Surprisingly close to the series roots, but perhaps not close enough.

If you have no respect for Super Mario Bros, then I probably have no respect for you. The game that brought back gaming, the game that started many classic 2-D platformers, and showed that Nintendo meant business. New Super Mario Bros stays surprisingly close to these roots, just adding a few new things for better or worse.

The story of gameplay is the same. Get from one end to the next, trying to jump across pits, avoid enemies, and do so in a limited number of tries (“lives”). It’s an extremely old, but good, formula. And Nintendo even left the challenge that this fun formula created intact. NOT!

Sorry to have to say this, but NSMB is WAAAAY too easy, and it hurts this game most than other easy games (such as TLoZ:Wind Waker). The levels are actually really well created, but lives are TOO easy to obtain, making each level more of a “try until you get it right” type of challenge. Half the time you can also return to the map and visit a mini-game house to get the item you need. And only because the levels are still fun is this game worth playing.

And it’s not like many other easy games that tend to try and give you a long game with lots of extras. Nope, NSMB gives you 8 worlds filled with a few short levels each. If you enjoy the game (and I know you will unless you hate 2-D platformers….or fun), then you will blow through this easy…possibly in a single afternoon (and because of the fact that lives are earned so easily, the game over screen is practically non-existant, and takes the fun out of trying for high scores).

And the extras, ha, nothing special. You have 3 coins to collect per level (for spending on things probably not worth buying), and a few neatly hidden exits in levels. The coins will take almost no time, but the extra exits, and few hidden levels boost the length score up a point.

After the main game (and why you should buy the game), there are mini-games and a neat multiplayer mode left over. The mini-games are a little fun, but so similar to (or often the exact same as) the mini-games in SM64DS, and won’t hold your attention too long.

The multiplayer is also a short-lived diversion, but DEFINITELY worth checking out if you have a DS-owning friend. It plays like the 2-D platformer, just in a repeating course, where you and a friend fight to be the first to collect x stars, which you can steal from each other and run around to collect. It is a truly fun mode (with just the right # of players), but it lacks lasting value simply because it lacks modes and maps. 1 mode, 5 maps, and maybe only an afternoon before you tire of it. Still worth checking out though.

Aside from the poor length, everything in the game is great. The graphics, are amazing. The 3-D on 2-D effect works brilliantly here, and, despite being on the DS, the 3-D objects don’t seem that rough. There is no slowdown, the world is full of style, and all I can complain about is how Mario is slightly blocky up-close (and that’s pushing it). And considering how well the graphics factor in to making the old gameplay a little fresher, I couldn’t resist a perfect score.

And the music is nice. It’s catchy, which works well for the game, but it doesn’t live up to the series’ name. Every 2-D Mario game before had some truly cool tunes, but NSMB is unspectacular. It is good though, just not classic, and for some reason the Bowser’s Castle music just feels out of place (kind of like a Halloween world tune).

You should play New Super Mario Bros. Despite its short length, it plays close enough to the old games to be worth a check out. And it’s proof that easy games can still be pretty fun (as long as they have SOME challenge). Now, I just hope Nintendo tries to make more 2-D platformers, just that they have the guts to make them actually challenging and long.