Nobody was ready for what Nintendo unveiled at Electronic Entertainment Expo
2009. The marketers set the stage for the follow-up to the Nintendo DS monster
hit, New Super Mario Bros., called New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Quickly putting
any doubts to rest, this new game showed that it was anything but an ordinary
update or upgrade to its DS counterpart. In the ongoing quest to improve upon
the world’s flagship platform game, Shigeru Miyamoto along with his trusted team
brainstormed with thunder and lightning. On that early June afternoon, Nintendo
was preparing the world for platformer perfection.
Where to begin, where to begin? It’s Princess Peach’s birthday and they’re
having a party in the castle. The Mario Bros. and a couple of random Toads
gather around when a mysterious cake with even more mysterious decorations
nudges its way onto the happenin’ scene. Suddenly those weird decorations show
themselves to be the hairstyles of the Koopalings, Bowser’s nasty children! All
8 of them, the original 7 from back in the day along with the youngest Bowser Jr!
And so begins yet another royal kidnapping plot from this odd turtle bunch.
Mario, Luigi, and the 2 Mushroom Retainers rush after the villains as the Koopas
fly off in their trusty airship. The Toads left behind shoot off some unique
gifts into the royal cannon and the adventure begins!
In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, for the first time since the original Mario
Bros. from 1983 you can have simultaneous players on screen in a Mario
platformer. But it’s not just Mario and Luigi this go ‘round; you get to play up
to FOUR players at the same time (handled by the Toads)! You’ll find that this
new game reaches through every mainline Mario series game ever made…with
seamless results. There’re elements of play drawing from Donkey Kong through
Super Mario Bros. 2 through Super Mario World through Super Mario 64 and beyond.
Mario fans will pick up on all the references as they play through this
side-scrolling platform masterpiece.
Basic control is much like it was in New Super Mario Bros. for the DS. While
there is the option to play with Wiimote/Nunchuk combo, I suspect most will
choose the side-turned NES-style of the Wiimote. But while the 1 and 2 buttons
imitate the B and A buttons of old (run/fire and jump/swim), there will be some
Wiimote shaking going on. The shake operates the spin jump and also in
conjunction with the 1 button allows you to lift up items. You will also tilt
the Wiimote left or right when operating the adventure’s tilt lifts (Wiimote/Nunchuk
style solely uses the non-button-pressed Wiimote for these actions). The heroes
have multiple techniques to deal with the foes all familiar to the series like
the ground pound, slide, and wall jump to name a few.
Gameplay takes place over a map screen like in the DS version. Toad’s Houses
(which hold useful power-ups), fortresses, and castles litter the landscape
along with the courses you play through. In World 1, Peach’s Castle rests at the
beginning of the map and you can go in to purchase various videos to get ideas
on how to improve on your game (provided you have enough Star Coins). Each stage
is full of secrets, strange environments and oddball enemies that you must
encounter on your way to the famous end-stage flagpole. You will be assisted by
your usual Super Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, and Starmen but you also have help
from the returning Mini Mushrooms that shrink you, Propeller Mushrooms that put
you in a flying suit, Ice Flowers that let you throw freezing ice balls, and the
Penguin Suit that turn you into a penguin who can slide on its belly and throw
ice balls too (the giant-forming Mega Mushroom from the DS does not return
here). Many areas on the maps give you the ability to store reserves of these
items to start a stage powered up. You’re gonna need it for some of these tough
stages, trust me! Yoshi also pops up from time to time with his frog-tongued,
heavy footed assistance.
There’s a lot to deal with in the one-player game as you can see but it
becomes a WHOLE NEW GAME once you add more people to the party. Multiplayer
changes the entire strategy of how you complete the levels to say the least.
Just like in the original Mario Bros., you can either assist each other
cooperatively to finish the stages or sabotage each other competitively to edge
out your partner. Mario is always the 1st player, Luigi is always the 2nd
player, Blue Toad is always 3rd, and Yellow Toad is always 4th (it’s very nice
how any player can enter or exit an existing game at will). You can lift and
throw each other, jump off each others heads to get higher altitude, and even do
devastating team ground pounds that shake all enemies off the ground like a POW
When you mess up and lose a life, you come back in a floating bubble that you
must Wiimote shake out of to rejoin the action. However, you can always return
to this circular womb at anytime by pressing the A button. In cooperative play
for instance, this allows less skilled players not to get left behind by the
more skilled ones. Sometimes you will swear someone’s blowing bubble wands off
screen because there will be mucho much mayhem causing players to make countless
mistakes and miscues. You WILL be cussing out your buddies, let’s make that
clear right now. Say for instance like when a power-up block is punched (which
releases various power-ups for each player) and your partners greedily snatch up
the Fire Flower near you before you even GET THE CHANCE! Yeah, stuff like that.
There’s a good reason why Nintendo opted out of using online and Wii Speak for this
title...at least until bleep technology is perfected.
One of the most noteworthy features of this game is the Super Guide. In the
never-ending mission to get players of all skill levels playing happily
together, Shigeru came up with this version of videogaming autopilot that
helps you get past an ornery patience-trying level. It’s not a gimme, though. You
have to earn the right to be escorted through a stage by dying enough times in a
row before this doorbell-ringing green block appears to activate the mode. Yes,
green as in the immortal man in green Luigi. He will be the one to do the hard
work for you…even though he won’t find you all the secrets and special zones.
But at any time if you feel renewed confidence in your abilities, you can press
the (+) button and take over control of Luigi to finish the stage yourself. None
of the coins or points Super Guide Luigi picks up will be counted after the mode
According to Mr. Miyamoto himself, there might be a special reward
in store for those who never use the Super Guide (good luck!). But at least
those who would most definitely quit the game in frustration will have the
ability to get to the ending and enjoy the game.
Also, there are separate competitively-focused multiplayer modes called
Free-For-All and Coin Battle. Free-For-All lets you play any stage of the game
(once you beat the Koopaling boss from that world’s castle in the main mode)
with friends to be ranked at end of game for score, coins, and beaten enemies.
Coin Battle is all-a about-a da coins and the players get ranked at the end of
stage from richest to poorest (you also have to beat the Koopaling boss from
that world’s castle in the main mode to play the stages). Unlike main mode if
all players die at the same time or all run out of lives, the stage ends
bringing up the ranking screen immediately. These modes may be more maniacal
than the main one since it’s all cutthroat with possible temporary allegiances
forged out of circumstance. Yep, that means mo’ cussin’. Records of victory are
kept until you go back to the title screen or you turn your Wii off. You just
know there’ll be sore losers “accidentally” hitting the Home button to Wii Menu
when things don’t go their way.
No doubt about it. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the new platform standard. Every
main Mario game rolled up into one feeling both familiar and fresh at the same
time. And, of course, EXCITING! Nintendo has made ‘multiplayer Mario platformer’
work and you’ll wonder why they never did it sooner. Just challenging enough and
just accessible enough to play for veterans and novices alike. It truly is as
special as the unique red case it’s packaged in. There’s a reason why Mario
continues to be the best-selling franchise in videogaming history and this game examples it in
perfect fashion. Some may complain about lack of online play, but I personally
don’t feel it detracts from the experience. Nintendo has just created another
blockbuster evergreen-selling title for the Wii. I only wish I could give it
something higher than Editor’s Choice, to be honest.