New Super Mario Bros. Wii Review: Welcome Back, Old Friend

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A sense of nostalgia washes over you when playing through the first level of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It’s so familiar and different at the same time that it’s hard to pinpoint the last time you’ve felt this way. For most of us it was 1990 when Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in North America. For me that particular title was the last time I thoroughly enjoyed playing a Mario Bros. title.

For all intents and purposes, the latest Mario Bros. title from Nintendo is a reboot of the classics that many of us enjoyed in the 80s and early 90s. The graphics have been updated but it’s still a side-scrolling game from yesteryear, which isn’t meant to be negative in any way. In fact, this is the Mario title that Nintendo should have launched alongside the Wii, but better late than never.

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Nostalgia aside, Nintendo added one key feature to NSMBW that’s become commonplace in popular titles across all platforms in recent memory: multiplayer. One thing that was annoying about the original SMB titles was the waiting period you had to endure when playing two-player. It was agonizing to sit and watch someone else play. By adding this one feature, Nintendo has managed to quell the anger of core gamers while attracting new players- young and old – who might not have played the original Mario titles. It’s really a win-win situation for all.

But it’s not all fun and games because it’s not as easy as it used to be. Certain levels, which I will keep to myself, are downright frustrating and caused this reviewer to throw a Wii Remote once or twice and storm out of the room. I eventually crawled back and made my way through to the next level. And if it gets really bad then the Super Guide feature kicks in showing you how to beat the level.

Co-operative and competitive mode are a riot to play. What’s really nice about the co-op is that players can tag in and out whenever they feel the need, leaving a more skilled player to plow their way through the level without having to deal with a sub-par partner(s). When a player dies and has a cache of lives left, they reenter the game inside a floating bubble that others are left to pop. At the same time, co-op can be cumbersome and frustrating because everyone is trying to do everything. It isn’t like Ghost Recon, for instance, where a team leader directs who goes where and does what. It’s controlled chaos at best and all depends on whom you’re playing with. The ability to play online against others would have been real nice though.

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The team at Nintendo managed to sneak in the use of motion control and I don’t particular like it at all. It throws off the entire pace of the game when you’re forced to shake the Wii Remote when you’ve acquired Propeller Suit power-up. This also forces you to use a Wii Remote rather than a classic controller.

FWIW: At particular times I felt the game was a little laggy and unresponsive. It may have been the batteries in my Wii Remote but I recall a handful of instances where I felt the need to throw said controller at the TV.

As a gamer who adored the original Mario Bros. series, Nintendo has managed to win me back after the debacle that is Super Mario Galaxy. Don’t even get me started on those longwinded dialogue sessions! My Wii has been collecting dust over the years with the exception of a few Wii title reviews sprinkled here and there but I’m happy to say that I’ll be making room for the little guy next to the big boys in the entertainment center thanks to NSMBW.

PLUS: Techland’s Tracey John was at the Nintendo Store in NYC for the launch. Check out her video here.

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