Remember back in 2006 when the Nintendo Wii came out and everyone was all excited about it? From house parties to nursing homes, folks were peeing themselves with excitement as they anxiously waited their turn to create their Mii or pwn their friends at Wii Sports. It was an amazing phenomenon.
But within a year, our love affair ended.
We realized that flinging around remotes like a bunch of psychos having seizures while staring at simple graphics that never moved quite the way we wanted them to wasn’t really all that fun after all.
My Wii gathered dust and got moved to the bottom shelf. I stopped inviting people over to play. And I waited for something good to come out. And waited. And W-A-I-T-E-D.
Then the New Super Mario Bros. came along.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Mario. Out of all the video games I played growing up, the Mario series was the only one to which I had any major attachment. I remember staying friends with a girl who was racist against Mexicans (which a quarter of me happens to be) just so I could go over to her house and play the original Super Mario Bros. I remember giving my brother the second player controller, playing a single player game and telling him he was in charge of the jumping just so I didn’t have to really share. I remember sneaking into my best friend’s den and playing Super Mario Bros. 3 in the dark with the sound muted about an hour after her parents had seen us in bed pretending to be asleep. Those were the good ole days. The days of great games filled with challenging patterns and side-scrolling action. And they made quite an impact on me. Hell, I even have a Mario MacSlap on my laptop and a question mark box sticker on my phone.
I got the game for Christmas and, during my holiday, I played through the entire thing. If I were forced to summarize my review of this game in five words, I’d say, “Dayum. That shit was tight.” But I’m not, so I’ll keep going.
You may think you could play this with the GameCube controller, but you’d be wrong. This game utilizes the motion sensors, so there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on. The intro screen tells you to hold the Wii remote sideways to play, but that wasn’t as comfortable for me as using the nunchuck and remote combo so I laughed in its face and did it MY way. That’s right. I’m a rebel. No one can tell me how to hold my remote. NO ONE!
I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about the gameplay because, well, it’s a Super Mario Bros. game. And if you don’t know how those work by now then there is something seriously wrong with you and you should probably just kill yourself.*
The New Super Mario Bros. sticks to the same story line and side-scrolling game play we’re used to but with a few new goodies including:
- New Power-Ups
There are several additions to the traditional ones like the Ice Flower that lets you freeze enemies and the Mini Mushroom that makes Mario teeniny so he can get into little pipes and run on water. One thing I really liked about this game was that if you have an Ice Flower or Fire Flower and are hit by an enemy, you don’t lose the perk AND shrink. You just lose the perk.
Multiplayer Cooperative Gameplay
You can play simultaneously with up to four other people as long as you’ve got enough remotes. Online multiplayer is, surprisingly, not an option. I tried playing with one other person and I kind of hated it. You can super jump if you land on another player’s head which seems great until you accidentally super jump yourself into an enemy and die one too many times.
Coin Battle Mode
This is a multiplayer scramble to collect the most coins. I didn’t check this option out, but I got a little taste of it during the end credits. I think this was the first video game I’ve ever played that had interactive end credits. You could jump around and collect coins by busting apart the titles and names. So if you can’t finish the game, but want to act like you did, you can just talk to people about how cool that part was.
If you die eight times in a row (and you will while simultaneously inventing new curse phrase combos such as “MOTHERFUCK YOU!” or “GODDAMNIT TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET!” – a couple of my involuntary profanity explosions) you have the option to turn it over to Luigi who will show you the safe way through the course. You can watch and learn or you can be lame and take over as soon as he gets through the part where you keep dying. Once Luigi finishes the course, you can play it through yourself or skip it completely.
One thing that drove me insane about the Super Guide is that, whether you activate it or not, after eight deaths, it appears as a big green question mark box and has an annoying doorbell sound that won’t stop until you can move far enough away from it to push it out of the screen. And it will be there every time you die and start over whether you’ve activated it before or not. It’s also annoying if you’ve made it to the halfway mark with no problem, but can’t seem to get through the second half because the Super Guide always starts at the beginning of the level.
Hints in Peach Castle
You can spend the big coins you collect to watch hint videos in Peach Castle to find out how to get 1-ups and other goodies.
Overall, I don’t really have anything bad to say about this game. There were times I was literally kicking and screaming and would have to walk away and breathe for a minute, but as Marquis de Sade once said, “It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure.” The game delivered exactly what I was hoping it would: a fresh coat of pixels on one of my favorite game series of all time. It helped me remember what hooked me into gaming to begin with: the comfort of challenging patterns. Don’t get me wrong. I love a nice FPS with good AI, but above all I love being able to memorize exactly where something is going to be and the best way to annihilate it. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
So dust off your Wii, replace those remote batteries and add the New Super Mario Bros. to your game collection. It comes in a fancy red case that screams “MARIO NUMBA ONE!”
* Unless you were kidnapped at birth and held in a cave until just now when you escaped, discovered the internet and found this article – in which case you should probably just ask someone where you can go to catch up on the last 25 years of gaming. I’m sure they’ll hook you up given your circumstances.