New Super Mario Bros. Wii delivers


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New Super Mario Bros. Wii delivers

Mario, it’s like you’ve never left.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii easily belongs in the 2009 Game of the Year conversation along side Call of Duty” Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed 2 and Dragon Age Origins. Any Game of the Year award not including this game as a nominee isn’t worth its weight in mushrooms.

Yes, the game is that good. Yes, developer Shigeru Miyamoto is that brilliant. And yes, New Super Mario Bros. Wii delivers on every single promise.

The game marks the return of the classic two-dimensional, side-scrolling Mario game made famous back in the early 1980s and especially with Super Mario Bros. 3 in 1990. Those games and characters took a fledgling industry once thought of as a short-lived fad and instantly transformed video games not only into a bona fide form of entertainment but almost into a legitimate art form.

Mario party games, RPGs, three-dimensional adventures, and numerous other spin-offs ensued, but New Super Mario Bros. Wii brings the entire franchise full circle.

“I’d say that we’ve come up with a title that everyone, from those who are not that skilled, right through to those who are highly-skilled, can all enjoy the fundamentals of Mario games,” Miyamoto said of the Wii game in a Nintendo interview. (

Yep, the penguin suit is awesome

In essence, it is a Super Mario Bros. game. It can be played with the Wiimote acting like the old-school NES controller—one thumb on the directional pad and the other on the A and B buttons. You can also control Mario via the Nunchuk, but it does seem to take away from some of the old-school charm in my book. The gameplay, however, remains nearly identical to what it was 20 years ago.

(Sidenote to Nintendo: Nintendo, please make a Wii attachment that looks and feels just like the classic NES controller. With so many NES games on the Virtual Console, and now New Super Mario Bros. Wii, an old-school controller would be perfect. Thanks.)

What elevates this game to the top of the list in the Mario genre is its sense of fun. In a day and age when more games market themselves as gigantic cultural seismic shifts, this game just aimed to be as fun as possible without alienating the more experienced gamer.

The graphics absolutely leap off the screen. The layered images, the dancing Koopa Troopas and lush backgrounds immediately bring the gamer into the scene. Are the graphics on par with some of the heavy-hitters on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox360? No way, but they don’t need to be when the game is this fun.

Fun for everyone

As for the gameplay, it does boast enough challenge to keep the veteran game on edge. World 4 may make you weep with its crazy puffer fish, but you’ll continue to come back.

Among the new features in New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the introduction of multiplayer modes , allowing four people to go through the Mushroom Kingdom at the same time to save the perpetually stolen Princess Peach. It does take a little getting used to when playing with other people. While it’s easy to overrun the screen and leave the others scrambling to catch up, once everyone gets into a groove of how to navigate the world, it adds a new dimension to the game.

Also, all the players (Mario, Luigi, and the not-very-creative Blue Toad and Yellow Toad), can jump and bounce off one another.

While this is fun, the game’s main draw is a ridiculously fun one-player mode. The additions of a Propeller Suit, an Ice Flower, a Mini-Mushroom, and a stupid-cute Penguin Suit are fun new additions to the game. Also, the walkthrough offered after dying multiple times on the same level proves very helpful and keeps the frustration temporarily at bay.

The game is just plain fun, though. It updates the classic elements everyone grew up with, yet Nintendo made the game accessible.

The Wii was once dismissed as having the power of two Gamecubes smashed together with duct tape. When Nintendo is committed to making games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, though, the problems presented by lack of processing power and HD graphics fade into the background.

Cooperation gets the job done

A fun game is not predicated on how much can be packed into a single disc. Great games are, and will always be, judged by their gameplay.

Two main things happened when I first popped the game into the Wii:

First, my wife immediately asked for the Wiimote. Not an avid gamer by any stretch, she did play Super Mario Bros. 3 regularly when we downloaded it for the Virtual Console. She even once did the perpetual 1-up thing on World 2 and got 99 men. Well, it took about five minutes for this game to be deemed worthy of her. I cannot play when she’s around because she’ll want to take over. It’s that good.

Second, our first child, who just turned two, was immediately mesmerized by the game. It was Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Barney all put together to her. She danced to the music, applauded when Mario got past a level, and said “Oh no” when the little plumber met an unfortunate demise.

For me, it was 1990 all over again. I’m in my room, trying to get that last gold coin before my mom yelled for me to go to bed.

Now how many games can do that?

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