Thursday, November 26, 2009

new super mario bros. wii -- first impressions

The game is definitely worth getting. While I have only reached the fifth world (of eight) it's fair to say I've seen enough of the gameplay to form a general impression of the game. It is a 2D sidescroller in the tradition of the older Super Mario Bros., before the 3D "turn" on the N64. In fact, a lot of the levels' themes will remind you of levels in these older games. Mario still has his standard moves and not much more: jump, slide, spin, wall jump, etc. In addition, there are the ice and fire powerups, and there are two new "suits": one where Mario can transform into a helicopter allowing him to span the entire screen with a simple jump and spin of the Wii remote; and another where Mario turns into a Penguin, allowing him to belly slide over water, swim better, and shoot ice balls (like the ice Mario powerup). The worlds follow your standard themes: a water world, an ice world, a jungle world, a lava world, etc.

Sounds pretty standard for a Mario game, right? The big innovation that will really draw people to the game and enhance the experience is the cooperative mode. Basically, one can either move through the game according to the standard 1-player format (complete it 100%), or play the levels with up to three other characters on the screen at once. This added dimension really makes the game a lot of fun, though it is not without its weak points.

In terms of positive aspects, the cooperative mode adds a real feeling of teamwork and team accomplishment as you go through the levels. As anyone who has played one of these sidescrolling platformers before knows, they can be very, very frustrating experiences. But at the same time, pulling off a difficult maneuver, especially with another person there to cheer you on (and maybe even help you!) is a great feeling. Sometimes teammates will want to communicate with each other in order to get an optional coin (of course, with a bonus attached) or take care of a particularly difficult sequence of platform jumps. There is also a specific set of built-in team abilities, such as lifting characters to throw them to locations, or taking advantage of the helicopter ability mentioned above that are really fun and occasionally useful.

On the negative side, there are the obvious issues with having one or two good players and then a third player who isn't as good that can definitely affect the experience. This normally comes into play when the third not-so-good player gets in the way on platforms or can't execute a team strategy. This of course could affect any cooperative game so it's not really a levelling criticism. What really seems to be a weakness is that while the game is meant to have four players on the screen at once, there's really not much need for more than two -- the team problems you have to solve, as well as your ability to navigate the screen, seem most effectively handled with two players! The only reason I can see myself being wrong on this is because I've only had one other "interested" gamer to play with (one of my brothers) in the sense that my other brother and my sister either don't like it that much or aren't that good. Perhaps if I had two other people who were really interested the experience would change, but I'm skeptical at this point.

Here is a fuller review you may want to check out: Gamespot has the advantage of historical knowledge and says this game is one of the harder Mario's to ever come out, giving it an 8.5 based on this difficulty and the richness of the gameplay/replayability but also partly agreeing with me over the ambiguous nature of the multiplayer.

Overall, however, I really do think it's worth it and definitely whets my appetite for Super Mario Galaxy 2 in the first half of next year!


  1. I played single player in Game Stop a week or so ago, and thought it wasn't too bad, but I just can't see how multiplayer could possibly be any good on a side scroller. The reviews I've read mention that the game becomes almost impossible in the later levels "like Super Mario Brothers 3"... and I didn't understand, since I never had any problem with SMB3.

    On a side note, have you ever played SMB3 Challenge Edition? It's a ROM you can get and run through an NES emulator. Now *that's* a game that's actually difficult!

  2. Haven't heard of the smb3 challenge edition. I /have/ heard the "Super Mario Lost Levels" (available as downloadable content on the wii) are THE toughest Mario levels ever.

    My brother and I just beat it today. Toward the end, there were some levels which we actually had to do single player, but overall we conquered the game pretty quickly as a team. (Of course, we didn't do EVERY level but that's because we're impatient... I'll definitely go back and complete the other levels soon.) It's hard but not THAT hard. Although, I think getting 100% might take a while.

    Overall, I stand by my original recommendation.

  3. I'll have to send it to you. You'll become addicted to it fairly quickly. When I worked at Quizno's, we would play it on our laptops when it was slow, in a competition to see who could beat it first. Playing most of the day off and on, it took us about a week to do it.

    I might pick up Mario Bros Wii soonish, because hell, it's a Mario game.