Wednesday July 26th 2017

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Pros: fun for groups, kid friendly, simple controls, just like old Mario games

Cons: low quality graphics

I picked up a copy of New Super Mario Brothers Wii just before the holidays. I frequently played the Mario games on the original 8-bit Nintendo system as a kid and always enjoyed them. Over the years Nintendo released a number of other games in the Mario family but none of them really compared to the originals. I have found New Super Mario Brothers Wii features many of the old story boards I loved – mostly Super Mario Brothers 3 – while still making some updates to the game for the current technology.

Plot

If you played the original Mario games you will recognize the storyline right away. The princess has been kidnapped by Bowser – again – and it is your job as Mario to rescue her. In this instance it is Peach’s birthday party when Bowser shows up. As with all Mario games, this game is organized into worlds and each world has a number of levels to pass including a small castle in the middle and a final castle where you fight one of the Bowsers (the “big bads” of the Mario world). The biggest change to this game is the Multiplayer options. Unlike old Mario games where you took turns playing levels – you can have up to four players simultaneously. Most of the characters in the game you will recognize. In addition to Mario, players can chose to also be Luigi, a yellow toad or a blue toad.

When it comes to the bad guys, you will encounter plenty of your old favorites: goombas, koopa troopas (who now dance to the music!), Hammer Brothers, piranha plants, and plenty of others. In most cases you defeat these opponents in the same way you did in the past: jumping on their heads, shooting fireballs at them, knocking them out with a koopa troopa shell, etc.

Mario, Luigi, Toadstools, Yoshi, Goombas, Koopa Troopas... Oh My!


Graphics

While the graphics are light years beyond the original 8-bit system there is really nothing special about this game’s graphics. For anyone who is a fan of Xbox 360, Playstation 3, or even watching good HD cable you won’t be impressed by Super Mario Brothers Wii. The game is a cartoon and even for a cartoon I find the graphics pixelated. This really should not come as a surprise for anyone who owns a Wii though – it is not the sytem to buy for high quality graphics.

Controls

It should come as no surprise by this point that the controls are mainly the same as the original game. Unlike other Wii games you do not point the controller at the screen perpendicular to your body. You hold the control sideways – horizontal – and play like an old school controller. Most of the game is played with the directional pad and the 1 and 2 buttons.

There are a few updated moves that incorporate the wii motion aspect of the Wiimotes. In the game you can collect propeller suits that allow you to fly. Flying requires you wiggle the wiimote back and forth. You also wiggle the wiimote in various ways to pick up blocks and bump your butt through bricks, ice blocks and other obstacles.

Anyone who played the original games will have no problems playing this game. The new moves are easy to learn and on-screen graphics will give you hints to use them. I really liked that they left most of the controls the same and didn’t over due it with the wii motion like some games. These new moves are well incorporated into game play and not a distraction.

Gameplay

Unlike most other games made in the past couple of years this game is a “side scroller.” In other words you can only go left, right, up or down and the game lays flat on the screen. The game is closer to 2 dimensional, although with more advanced graphics than the 8-bit original you can see that things like boxes and characters are 3-d. For the most part you play the game from left to right and sometimes from down to up. In addition to the obstacles you see on the screen, there are pipes to drop down and false walls to explore for bonus areas with coins and other prizes.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will once again say that the game plays much like the original. The goals are the same. As you run through the levels you collect coins and for every 100 coins you get a free life. Stomping out bad guys will give you points – but you don’t seem to get anything for your points. Throughout the game you find hidden power-ups like mushrooms that make you big, flowers that make you spit fire or ice, penguin suits, and others. As you get attacked by the villains you lose your power ups until you have none and then you die.

Penguin suit power-up

You start the game with 5 lives and if you are good at the game will quickly collect more than you can ever use. Even if you are not good at the game and use up all your lives you can “continue” and get five more lives. There doesn’t seem to be a consequence for using the continue – aside from receiving the mocking of your friends – so in theory you really have unlimited lives.

An interesting feature they’ve added to the game is alternative endings to some of the levels. It seems that sometimes at random, and other times triggered by where you exit a level, you will open a different place. You might open the regular path or you may end up in a prize house or a special cannon that will take you to a later world. As a result you often need to play a level multiple times to experience all of the game and move on.

Multiplayer

New Super Mario Brothers Wii can be played with 1 to 4 players simultaneously. Playing with a group can be a lot of fun and lead to lots of laughs. It can also be frustrating if not all of the players are at the same skill level – or if you are all really bad at the game. It is easy to cause the other players to die in the game, you can bump them off platforms, land on their heads while they’re jumping or push them into villains. Players can also hog the power-ups like mushrooms, flowers, stars, free-lives, etc. One power-up will pop out for each player, but it is easy for one of the players to grab them all. This shouldn’t be a problem with a group of adults, but I could see this causing some conflicts with younger family members.

Multiplayer does have its advantages when defeating the bad guys. As long as you are able to stay out of each others way, two people can clear a level much faster than one player. Coins are also shared among players so everyone can quickly grab as many as they find and all players will receive the free life when the group reaches 100 coins.

I had the advantage of playing four player with some friends over the holiday. Four player got a bit chaotic, especially as we were all fairly bad at the game, but we had some good laughs. One thing that I did not like about multi-player is that it causes the screen to zoom out to be able to see all the players on the screen. At times I found it got too small and became hard to see. I much prefer the screen size in single player mode.

Chaos in four player mode


Audience

This game is great for the whole family. The early levels are simple enough that younger kids will be able to play and have fun. At the same time there are enough challenges to entertain a more experienced gamer. There are no blood and guts or inappropriate scenes so there is no need for parents to be concerned about the content. Players in their late 20′s and 30′s will appreciate the game for the nostalgia factor if they played the originals. The game is also great for parties because of the fun multiplayer aspect.

Conclusion

This game is a must have for Mario fans or anyone looking for a fun multiplayer party game. As long as you can look past the poor graphics this game will lend itself to hours of fun. It can be played by children or adults and it can be played solo or with up to four players at the same time. The game caries over most of the gameplay, characters and lore of the original Mario series with just a few creative twists. I give Super Mario Brothers Wii 5 stars!

Also posted to Epinions.

Click to watch the trailer

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