, which supports up to four players playing as Mario, Luigi, and one of two Toads. However, it was made clear that multiplayer and a single-player mode are two separate parts of the game: you won’t be forced to play with up to four people if you don’t want.
The levels of New Super Mario Bros. Wii draw inspiration from the older games in the series, but with new elements like giant rotating gears platforms that sway back and forth, there’s plenty of new challenge for gamers. The old slow scroll of each level is back, and too much hesitation will get you killed. Honestly, though, you’ll be dying enough as is that the thought of being squished by the game’s scroll probably won’t matter too much. The new items, the Penguin Suit and Propeller Suit, add further elements of change to the series. The Penguin Suit allows players to freeze enemies and glide gracefully across frozen ice, while the Propeller Suit lets Mario and Co. fly higher into the air, spinning around as they do. These items are available in specific levels that utilize their unique powers, so don’t worry: you won’t run into these in World 1-1 where they have no use. Yoshi also makes an appearance in this game, and you can ride him around much like in Super Mario World.
Most of the actual in-game sounds are nothing new, but they still sound crisp and fresh coming from the TV speakers. The game’s soundtrack changes depending on each level, with some familiar themes returning in new forms. The snow-based levels have a much lighter theme than some of the dark castle levels. But best of all, the Koopalings make a grand reappearance, and how I have missed them so.It’s also a nice break from having to deal with Bowser yet again in a Mario game.
The game operates on a 2-D plane, but the character models are in 3-D, much like New Super Mario Bros. on the DS. The character models and animations look well polished, but some levels are a bit lacking on detail. They just feel a litle too plain when compared to some of the more graphically impressive and higher-detailed levels. But really, graphics are almost never an issue from Nintendo on their first-party titles, and they certainly aren’t with New Super Mario Bros..
The actual multiplayer play itself was pretty easy to get used to. It’s just traditional Mario platforming at its core, but with a few little twists. You can jump off the heads of your friends to reach higher places, or pick them up and throw them around, right down holes if you’re feeling dickish enough. In the event you lose a life, you will reappear in a bubble on one side of the screen, floating until someone pops the bubble and releases you. By shaking the Wii remote, though, you can pull yourself closer to the nearest buddy. Of course, you can totally pop your buddy’s bubble over a pit and screw them again if you’d like. The Wii remote’s shaking also allows players not in bubbles to do a spin jump that breaks blocks and takes out enemies.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a game that will undoubtedly bring gamers together as friends, but it also might destroy just as many friendships thanks to its competitive multiplayer. It retains enough of what makes Mario great, while adding in enough new elements to freshen the game play style up. New gamers and core gamers alike should rejoice over Nintendo’s title, because there’s something here for everyone. The game comes out in Japan on November 27, but a holiday 2009 release for North America is all but certain.Powered by Sidelines