mmm… statistics.
January 15, 2010, 6:00 pm
Filed under: design, gaming

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REVIEW: New Super Mario Bros Wii
January 2, 2010, 6:45 pm
Filed under: gaming | Tags: , , , , , ,

Ah, Mario. We’ve had a bitter-sweet love affair. There’s been laughter, there’s been tears, there’s been controllers thrown out of the window. We’ve been on and off over the last 20 years, and my, what a two decades it has been. Super Mario Bros on the NES  in 1990 was our first encounter. We were young and care-free – you taught my thumbs a thing or two. Super Mario Bros II came and went, and then, perhaps the love of my life, Super Mario Bros III. We flew. It was amazing.

Then things fizzled out a bit. Lands had been conquered, big dinosaurs slain, mushrooms and princesses rescued, and there was nothing more you could offer me. Until the N64 landed, and with it, Mario 64. To say I was swept off my feet is an understatement. I was hooked, I literally gamed entire nights away. Had to find all the red coins. Had to unlock every level. Had to find every star. Had to find EVERY STAR. I revisit this particular Mario episode every few years and it still fascinates me. Not quite as much as it did when it was first released in 1996, however when you compare it against modern console games, it still fares pretty bloody well.

Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii was really as close to a sequel (in terms of game design) as you can get. It was fun, but really didn’t offer much I hadn’t seen 14 years ago. The so-called ‘mutiplayer’ functionality was a joke, and I can’t forgive it for that.

So after that downer, I sprang hopefully onto Nintendo’s latest offering – “New Super Mario Bros Wii”. Back to 2D for Mario and friends, using a similar, yet modernised map layout to navigate through. The level time-limit also returns, thankfully, as do many of the vintage bad guys we know and love (hello, Boss Bass! Hello, Rocky Wrench!), which, as a result, re-lights some of the spark I felt all those years ago. The Wii remote is held sideways, making it feel similar to the tiny NES remotes. Battling Bowser is insanely tricky at the end of the game – I couldn’t help but wonder if the 7 year-old me would have been able to handle it easily, and my thumbs and reflexes have deteriorated with age, or if it was in fact just very, very difficult.

Nintendo have marketed this game heavily on it’s multiplayer functionality, which seems to be a bit of a shame as it is perfectly playable as a single player game in it’s own right. That said, I probably enjoy this game more in the multiplayer mode than single player. It is something Mario has longed for for many years, and has been executed brilliantly on this episode. I do have the following warnings when embarking on multiplayer, however:

1) Avoid playing with your partner unless you have a rock-solid relationship.

2) Do not attempt to use multiplayer to process through the game unless all players are at the same skill-level. Resent is an ugly emotion.

3) Do not play whilst in a bad mood. Some levels are extremely frustrating and it will only aggravate the situation.

Aside from the multiplayer enhancement (plus a few power-ups and secret end level), it really offers nothing new – whether this is a good thing or not depends on your expectations of the game. When you hand over your hard-earned cash for this game, you have to remember you are buying into two main things – the new multiplayer function, and the nostalgia factor.

So the overall verdict? It’s an extremely playable game, and as addictive as some of Nintendo’s most successful titles. The inclusion of retro landscapes and characters keep the Mario-fans happy, whilst it is modern enough for players of all ages and experience levels to enjoy it. Now I wait patiently to see if the Nintendo team can come up with an installment to top that of Mario III and Mario 64. Well, maybe not that patiently…