Super Mario Galaxy 2 is just over a week away! Time for RE: to come to the RE:scue! On today's installment of RE:, we'll be taking a look at the portly plumber's most recent console outing, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Does it still shape up as well as I remember?
Back before the game was released, there hadn't been a 2-D console Mario game in about thirteen years. That's a long wait for sure! But be assured, that-that wait was definitely worth it. 2-D Mario fans got a taste of old school meets new school with New Super Mario Bros. on the DS, but a console entry is what fans have been clamoring for over a decade. Now that it's here, how is it? Well, judging by SPC's Game of the Year award for 2009, it shaped up pretty well. Do I regret giving the game the highest honor I can give? Not on your ninety-nine lives, buddy!
Mario games aren't known for their incredibly deep or profound stories, and that tradition continues with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Mario, Luigi, and a pair of special Toads are invited over to Princess Peach Toadstool's castle for none other than cake. However, the cake holds a sinister surprise as the long-missing Koopalings alongside Bowser Jr. leap out of the cake, grab Princess Peach, and hightail it to parts unknown. Mario and company quickly follow pursuit while a Toad inserts a bunch of items into a cannon, blasting them all over the Mushroom Kingdom.
There are eight main worlds in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Each world houses a tower and castle. The tower is a vertical level concluding with a Koopaling battle whereas the castles are horizontal and end with a variant of the tower's Koopaling confrontation. Say, the floor moves up and down, the battle intermittently takes place underwater, or the battle takes place on three small platforms with a bottomless pit below. Each world has a different theme from grasslands to deserts to tropical islands to Bowser's badlands. Throw in special levels like ghost houses, and you have one varied game. The map for each world plays similarly to Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3 with players moving along paths to each level. Some levels house secret exits opening doors to new levels, shortcuts, and warp cannons to new worlds.
The levels themselves constantly throw in new challenges to overcome and secrets to uncover. One level has you bouncing off the backs of giant Wigglers or else meet a deathly fate while another has Mario and the gang riding floating turtle shells over a bottomless pit. The smallest of mistakes spell doom for Mario, Luigi, and the two Toads. In each level there are three expertly-hidden or out-of-reach star coins. These are tough to collect as well as finish the level with, and collecting all of them opens up World 9, a collection of supremely challenging levels that will put your gaming prowess to the ultimate test. That's notwithstanding the already difficult game New Super Mario Bros. Wii has in store for players.
Additionally, New Super Mario Bros. Wii introduces new power-ups, too. My favorite is the propeller suit which when the Wii remote is shaken, causes your character to fly up into the air before slowly hovering back down to the ground. There's also the impressive penguin suit which allows Mario and company to shoot iceballs (similar to another power-up, the ice flower) as well as slide on their bellies on frozen ground. Meanwhile, returning favorites such as the severely underused Mini Mario power-up and fire flower round out the collection of power-ups.
My favorite component of New Super Mario Bros. Wii is that of the multiplayer variety, particularly with two players helping each other out. Four players is absolute hilarious chaos with players leaping off one another's heads, causing each other to lose lives, and getting in each other's way on purpose. Of course, it can work well with a competent team of players as not only were the levels designed with single-player in mind, but they were also crafted with multiplayer in mind, too. Playing with two talented players is really something special. It makes reaching out of the way star coins all the more easier, it gives both players a safety net in knowing that if they die, the other player can still save them from their bubble prison, and it's just an interesting take on the 2-D Mario formula. I remember shouting "bubble up" in order for my brother not to lose a life when missing a particularly difficult jump. Bubbling up is done to rescue yourself from a hazard or loss of life for most players, but it's real use was to allow beginner players to play along without getting in the way. If all players bubble up, then it's back to the beginning of the level or at the level's checkpoint.
The presentation of New Super Mario Bros. Wii is basic at worst, impressive at best. Sure, it would have been nice to see Super Mario Galaxy-quality visuals and sound, but what we have here is pleasant to look at all the same. It has its own unique style which can be appreciated by most gamers. The soundtrack itself is quite good with several memorable melodies and toe-tapping tunes. It may not be everyone's cup of Mushroom tea, but it's good enough for me.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii may just beat out Super Mario World as my favorite 2-D Mario-- as blasphemous as that might sound. The longevity is there, the multiplayer is boss, and the nods to classic Mario titles are present and accounted for. Playing with friends and family is some of the best times I've had with a Mario game. While not better than Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros. Wii stands as SuperPhillip Central's 2009 Game of the Year, beating out God of War Collection, Uncharted 2, and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.
What games would you like to see given the RE: treatment? Let me know in the SuperPhillip Central comments section.