New Super Mario Bros. Wii Review
Release Date: 20/11/09
Firstly, an admission of guilt.
A few months ago I made the gravest of mistakes…..I underestimated the power of a first party Nintendo game. Having played NSMB for the DS on occasions, I was somewhat lacking in enthusiasm for the upcoming Wii version. It’s not that I disliked the game, it just didn’t provide the spark that I desperately look for amongst the dull tapestry of the Wii’s gaming catalogue. Thinking back, this is probably due to my continually waning passion for handheld gaming (I am personally of the view that Pokemon Blue version is the pinnacle of entertainment), rather than the quality of the game itself.
I then had the great privilege of being able to play-test NSMBW at the Eurogamer Expo back in October. Even amongst the hustle and bustle of the crowds there, it was still great fun playing, especially the 4 player co-op. A testament to the game would be that it managed to occupy a lot of attention, even amongst some colossal PS360 titles that were also being demo’d. Needless to say, my anticipation for the game was now at a deserved level.
First things first, co-op. I am yet to play the game much on my own such is the level of greatness of the co-operative…ness. When even the missus is wanting to play a video game, you know something is different!
Control choices consist of using the WiiMote on it’s side, or the old ‘chuk+’mote combo. Both operate in a similar fashion, however for comfort I usually go for a single Wiimote on it’s side.
After choosing your save slot, you are then asked how many players you will be using in that session (1-4, in case you didn’t know). Fortunately you are not bound forever to use the same amount next time, so you won’t have to start a new save should your friends decide to go out and socialise….losers.
Then, in true Mario fashion, you are given a cutscene involving the kidnap of Princess Peach (cmon, what did you expect). Mario (being contractually obliged to do so) sets off to rescue the Princess, but you knew that already.
Anyone who has played the DS version will know exactly how the worlds are laid out, as there aren’t many changes to the trusted format. Mario must make his way through a variety of levels, before facing a boss battle at the end of the world (as well as one at the midway point). Once the enemy is weeping at your feet, you move onto the next world and a new set of levels.
The co-op is thankfully implemented very well. The game remains fluid and runs at a solid frame rate despite the frequent flurry of on-screen activity. There are some very cool “team-work” sections where, funnily enough, you can work together to achieve a certain goal, be it reaching a special area, or collecting a number of coins within a time limit. Players are all given a set number of lives, meaning that if one person happens to die, they float back onto the screen inside a bubble, which can be popped by another player so that normal service is resumed.
There are also some nifty little techniques that allow the experienced players to help others through difficult sections. Players have the ability to pick team-mates up onto their shoulders allowing both players to move and jump at the same pace. Should the player on top have the Propeller power-up, they will also have the ability to carry their friend whilst hovering along. Another new player aid is the addition of Super Guide. Should you fail a level 8 times in a row, a power-up box appears during the level which, when activated, allows Luigi to take over from Mario in an attempt to clear the level. This is a great little feature, as it allows you to clear a certain section (rather than becoming frustrated) and then take back control from the CPU whenever you desire. All these touches make for a brilliantly fun multiplayer experience, which people of all ages and skill will love.
Aside from the multiplayer, all the usual Mario nuances are present (power-ups and whatnot) giving you that warm nostalgic feeling for the NES days. Yoshi even makes the occasional cameo appearance to help you through the game.
Story mode is not all that NSMBW has to offer though. “Free mode” and “Coin battle” could well provide some extra life once the story is finished with, and will certainly be a priority choice for those Wii party nights.
Free mode is very similar to the story, but can be replayed at any point, using any amount of participants. Players set off for the goal, and can either co-operate or battle to reach the finish line. The first to the end takes the glory, which often creates some fierce battles and a lot of laughs (knocking your friend into a pit by hopping off their head is a particularly sweet manoeuvre ).
Coin battle is also very similar, however players must collect coins on their way to the goal this time. Unsurprisingly, most coins wins.
Overall, NSMBW is a must have addition to any Wii’ers collection, especially if multiplayer is a high priority. Single player is a solid experience, but perhaps more suited to a rental if possible.
Final thought: The usual greatness from a Nintendo first party game.
Final though V2: It comes in a red case….woop!