Nintendo has been making Super Mario Bros. games for as long as they've been making game consoles, and after the mammoth success of New Super Mario Bros. on DS, it comes as no real surprise to see them continuing that tradition on the Wii. And while Nintendo have made it clear that the unique multiplayer aspects are the selling point of the game, when you sit down with this little gem the one thing that becomes abundantly clear is that no matter what Nintendo say, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is clearly designed as a single-player Super Mario Bros. experience with a few extremely fun multiplayer modes thrown in for good measure.
Anyone that's ever played a 2D Super Mario Bros. title should know what to expect from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Sure there are a lot of new twists in the game, but at its core it's still very similar in style to many of the 8- and 16-bit Super Mario releases so beloved by video game fans across the globe. Nintendo didn't stray too far from the gameplay mechanics they created for the DS release, but what they did do is take that system and really liven it up with absolutely tons of classic Super Mario Bros. influences. You'll see not only touches of the three NES platformers, but also quite a few Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island influences as well. You'll also see a new emphasis on playing the game as a multiplayer experience, which gives the game a whole new gameplay feel.
The story mode in the game is very similar in execution to that of the portable release. The world map is very similar, albeit a little more animated and a bit more intricate in its design, and you'll find yourself navigating around it in no time. As a single-player experience you'll play as Mario, with the choice of using the Wii Remote held sideways or the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combination. While the analog stick works well enough, you'll find the d-pad a lot more reliable using the Wii Remote on its side for some of the game's more difficult platforming sections. Mario still has all his trademark moves including fireballs, the ground pound and spin jump, but there are a few new twists as well. The Ice Flower allows Mario to toss snowballs that freeze enemies for a short time, and there are also two brand new suits to locate including the Propeller Suit, which allows Mario to spin high up into the air, and the Penguin Suit that lets you walk on ice more easily, not to mention slide along on his belly. You'll quickly find that the power-ups in the game are not just for show and become extremely useful as the game's difficulty begins to ramp up, which happens quite quickly.
As if the power-ups weren't enough, the game also makes use of motion controls to further liven things up. Not only will you have to tilt the Remote in order to manipulate many of the game's unique moving platforms (and there are tons of automatically and manually moving platforms throughout the game), but you'll also have to shake the Remote in order to pick up objects and perform your spin jump. While these motion controls might seem a little gimmicky at times, they still add a nice layer of variety to the solid control scheme.
As you progress through the game, you'll occasionally have to fight an enemy in order to continue along the map's trails. These include everything from spiny fish to the good old Hammer Bros. On the world map you'll see everything from standard levels to haunted ghost houses and even the trademark fortresses to conquer. The standard levels will even occasionally feature a captured Toad that allows you to return to the level to rescue him by releasing him from a "?" block and then successfully carry him to the end of the level. Not only will it earn you additional lives, but it will also open up more Toad Houses where you can earn additional power-ups. You can make use of these power-ups before entering a level on the map screen by pressing , similar in style to Super Mario Bros. 3. Once you've beaten the main fortress in any World, you'll be able to save your game and move on to the next world where you'll endure your next set of new levels that range from deserts to snowscapes and everything in between.
As a multiplayer experience, New Super Mario Bros. is a wild ride. When you choose the multiplayer option in the main game, you and up to three other players can all take on each and every level of the game much the same way you would as a single-player experience. Having multiple players will make some things easier and some things more difficult. You'll have to learn to work together as a team if you're going to beat many of the levels in the game, as they all feature a barrage of enemies to take out — not to mention some absolutely pinpoint platforming. You can even use the other characters to help you reach difficult platforms by jumping off their head. The character in front will automatically scroll the level, but this won't kill characters that get left behind, at least not right away. Any character that is falling behind as the level scrolls along will simply be pushed along by the edge of the screen. Of course if a character gets caught in a wall or is pulled into an enemy, they'll be killed just as they would in an auto-scrolling level. You'll quickly find this a good incentive to keep up with the pace of the other players.
If you want to play something a little more competitive, you can choose to take on one of the game's two other multiplayer modes. Free-For-All is basically the same as the main game only you and up to three other players can choose to play any level that you've beaten in the main game. This can be a useful mode for gamers looking to jump right into the thick of things and play specific levels without having to play through the game's story mode. You can also choose to play the game's Coin Battle mode where you and up to three other players run through a level trying to collect the most coins. While these competitive multiplayer modes aren't quite as enjoyable as the multiplayer cooperative mode in the main game, they're a nice diversion for those who've had their fill of the story mode or would rather compete against other players instead of working together as a team.
Whether you choose to take on the game as a single player experience or make use of the game's unique multiplayer scheme, you're going to get your money's worth out of the game. The play control is rock solid and there's an almost never-ending amount of playability throughout the game's many levels. Long-time Super Mario Bros. fans should feel right at home from the very start, but even they are in for some new twists the game will toss your way. Heck, there's even a help system in place that will have Luigi play the level for you showing you the best way to beat any of the regular levels in the game. Couple the game's amazingly challenging level designs with a wide range of pattern-based bosses and you have one of the most solid and impressive gameplay systems available on the Wii console and a testament to just how viable and creative 2D gaming can still be when in the right developer's hands.
It's difficult to judge New Super Mario Bros. Wii in terms of presentation as it makes use of a fairly basic visual style that takes a somewhat "less is more" approach to the graphics in the game. Of course all of the trademark vibrant visual nuances are intact, and there's not a square inch of the game that you won't at least somewhat recognize from previous Super Mario Bros. releases, but don't expect the type of visual experience you're used to seeing in many of Nintendo's first-party Wii releases. Sure all of the silky smooth animations you see throughout the many characters and areas of the game are impressive by classic Super Mario standards, but there will be times when you'll wonder why Nintendo didn't try to do a bit more from a graphical standpoint. That being said, it's still easy to see what Nintendo was going for when they put the game together and if you're a fan of the DS release, you'll certainly appreciate the increased spice they've brought to this Wii version.
Super Mario Bros. titles have always been well-known for their catchy musical scores and instantly recognizable sound effects and New Super Mario Bros. Wii is certainly no exception. The musical score itself is one of the best yet for a Mario release and shows some real creativity when you hear them alongside the particular level they're featured in. There's also no shortage of variety between the various musical tracks and truth be told there's not a bad tune in the entire game. The game features not only tons of classic sound effects from past Super Mario titles, but also a whole host of new sounds to further liven up the playing experience. Even the voiced dialog, which is as sharp and brilliant as always, tends to add yet another layer of audio charm to the game and rounds out what is easily one of the best Wii musical performances to date.
Not only is New Super Mario Bros. Wii chock-full of classic Super Mario Bros. influences from start to finish, but it takes many of those ideas far beyond what they originally were in past releases. Not only is the game extremely challenging, but there's so much to do in each world that you'll find yourself coming back to the game time and time again in an effort to see all the game has to offer. The multiplayer modes make the game an experience anyone can get together and enjoy and adds an even more enjoyable layer to what is already a brilliant platforming experience. New Super Mario Bros. brings all of the classic fun from past Super Mario Bros. releases together in one amazing greatest hits-style gameplay experience and does so in a way that only Nintendo themselves can do. If you only buy one game for your Wii console for the rest of your life, make sure it's this one.