New Super Mario Bros Wii has the same played out story where the Princess has been captured by Mario's famed antagonist, Bower, the King of the Koopas. The heroic plumber, once again, has to travel through eight uniquely themed worlds to try and bring her back. This won't be an easy task because Bowser's kids (you might remember them from Mario 3: Wendy, Roy, Ludwig, etc.) make a return and will stop at nothing to prevent Mario from succeeding. Fortunately, Mario doesn't have to tackle this alone. Coming to his aid is his beloved brother Luigi and two Toads (yellow and blue).
Just when you thought that Mario's 2D adventures were over, Nintendo went ahead and surprised everyone with not only another stellar 2D platformer but added something new to the series; simultaneous co-op. That's right, now you and up to four friends can participate in the fun together.
Playing with 4-players is fun and frustrating at the same time; it all depends on how serious you take it.
Just like other Mario games, the level design is absolutely stunning. There are plenty of boards that are just plain fun to play over and over again. Mario and company will have to navigate through all kinds of environments which include sliding on slippery ice slopes, swimming through crystal clear waters and avoiding ghosts in the haunted houses. Each level contains three Star Coins. Most are easy to pick up, some require extensive platforming skill and there are a few hidden coins that are difficult to find. Collecting coins isn't just for bragging rights because this game will reward you with an extra unlockable world for your troubles.
One thing you'll probably notice after the first couple of levels is that this Mario game isn't going to be a "walk in the park". This game is probably one of the toughest games in the series. This welcomed challenge will surely keep those hardcore fans well occupied for hours; especially the intense boss battles.
Fortunately, those who are new to the series don't have to be afraid because New Super Mario Bros Wii has a few helpful features for the rookies; this ensures that everyone can have fun. First, if you're playing by yourself and suffer a few deaths in quick succession, on a particular level, a green exclamation block will appear. Punching this block will enable you to watch a computer controlled Luigi complete the level. Luigi will show you a few tricks and point out helpful power-ups for you to mimic. Second, as you collect Star Coins you can venture back to the Mushroom Castle, in World 1, to unlock helpful videos. These videos will not only help you find those hidden Star Coins and secret levels but they are actually really fun to watch because the computer zips through the board as fast as humanly possible. Lastly, even though this game is challenging it's not punishing because you have an unlimited amount of continues; which means you essentially have an unlimited amount of lives.
Alright so let's talk about the new multiplayer feature which had many Nintendo fans drooling in anticipation. The multiplayer, in my opinion, is a double edged sword. The optimum multiplayer number for some serious gaming is two players because there are a few levels, like the up-scrolling ones, that just can't handle large numbers. Playing with more than two people gets way too crowded but that's not to say that it won't be fun. You can have a blast playing with 3 or 4 people if you go in with the mindset that you will lose many lives because pushing friends off an edge or into harms way is inevitable. Now there is a helpful feature for those playing with friends and its called, for the lack of a better term, the bubble system. Pressing the "A" button or dying will put your character into an impervious bubble. While you're in the bubble your character will become invincible to enemies and invisible to walls until someone "pops" you back into play. Shaking the remote will sling you over to your friends like a magnet. This is very helpful for new and inexperienced players because they'll be able to reunite with their friends easily. However, if everybody is in a bubble the game will end in defeat so be careful.
The main co-op mode let's you and your friends pool your skills together but there is another competitive mode (Coin Battle) which ranks the players at the end of each level based on how many coins they've collected. This can turn a nice platformer into a cut-throat deathmatch, which can get really exciting. All in all, the multiplayer is fun but there is one frustrating feature that isn't avoidable. Whenever someone gets injured, the game pauses for a split second which disrupts the flow of the gameplay for everyone else.
The controls, for the most part, work well. There are two control schemes: Remote only and Remote with Nunchuk. Both styles work just fine but the nostalgic Mario fan will feel right at home holding the Remote sideways. However, there is one problematic feature that hinders the gameplay; the motion controls. Spin attacks and the ability to pick up items are both done with a simple shake of the Remote. Now this is all well and good but the fact is that the motion controls are really touchy; meaning that even the slightest movements will activate a maneuver that you probably weren't expecting.
Most of the power-ups are really cool and fun to use. Along with some of the traditional Mario power-ups (Mushroom, Fire Flower, Ice Flower and Star) this game lets you pick-up a Propeller Suit (for flight), Penguin Suit (freezing power & sliding ability) and Mini-Mushroom (small & agile). Yoshi (green dinosaur that loves eating everything) also makes a return to help Mario and company.
Vibrant colors and superior level design really makes this game shine.
Like I said before, the level design is very creative and highly memorable; especially some of the more difficult platforming stages. The visuals throw a lot of vibrant colors which gives the game a nice “fun” appeal to it. However, the graphics aren't as clear and a little fuzzy around the edges which is a little disappointing but not a huge deal breaker.
The sound effects work well bringing a bit of nostalgia for the older fans of the series. The soundtrack is fun and upbeat, keeping with the overall theme of the game, for the outdoor platforming and underwater levels. The music then gets a little more sinister for ghost houses and castle levels.
New Super Mario Bros Wii definitely offers an exciting 2D adventure for you and your friends. You may want to play by yourself if you are looking to do some serious gaming. The multiplayer has its annoyances but for the most part, it can be an entertaining game for all skill levels if you go into it knowing that accidents will happen. For all those Mario fans out there, this game has quite a bit of nostalgia to rehash some of the good ole memories of the series' past. I would recommend this game to just about anyone; whether you're an experienced gamer or a beginner. Mario and friends are back and completely reenergized the 2D platforming genre for years to come.
Gary Eisla, Noobfeed