New Super Mario Bros. Wii best selling point outside of the multiplayer is the fact that it’s wonderfully designed. The game is a trip through Mario history, with enemies, items and areas from all of his sidescrolling titles making appearances. It’s very fun to see nods to Super Mario World and the original game in the same level, especially since each previous game had such a distinct style. Nostalgia doesn’t make this game–the excellent level design, tight controls, and the fun of the game itself do that well enough–but it doesn’t hurt and certainly adds to the game’s appeal.
Extra lives are easy to come by, thanks to the shared coins in the story mode, but you will also need them as the difficulty level has been ramped up. We’re not talking Lost Levels type difficulty–that will probably always be the hardest Mario game–but this is the next most difficult in the series in terms of excelling at everything. You can run through many levels as fast as you can, but you miss out on a lot by doing so, and many of the game’s hidden secrets are not so easily accessed. Continues are also unlimited–rather than counting down, they count up, so you keep track of how many continues you have used. If you get too discouraged, you can always switch characters for a clean record, or just wipe that save data and pretend you were always this good at the game.
Of course, if you aren’t any good at Mario games, you have a few options. First, in multiplayer, you can hide in a bubble by pressing the A button. That way, if you’re in a particularly difficult area or boss fight and you don’t want to die, you can hide until your partner clears the area and frees you from the bubble. If you’re flying solo though, don’t fret. You can use Nintendo’s brand new Super Guide in order to progress. You can’t just use this whenever you want–you have to earn the right to be given this advice from the game itself. Die at the same tough spot enough times, and the game will ask if you need assistance clearing the zone. Luigi will show you how it’s done in a basic form–you won’t find secrets or anything by watching the Super Guide, but if there’s a jump you can’t clear or an enemy you can’t get by, the game will do it for you.
You may think this makes the game too easy–it plays itself when you do this, after all–but remember two things. First, you have to do so poorly that the game decides it’s had enough, and wants to help you. I didn’t have this appear for me the entire time except for when I purposely wanted to see it in action, and there were a few spots I had to retry, so you really need to earn it. Second, Nintendo used this as an excuse to tailor the game towards Mario die-hards who want a challenge. As said, this is a difficult Mario title, and the Super Guide is there for those who want to play along or want to experience the game, but also would like to finish. Think of it as a built-in game FAQ.
In fact, New Super Mario Bros. Wii has that as well. There are three Star Coins in every level of the game. Collect these Star Coins, and then spend them at Peach’s Castle in World 1 in order to unlock hint movies that help you find hidden locations and items. Finding Star Coins can help you find more Star Coins. It would have been cool if you could record your own movies so you can show off to your friends, but not having that option doesn’t detract from the experience at all. Something to think about for next time though.
Blast Factor: The best way to sum up New Super Mario Bros. Wii is probably with something like this: Think of all of the games you have played in 2009. Let that sink in for a moment. Now name one that you think you will still be playing in 2019. Will I play New Super Mario Bros. every day for 10 years? Of course not. Will I still get an itch to play over the years, as I recall a certain level or experience? Based on my personal experiences–and those of millions of others–with Mario’s other 2D platforming adventures, the answer to that is yes. New Super Mario Bros. Wii stands up with the timeless classic 2D Mario’s of the past, and given how long it’s been since we could say that, it’s something to celebrate.
This game unifies those concepts of “hardcore” and “casual” that are tossed around by gamers and journalists alike, putting them together in one package that will bring a smile to the face of the most basic gamer and the most cynical headshot enthusiast. That alone is reason to own it, but knowing that you’re getting a game that gives you a reason to keep your Wii hooked up to a television even after this generation ends is impressive too.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is available exclusively on the Nintendo Wii, and retails for $49.99. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes.
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