Games Meet Metal: New SMB Wii: Single Player review

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

New SMB Wii: Single Player review

It had been almost two entire decades since we had seen the sanguine Italian plumber star in an original 2d console outing, not counting handhelds. Until NSMB Wii hit shelves in late 2009, the most recent 2d Mario on a home system had been Super Mario World; in 1991 for cryin' out loud. But now, 2d Mario goodness is back, and he's brought a few new (and some old) surprises as well.

The first thing one might notice is that the graphics aren't always up to snuff with todays finest digital eye-candy showpieces. This is true even if you're a Wii only gamer, like I was until February of last year. Even though it's still quite a stretch away from what I'd typically call an "ugly" game, it has more than enough brilliantly designed platforming levels that more than make up for any visual shortcomings. At least in my opinion. Others might dismiss it for being thematically the same as every other Mario game to come out. But like Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts to a lesser extent, Mario is a series that absolutely thrives on its nostalgic value. It's hard for me to hate a game for staying true to its roots (ex: Sonic and the CDi Zelda games *shudder*).

As such, if you've played any traditional Mario game in the past, the story shouldn't come as any surprise. Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser and his minions for the umpteenth time, and Mario must once again save her. This installment also sees the return of all 7 Koopa brats, last seen in the aforementioned Super Mario World nearly 20 years ago, in addition to Bowser Jr who is still relatively new.

NSMB Wii may be a return to the 2d format, but it doesn't completely disregard Mario's 3d adventures either. Making their return are the acrobatic triple jump, wall kick, and a slimmer, more athletic Mario that was missing from the more chunky 8/16 bit days. You'll occassionally have the option to hop on a Yoshi, although unlike SMW, you can only use him in that level. Even if you make it to the final flag of the stage while still riding your dinosaur pal, you and Yoshi will part ways as you move on to the next level.

The controls are tight as always, and most (key word here, I'll explain in a minute) of the level designs are among the best in the series. They're challenging, but always fair. If you die (and you will. A LOT), it isn't the result of poor programming or game design, it's because you made a mistake and you'll have to go back and try again. That's not to say that there aren't some completely fucking moronic levels in this game, because there most certainly are. Two levels that immediately pop into mind are the pitch black levels, where you need to use fireballs (if you have them) just to see AND make some tricky leaps. The underwater level of this sort made me want to fly to Japan just to shoot the guy who designed that level...ugh! The second type requires you tilting the Wii remote to move your platform, while at the same time having to avoid bombardments of Bob-ombs, Koopas, and whatnot making for some very awkward, frustrating moments. But thankfully, these types of levels are kept to a bare minimum, and you'll usually have a decent amount of extra lives enabling you to try about as many times as you want.

Although I won't go in depth with the multiplayer mode (I have only one controller); just know that it exists. Apparently, there is a co-op quest that allows up to 3 other players to play as Mario, Luigi, or either of the two colored Toads (blue and yellow). There's some competitive multiplayer options built in too.

If you love Mario, or have even a passing interest in platformers, this game is a must have. It gets a Slaytanic.

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