Super Mario Bros. Wonder Nintendo Switch Review

Mario and company are changing things up in wonderful ways.

By JustAnotherJake, Posted 27 Oct 2023

The original Super Mario Bros. was a game that quickly became a staple in the history of gaming as a whole, and as time went on, the sequels to that original platforming adventure have slowly fallen off the radar for most gamers. It is arguable that the Mario series of games has completely overshadowed itself with its 3D entries, leaving the classic style 2D games in the dust. This is a bit blown out of proportion as the 2D games still sell well, and gamers enjoy them greatly, but they never seem to reach that level of hype that the 3D games hit, or really the level of hype that the 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games get nowadays. However, in an ironic twist, as soon as Sonic tries to spice things up with another new 2D game with Sonic Superstars, Mario comes out with its biggest 2D game in the form of Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots

The gameplay is pretty much what someone would expect in a Mario game in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, at least on a basic level. Things are being changed very greatly this time around in the Mario series with a very different art style, level mechanics, and playable characters. Super Mario Bros. Wonder marks the first time that Daisy is playable in a mainline title, and while she may be the only truly new character in the cast, the roster has never been bigger. There are a whopping twelve playable characters with Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Blue Toad, Yellow Toad, Toadette, Nabbit, and four different colored Yoshis. 

In a surprising twist, Super Mario Bros. Wonder removes the differences between the characters that previous games would have had. This means Peach cannot float, Luigi doesn’t have his higher jump, and the Toads don’t have a higher running speed. So every character plays like Mario. There is an exception with the Yoshis and Nabbit, with the Yoshis retaining their iconic moves like the flutter jump and the tongue grab. The Yoshis and Nabbit are labeled as easier characters to play, where they won't be knocked out after being hit by an attack and can only be knocked out if the player falls into a pit. The big trade-off with these easy-mode characters is that they cannot use power-ups. 

These changes to the playable character in Super Mario Bros. Wonder are likely to not make certain badges irrelevant. Badges are items that can be equipped to alter gameplay in a large variety of ways. Some badges will directly impact the way gameplay happens, with some altering jump height or modifying the wall jump. Other badges will add to the stages being played by revealing hidden blocks or maybe adding some additional coins. There are a large number of badges to choose from, and it actively encourages players to replay stages with different badges in order to gather collectibles or find secrets.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots

In terms of collectibles and secrets, Super Mario Bros. Wonder offers quite a lot to find. The more typical collectible in the game is the purple coins. In addition to the traditional golden coins, which are used to get extra lives, that the Mario series of games is known for, there are purple coins that are reminiscent of the regional coins in Super Mario Odyssey. Just like in Super Mario Odyssey, the purple coins in Super Mario Bros. Wonder act as a regional currency that can be used at shops to purchase badges, extra lives, and an item called standees. The purple coins come in three different forms in Wonder. The smallest coins can be found in abundance and only equate to a tenth of a full purple coin. The regular-sized purple coin can be found in more challenging spots and is obviously worth one coin. The big purple coins are rare, with only three on a given stage but are with ten purple coins.

The other collectible in Super Mario Bros. Wonder that has a large impact that isn’t the purple coins is the Wonder Seeds. These seeds are Super Mario Bros. Wonder’s biggest addition to the series as they completely alter gameplay in a number of ways. In the large majority of stages, collecting a Wonder Flower will trigger a gameplay-altering event that, upon completion, will reward the player with a Wonder Seed. It is nearly impossible to sum up the ways the Wonder Flowers will alter gameplay as it can completely change controls and visuals. In most stages, getting this flower completely changes the pace of gameplay, but it can be totally skipped to keep things flowing. In turn, the other method of getting seeds is completing stages, completing challenge stages, or buying and purchasing them from shops. 

It is worth mentioning that Super Mario Bros. Wonder’s Wonder Flowers really do change up the formula that the Mario series has been running within its 2D-styled releases. These sections change things up in a large variety of ways that make it fun and interesting to go into each level with high hopes for what is to come. Although, as fun as these game-altering flowers are, there are times when a standard stage would be just as fun. Blasting through a classic stage layout is always fun when the gameplay is mastered, and there is still room for that. As mentioned earlier, in most of the stages with the wonder flower, the gameplay-changing event can be avoided by simply not picking up the flower, allowing for that highspeed blitz through a stage that many veterans of the series will be familiar with. 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots

The level design in Super Mario Bros. Wonder is greatly varied in both visual style and gameplay style. The world themes follow the typical themes of a grassy world, water world, mountain world, lava world, etc. But Mario Wonder merges some level themes and allows for a more varied visual look as well as a completely different feel to what is already the standard. As an example, the ice-themed world is merged with the sky-themed level. Completing the stages in this world has the feeling of climbing upward towards the top of a mountain. In turn, the stages slowly lose their snowy or icey elements and start adapting cloudy elements in their place. Each world is like this, so players will have a variety of level themes to explore.

The visual look for Super Mario Bros. Wonder is something the Mario games have stayed away from in recent years. Mario Wonder is incredibly stylized, so it is breaking Nintendo's seemingly infinite stretch of safe-looking 2D Mario games. Wonder has this very cartoony style that really has an emphasis on expressiveness. The game wants to show you what things look like so everything pops, whether it's the blocks floating in the stages, the faces of the enemies, or the weather elements coming down on the stage floor. The game looks amazing and really dips its toes into some new waters for the franchise.

While Super Mario Bros. Wonder may look bright and refreshing, there is one element the game falters quite a bit, and that is in the soundtrack and sound design. To start, the soundtrack is far from anything bad, it simply isn’t as catchy as many other games in the series. If anything, the music can be stated as good in terms of quality, but it somewhat feels bland. The best way to explain it is to compare it with a cartoon soundtrack.

Most of the music sounds like it would fit some wild adventures by Rugratz or Spongebob. Whereas many other Mario games have music that could simply be listened to as music rather than just as a component of something else. In terms of sound design, for the most part, everything is very standard and doesn’t really feel like anything except for the jump sound. The jump sound is seemingly trying to replicate the sound the older games made, but in this case, it is obnoxious, and with the amount of jumping the player will be doing it gets annoying very quickly.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots

Much like the Wii and Wii U Mario games, Super Mario Bros. Wonder has a larger focus on multiplayer than other 2D platformers. It still feels like the team behind the games has yet to master how local multiplayer should work for Mario’s 2D adventures, as the game definitely works, but it doesn’t seem to work as intended. As it usually comes down to one player dragging the others around, and with the system changing to always focus on one player rather than whoever is in the lead, it also is an issue that a slower player can hold the faster ones back.

While they didn’t get the local multiplayer right, the team absolutely nailed online play. Rather than being four players all on the same level at the same time, the other online players are ghosts and interact with things independently. However, they can still rescue another player if they fall, or guide other players to secret areas. This is all amplified by the addition of standees, signs players can place to help other players online.

There are some large behind-the-scenes type things to mention with Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Firstly, this title marks the first Mario game since Mario 64 that Charles Martinet isn’t doing the voice work for the Mario Bros. While many were worried about the new voice not stepping up to the level Martinet had displayed, every new voice actor in this game does a wonderful job across the board. To a casual player, this change may even go unnoticed.

The second behind-the-scenes info that should be discussed is the fact that the team behind the game was apparently completely free to brainstorm and develop this title without a set date to meet things. This is a huge thing for the industry, as a lot of major releases are held back by development teams struggling to meet requirements. It really goes to show how much that can affect a game when Super Mario Bros. Wonder releases in a beautiful state and manages to avoid a day-one patch or update.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Nintendo Switch, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is one of those games that reminds players that not only is Nintendo still a huge part of the gaming landscape but also that the Mario series itself is still as relevant as it was in the 80s and 90s. Mario Wonder manages to completely shock the series back to its former self, but it also manages to make itself a title that is a simply great time. It is just fun to play, and even when it has its moments of frustration built in, those moments wear off quickly as things change so quickly.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a title that will end up being an essential part of the Nintendo Switch’s library, and for great reason. It is a game that will stand as a shining mark in the gaming industry of what is possible. Mario Wonder may not be an absolutely perfect game, but it gets as close as possible by remaining the fun and cozy game throughout its run time.

Jacob Cowsert (@TweetJAJ)
News Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Nintendo EPD
Genres: 2D Platformer
Themes: Adventure, 2D Side-Scrolling, Multiplayer, Family
Release Date: 2023-10-20

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