New Super Mario Bros. Review
|# of Players||1-4|
|# of Levels||80|
|Controllable Characters||Mario, Luigi|
Mini-games: Mario, Luigi, Wario, Yoshi
|Story||Mario and Peach are out for a walk, when they notice that Peach's Castle is on fire. Mario rushes off to investigate, and Peach is snatched by Bowser Jr. as soon as he does so.|
|Graphics||9.5||Characters are all in full 3-D without looking too polygonal. The background is 2-D, creating a 2.5-D environment. This allows Mario to pull off countless stunts and enemies to grow to ginormous sizes.|
|Sound||9||Classic Mario tunes are there, with the addition of new quality tracks. Itís not quite the stuff thatíll repeat over and over again in your head, but itís catchy all the same. Sound is vibrant, and voices arenít annoying at all.|
|Depth||9||Players have the choice of plowing through the game in just an hour or two, or getting every Star Coin and unlocking every exit for additional dozens of hours of gameplay.|
|Gameplay||10||All that classic Mario goodness is backófrom stomping Goombas and Koopas to reaching the flagpole at the end. Still, Nintendo manages to keep it a fresh experience with plenty of new power-ups and moves.|
|Replay Value||9||It depends on how thorough you were when you went through the game the first time. If you got all the Star Coins and exits, then all thatís left is the mini-game rehashes from Super Mario 64 DS. If not, then youíll be going back. And honestly, even if you got all the stuff through the first time, itís still fun to go back and do it all again.|
Way, WAY back in 1985, Nintendo had recently released the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), an experiment in video games and their first home console. Previously, all their success had come from arcades. Now, they were pioneering the concept of allowing customers to play their games, all in the comfort of their own homes. But something was wrong. The console had all the processing power, but nothing worth processing. There were no good games.
Nintendo needed an ace in the hole. They needed a game to base something off of it. What better than their biggest arcade hit, Donkey Kong? The main character of that game was Mario, and they were going to reuse that character for their newest title. That title was Super Mario Bros., a sidescrolling platformer starring Mario and his brother Luigi, fighting their ways through huge, colorful worlds to save the princess. The game pulled video games out of the historical slump and was responsible for the success of the NES.
Countless people have copied the formula pioneered in Super Mario Bros. The game itself has had many hugely successful sequels, including Super Mario Bros. 2, SMB3, and Super Mario World. And then Nintendo came out with the Nintendo 64, the first three-dimensional system, with one of the launch titles being Super Mario 64, the first 3-D Mario game. A new Super Mario sidescroller wasnít released again, much to the outrage of fans of the classic style of gameplay. And then, New Super Mario Bros. was released, for the Nintendo Dual Screen.
The top screen displays all action, while the lower screen displays useful information and the reserve item, which can be tapped into with the stylus to give Mario the said item. When Mario moves to an underground area, the action goes to the lower screen. The touch screen can also be used to select a world while on the map screen. Other than that, the touch screen and microphone are only used for side mini-games. As with so many games here lately, the DSís features arenít used much, but at least the gameplay doesnít suffer.
The story is weak and laughable, but supposedly, the developers intended this so that the gameplay could be a deeper focus, just like classic Mario titles. Mario and Princess Peach are taking a walk, when they notice that the castle is on fire. Mario rushes to investigate, giving Bowserís son, Junior, ample time to abduct the princess. Mario must then race through the Mushroom Kingdom to stop Bowser and his son and rescue Peach.
Despite ĎBrothersí being in the gameís title, only Mario is playable in the main adventure mode. Actually, thatís only half-true--Luigi can be selected by holding the ĎLí and ĎRí buttons when you select a file to load. However, there is virtually no difference between the two characters aside from appearance.
All the Super Mario Bros. titles feature the same basic gameplay. You run from one side of a given level to another, traversing dangerous obstacles, such as bottomless pits and enemies. Most said enemies can be defeated by jumping on their noggins, but others require careful strategy.
There are eight worlds in Super Mario Bros., most featuring an average of ten levels. These levels are comprised of grassy hills, underground sewers, vast oceans, rolling deserts, haunted houses, icy tundra, and perilous skies. Each world also features at least one tower about halfway through the world. These towers are full of traps and all have a boss battle with Bowser Jr. at the top. The fights with Bowser Jr. are normally pretty easy and reminiscent of the boss battles in Super Mario Bros. 3, for those whoíve played it. Each world also features at least one castle. These levels are similar to the towers, but feature a slightly less linear boss battle at the end. Each level ends with a flagpole that the brothers must jump to the top of to earn extra lives. Regardless of where you land on the pole, it signifies the end of the level.
New Super Mario Bros., like its predecessors, also features power-ups. Power-ups are items spread throughout the levels that make Mario or Luigi, in some way, more powerful. The classic Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Starman power-ups return from previous titles. The Super Mushroom makes Mario larger and taller. It also gives him an extra hit before reverting to smaller Mario, who can only take a single hit before dying and losing a life. Fire Flowers allow Mario and Luigi to throw fireballs at their enemies. Finally, the Starman gives the Mario Bros. temporary invincibility.
NSMB also has several new power-ups. The first, the Mini Mushroom, shrinks the Mario Bros. to a fraction of their original size. This gives them increased jumping ability, what, with their lesser weight. They can also fit into smaller spaces they couldnít originally, and pull a Jesus by running across water. A Blue Shell allows Mario to duck into it for extra defense. If he runs really fast, he will begin spinning just like a Koopa, bowling over enemies. Additionally, it gives greater control while underwater. The last power-up, the Mega Mushroom, turns the brothers into invincible giants for a limited time. Destroying everything in your path will net you extra lives.
Despite the many power-ups the game includes, I was a bit disappointed with its lack of them. The new ones (Mini Mushroom, Mega Mushroom, and Blue Shell) are all hard to find. As a result, any time you need a power-up in a given level, you must travel all the way back to a given level where you THINK you may have found the item before, which is harder than it seems. Not only that, but you must actually finish the level with that power-up to take it to another level, instead of exiting the level directly via the pause screen!
Mario and Luigi are now given some moves they havenít always had. Back in the glory days, all they could do was run and jump. Now, they can double and triple jump too, just like in the 3-D games! Those moves arenít used much, however. They can also ground pound through blocks. The most interesting new move by far, however, is the wall kick, first featured in Super Mario 64. When the brothers jump onto a wall, theyíll begin sliding back down. As they slide, they can kick off the wall and into the air. This can be used to rebound between two walls, or, better yet, save yourself when youíre falling into a pit. A wonderful addition to the genre.
NSMBís difficulty level isnít very high at all. Itís made to where little kids can play through it with only a little challenge. In fact, itís possible to mow through the game in just a couple of hours, thanks to warp cannons. However, there is an optional challenge to other players. In each level is a Star Coin. Some are easy to get, while others take timing and skill. More advanced players will want to go for every Star Coin in the game--thatís 240 in all. In addition, many levels feature two possible exits.
The music and sound of NSMB is wonderful. The classic music and sound effects are back, and yet the music stays fresh by having completely new, and yes, catchy tunes to get stuck in your brain. Notably, enemies also move to the music. Depending on what tune is playing, common enemies like Goombas, Koopas, and Cheep Cheeps will spin, stall, or jump on certain notes. An odd feature, but innovative all the same. The characters do have voices, but there is no spoken dialogue, just woops and yelps.
New Super Mario Bros. features a unique graphics system, and one that works incredibly well. Mario and his friends and enemies are in full 3-D. This opens up a countless number of possibilities. The developers can now manipulate characters easily instead of having to draw 2-D sprites. Because of this, all characters can perform many movements and come in all sizes, from gargantuan to miniscule. To boot, the graphics are impressive too. However, the backgrounds ARE in 2-D, which means that 3-D characters are moving around on a 2-D field, effectively creating a 2.5-D environment. Think Yoshiís Story. And believe me, this graphics engine works incredibly well.
NSMB also features a robust multiplayer mode. Mario and Luigi compete against each other in five looping courses for Big Stars. Whoever collects all five wins. They can even damage each other to get back stars. The game also features most of the mini-games from Super Mario 64 DS, which can serve as fun little stylus-using diversions. Even more impressive is the fact that many of these mini-games, whereas they were only single-player in 64 DS, are now multiplayer. Best of all, both game types are available with just one game card.
One thing Iíve gotta point out is my disappointment at the lack of Wi-Fi functionality. This game came out well after the first wave of Wi-Fi games, and playing the multiplayer mode online just wouldíve made the experience more readily accessible overall, instead of having to get together with a friend with at least a DS in pocket.
But I digress. Overall, New Super Mario Bros. is a great achievement by Nintendo. They manage to take us back to those nostalgic times with Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World. At the same time, it introduces us to totally new gameplay using new power-ups and stunning 3-D graphics. The best sidescrolling Mario title? Itís likely.
New Super Mario Bros. is one of the best Nintendo titles in a while. Some people make the mistake of calling this game a remake. Let me assure you, itís anything BUT. If you loved the original Mario titles (SMB1-3, SMW), then you are absolutely missing out if you havenít played yet. Possibly the best Mario 2-D platformer.
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