Those of you who talk to me on a regular basis will be familiar with a complaint I've recently formed about the internet. Basically, I am getting too old for the internet. Don't get me wrong -- I love the whole democratization thing, and all the wonders that come out of the internet literally every minute of the day. It is truly a great space for knowledge production and social networking. But sometimes democracy can get out of control. A beautiful (and yes, I am speaking here in a truly endearing tone, despite my criticisms) example of this is the gamefaq's message boards. One or two people can start up an interesting argument or observation of a game and have hundreds (if not thousands) of followers within a few days. Every other main topic thread posted will have some discussion of the criticism's implications for future Mario games or gaming in general. Sometimes, good points are made but other times, it is obvious that there is little empirical support to the claims. At any rate, leave a comment if you want some more examples. Depending on the amount of response and how I feel I may just make an entire post on this subject.
Anyway, this is definitely the case with popular opinion on Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros. DS, which came out in 2006. Some complained the game was too short. Certainly each level is somewhat short, shorter relative to the New Super Mario Bros. Wii levels, but there are many levels overall (more than in Wii - probably over 10 per world), and in no way does it make the game short. As with most of the newer Mario games (and some of the older ones, though to a lesser extent) there are essentially two "paths" to beating the game -- either one can plough straight through each world (there are eight total), or focus on meticulously gathering all of the star coins in each level and searching for all of the hidden exits to beat the game 100% (or, at least make that attempt).
So in fact, the game is not that "short" if one considers travelling down the second path, since there will be so many levels to play through in addition to replays through levels for star coins and secret exits. In fact, travelling down the first path, one can beat the game without even seeing every world! Two worlds require a secret challenge (I'll not spoil it) to access them. I should note that this challenge is an interesting inclusion and adds some difficulty to a game that suffers at times from being on the easy side.
I should add that, also contrary to popular opinion, the game is not dreadfully easy. Some of the star coins require a bit of thought, as well as skilled usage of the powerups. The game gives the appearance of being easy for a variety of reasons. First is the point mentioned above about how two of the worlds can be completely ignored and you can still beat the game. Second is the easy boss fights. Third, on a point related to (2), the powerups could be a bit more balanced, since the fire flower makes for some extremely easy boss fights and "big Mario" is not that useful except in getting a few of the star coins. These are good reasons to be critical of the game, but I don't think they hold the gamer back from truly having fun.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game. It was pretty easy, especially the boss fights, but there are definitely enough challenges to keep you interested in working for 100%.
By the way, I have nothing to say about the multiplayer modes since I haven't played them.
I have an experiment I seriously want to try at some point in the near future. I am going to buy some game on its release date, play it obsessively for like 2 days, and then go on gamefaqs. I will proceed to devise and persuasively and forcefully promulgate some ridiculously absurd claim about it and relentlessly attack the game on the message boards, on a review, and maybe even on some stickies ("KEEP BUMPING THIS &^()#@'). I need proof that my above claims are correct. I must see it for myself, and as a true social scientist, this means I must actually do it for myself.