First Impressions: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
November 25, 2009
Balancing the expectations of a veteran enthusiast who grew up with Mario games, and a casual gamer only just getting to grips with the platforming exploits of the portly plumber was always going to be a tough task. Judging by the amount of laughs me and my girlfriend shared within our first few hours of the follow-up to the DS game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii makes a decent fist of it. And it does it in vibrant and colourful style, with a grin-inducing spoonful of nostalgia to boot.
The opening two levels (whilst couched in a World Map similar to those first found in Super Mario Bros. 3) are so reminiscent of the opening levels of the 1985 NES original, that you could be forgiven for thinking ithe game is a remake at times, but new features appear fairly quickly. The Propeller Mushroom allows you to swoosh upwards into the sky with a quick jiggle of the Wii Remote, and drift casually back to earth, usually through a streak of sparkling gold coins. The Ice Flower – a partner to the Fire Flower so obvious it’s a wonder no-one has ever introduced it before – freezes familiar enemies such as Goombas and Koopas in blocks of ice (naturally), allowing Mario or Luigi (or the two flavours of Toad) to smash them with a Ground Pound.
Other things remain the same, and always will, such as the Super Mushroom, the Super Star and 1-Up Mushroom – power-ups accompanied by a little jingle that brings back memories of childhood playthroughs of the original so many years ago. The flag-pole at the end of the level, resurrected in the DS version, also returns, and we even spied the fireworks booming around the castle when you complete a level with the timer ending in 9. Fans of the series are not neglected here; New Super Mario Bros. Wii doesn’t disregard its illustrious heritage.
The major change is the multiplayer element. Now up to 4 players play simultaneously, and it’s their interaction with each other that drives the central mechanic. It’s hard not to describe this game as a co-op competitive experience – players need to work together for some challenges, whilst stomping on each other’s heads to reach Star Coins in the next breath. This is where hilarity ensues – a well-timed (or poorly-timed) jump on your fellow player’s head could send them careening to an instant death, causing much mirth for one party, and much moodiness for the other.
In a few short hours, my girlfriend has experienced much of the latter and not a lot of the former, but it is hard to stay angry for long at Mario games. I’m hoping that the rest of the game can live up to these first exuberant steps back in the Mushroom Kingdom, for both old gamers and new.