Nostalgia can be a double edged sword. It can fill you with glee as you mentally transport yourself to an enjoyable part of your past. However, when you awake from the temporary dream-like state, you can sometimes realize that your tastes have evolved, matured. Whether for the better or worse, your tastes have changed, because you personally have changed over the past 20 years.
Mario, on the other hand, has not. Whether or not that’s a good thing is in the eye of the beholder.
Unfortunately, in the eyes of this beholder, it’s more of a bad thing than good. Before everyone flies off the handle for me not bowing down and kissing Mario’s sacred ancient butt, I need to make it absolutely clear, there is nothing wrong with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. For gigantic Mario fans, fear not, you won’t be disappointed with your purchase. It’s everyone else that should be wary before purchasing New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
If you’re anything like me, a gamer of the better part of 30 years who has seen the rise and fall of the side-scrolling platform genre, you might want to hold off on dropping $50 for Mario’s latest adventure. Instead, I recommend a rental. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is too much of the same for the common elder geek.
Sure, there are new power-ups, and now you can play with your friends, but honestly, how long do you honestly think a few new suits will keep you occupied? In reality, probably about a few hours. Recently I had the golden opportunity to play New Super Mario Bros. Wii with my adult family. We all had a wonderful time for a little while. But after a short amount of time, we were digging for different co-op family games like Mario Kart. I was even asked the question, “didn’t you bring anything else?” a few times. Ouch.
Moving on with the review…
Graphically, I feel that Nintendo took the easy way out with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The game isn’t as beautiful as it could or should be. While the 2.5D approach was admirable for New Super Mario Bros. DS, the Wii is a graphical powerhouse compared to its handheld little brother and any visual polygons on characters as simple as Mario and Luigi are unacceptable. An honest-to-god straightforward 2-dimensional sidescrolling platformer would have been a better way to approach the game.
The controls are exactly the same as they have always been with the exception of adding a few instances of waggle control and tilt control. Anyone who has picked up a Mario game in the past will not have to enlist in extensive control boot camp to understand the layout of the controller.
Most people who purchase New Super Mario Bros. Wii are going to be doing so out of curiosity for the unique multiplayer option that has been added into the game. All the fun of the original Mario adventures but instead of waiting for your turn to come, you can now all play together!
Again, I have incredibly mixed feelings about the multiplayer function. While some levels feel tailor made for playing cooperatively with more than one person. Other levels would be cake-easy if played alone, but the inclusion of other players sometimes makes the challenge infinitely more difficult as platforms become too crowded and players get accidentally pushed into obstacles. Order quickly becomes chaos. There doesn’t seem to be a proper balance between multi-player friendly and single-player friendly levels. More often than not, gamers will become more frustrated with the other players than they will at the challenges placed before them. While playing with my family, we all dreaded going into castles since we knew that it was much easier for one person to tackle the castle levels than it was for four.
As far as the challenge goes, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is definitely one of the most challenging sidescrolling Mario adventures to date. Whether that is a check or a minus in your book depends on the gamer. As far as the special suits go, the penguin suit is OK. The ice flower suit is fun for a short while, but I’d much prefer fire flowers (which are in much shorter supply). The helicopter hats make some of the harder jumping levels easier, but I don’t care much for the shake-to-activate mechanic and then the involuntarily slow decent that follows. Making an appearance from the DS version is the shrink mushroom as well which is functional for obtaining secret exits. Yoshi is present in the game, but he appears entirely too infrequently. I’m very disappointed by the lack of a “true” flying powerup like the winged hats from Mario 64, the cape from Super Mario World, or the raccoon suit from Super Mario Bros. 3.
But I am nitpicking.
When you boil down New Super Mario Bros. Wii, whether you enjoy it or not depends on what you want in your next Mario game. If you’re just pining for a trip down memory lane and enjoy some side scrolling adventures, then I’d only recommend a weekend rental. A full priced purchase may leave you with buyer’s remorse especially since you can purchase other, and in my opinion, superior Mario games in the Virtual Console marketplace.
On the other hand, if you know for a fact that you are going to play this game until you master every level and find every single secret, then by all means, purchase this title. For everyone else, rent this title. It’s just another Mario game. It’s really nothing worthy to write home about.