“Bigger” does not always equal “better.” Seemingly every video game that comes out promises to be bigger than the last, and many forget to fix the problems that plagued the series before. The recent entries in the Assassin’s Creed and Modern Warfare series are perfect examples of this. If video game developers were to think of how to improve their games rather than pump out the same boring titles with minimal upgrades (I’m looking at you Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero), the next wave of games would be astonishing. The “better rather than bigger” approach is exactly what Nintendo took with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which is why it is the best Wii game this year, if not the best Wii game ever.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a simple platforming title in the vein of the original Super Mario Bros., but it feels like a mix between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. The object, of course, is to rescue Princess Peach, who is captured once again. There are eight worlds to explore within the main game, each containing eight levels. The different worlds each have different themes, such as an ice-themed world, a water-themed world, etc. The worlds get progressively harder, each containing new obstacles and enemies for Mario to jump on and defeat. The game is very beautifully detailed, with fully realized 3D characters and backgrounds done in the Mario style that is universally loved.
With the Wii, Nintendo aimed at making video games easily accessible to everyone, no matter what their age or experience. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the first game to come out to actually focus on that idea. The game play is simple enough for anyone to pick up a controller or join in, but there are moments in the game that are so frustrating that even the most seasoned gamers will find themselves pulling their hair out. To battle the frustration, Nintendo has come up with a feature called “Super Guide” which walks the player through any given difficult level. This “Super Guide” feature is optional, so hardcore gamers aren’t forced to use it, but it’s a very nice touch for inexperienced and young gamers who just want to breeze through the game.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii really shines through its multiplayer mode. Up to four players can play at once, and each player can either be helpful or detrimental to the others. It is in this mode that the game becomes hectic and often hilarious, with characters jumping off the heads of others, characters picking up others and throwing them down pits, or characters fighting over power-ups. The game becomes much harder when the player is forced to deal with not only the enemies on screen, but also the other players, who are usually much more dangerous than the enemies. Included in the multiplayer portion of the game is an option for each character to go into a bubble that protects that character from danger. If Luigi is about to fall down a pit to his doom, the player could press the A button and put Luigi in a bubble, which would save him from dying. The downside to being in the bubble is that the character remains in the bubble until another character pops it. Being in the bubble can allow novice players to refrain from dying during tough portions of the game, but it will also keep them from collecting extra lives and power-ups while the non-bubbled players actually complete the level.
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect game, and even New Super Mario Bros. Wii has its faults. It’s pretty ridiculous that out of the lineup of great characters in the Mario franchise, two of the four playable characters in multiplayer mode are the exact same but with different color schemes. It’s also a shame that the multiplayer mode is local only, as Nintendo opted to not include online play in the game. But with that being said, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is still an absolutely fantastic game, and one that should be in any Wii owner’s collection. It plays great, looks beautiful, and is what every video game should be: fun.
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