When I reviewed New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS, I loved it and went lengths to explain how much I liked it. In that light, since this is the evolution of that concept, I’m not going to go in depth about the base concept or Nintendo going back to basics here. Instead, let’s cover what makes this a great game.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii controls similar to any of the great 2D Mario games from the NES on the Wii’s Virtual Console, with the exception of a waggle-based ‘jerk’ where you yank the controller upwards to make Mario do a spin move. You know that motion non-gamers make with the controller when they want to ‘help’ Mario jump? That one. This spin move is crucial for one of Mario’s new power ups, the propeller cap. The propeller cap allows you to spin upwards and spiral down slowly. The other new power up is the penguin suit, a slick combination of the ice flower (a power up from Mario Galaxy that made it’s way here) and Mario Bros. 3’s frog suit. It aids in swimming and you can throw snowballs to freeze enemies. Frozen foes make good jumping platforms.
One other quirk in the control is tilting the Wii Remote to rotate platforms (as seen on this page) or turn a searchlight. These extra controls are tricky, so they should go to the best player in a group in multiplayer.
Speaking of multiplayer, that’s the big bullet-point feature everyone thinks about when you mention this game: The four-player multiplayer. Playing with more then one player is a riot, no two ways about it. Of course, how you define ‘riot’ depends on who you play with. Here, riot can either mean great, action-packed fun or shear, unmitigated chaos. In my experience, the second case was more common. Everyone I played with had fun, but it was crazy. As long as one player is good enough to stay alive, if other players die they come back in a bubble (a la Baby Mario in Yoshi’s Island) and can be rescued back into action.
Personally, I’m happy to have the Kooplings from Mario Bros. 3 and Mario World back, because Bowser Jr. is a little boring. In each level you meet a Koopaling mid-world in a fortress, and then you fight them again at their castle at the end of their world. I was sad that Boom-Boom from Mario Bros. 3 didn’t make the jump, though.
Visually, this is the best looking 2D Mario game ever made, but when you consider that it’s only real competition is New Super Mario Bros. on DS, that’s not any great feat. Sound-wise, the game is good, but not fantastic. If I were to compare this to it’s DS cousin, I would take this version in a heartbeat. The controls are tight, the waggle features are intuitive and non-obtrusive, and multiplayer is good fun for most anyone who picks up a controller. If you’ve got friends who like gaming but can’t get into the more complex Super Mario Galaxy, this is a great way to pull them in to Mario’s world. Alphasim out.