This is harder than it looks

Now we've had chance to play the final version of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it's time to tell you the hard truth about Nintendo's latest plumbing escapades. Well, the hard truth is, it's a lot of fun and impossible to play without a smile on your face.

Although a lot of emphasis has been put on the series-first multiplayer, solo play is still possible and feels exactly like series high-points Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3. You move between levels on a top-down map - though you can play any unlocked level in Free Play mode if you dislike walking about - and once you've cleared the world's final castle you can move onto the next world. There's mid-world castles, piranha plants to climb and all the stuff you would expect in a Mario title, though no sign of any warp whistles.

From the first instant you push right on the d-pad you'll be right back into the Mario groove as though he never left two dimensions, but that's not to say this is a mere retread of his former glories. Each level is brand new, with rotating floors, swinging platforms and narrow wall-jumping sections all combining with other level elements to craft some devious and genuinely taxing levels. Even with four players looking out for each other, it's rare to pass a level with all your lives intact, although as long as at least one player survives the level continues: if all players are dead simultaneously, the level's over.


There's been a lot of discussion about the game's Super Guide mode helping players to overcome difficult areas, but sadly we weren't given a demonstration of its abilities. One thing we can say is that judging from the difficulty of some of the later levels even the hardcore Mario fans here at Nintendo Life may have to resort to a little Super Guiding. A classic 2D Mario platformer that'll test your gaming skills? Yes please.

Highlights are around every corner: riding Yoshi around and eating apples feels as good as it did in 1990, a dark cave level lets you shine a searchlight by tilting the Wii Remote and using the new Propeller Suit to drill down onto enemies - or friends - is as satisfying as it gets.

Nintendo had to prise the controllers from our fingers to stop us completing the game there and then, but it won't be long until we can all enjoy New Super Mario Bros. Wii together, with its release now just a few weeks away. You will not want to miss this one.