With New Super Mario Bros on the DS, Nintendo brought back the cIassic 2D platforming of the 8 and 16-bit eras. 2D Mario got a face lift into 3D and gained new abilities from the 3D games like ground pounding and wall jumping. While the game wasn't perfect, it did spark the old school gamer in us; we craved for more and our hopes were answered by Nintendo's announcement of NSMB Wii. NSMBW brings the experience of NSMB to the console to make a decent Mario game, but it fails to learn from some of the mistakes of NSMB and doesn't bring any innovation to the 2D Mario platform.
NSBMW is as cIassic Mario as you can get, you know the story: The princess gets kidnapped; you, apparently the only person who cares, have to navigate the worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom; beat some baddies along the way; and rescue the princess. Everything you'd expect from a 2D Mario game is here: running, jumping, goombas, koopas, different themed worlds, you name it. NSMBW is exactly what you expect from a 2D Mario game.
You control Mario by holding the Wiimtoe sideways like a NES controller. As you might guess, 1 is to run, 2 is to jump, and of course you move with the d-pad; it's like you're playing with a NES controller again! The core mechanics of the game work airtight, the Mario formula is true and tested. There are some control issues though, namely the times you have to use the motion sensing. In the game you have can pick up things, you do so by holding 1 and shaking the Wiimote. At first this didn't feel very intuitive, it felt clunky even, but after a while you get used to the control and it becomes second nature. The game also makes use of the motion sensing capabilities of the Wiimote by controlling certain platforms. In some levels there are platforms the move left or right when you tilt the Wiimote, or the platforms tilt how you are tilting the Wiimote. I found this control to be a bit clunky and I could never get fully use to it; it isn't a game changer though and the mechanic is used sparingly. And disappointingly you can't play with a cIassic controller, this is an unfortunate oversight.
Each Mario game has the same core mechanics, what separates the games are the levels. Every Mario game has it's own take on level design that makes it truly unique. Unfortunately NSMBW lacks some of the uniqueness, it feels and plays very similar to NSMB. The game feels like NSMB 2.0, there isn't anything truly special about the game. How you might expect them to be the same, they do have almost the same name; but the first three Super Mario Bros games only had a different number after them and were all unique. All Mario games are the same but they each have their own subtle variants on the core mechanics and level design that make each a worthwhile game. While NSMBW isn't an exact copy of the mechanics in NSMB, they are strikingly similar and you leave NSMBW with a sense of been there, done that.
Not only does NSMBW take the gameplay of NSMB, it also takes NSMB's Achilles' heel: its difficulty, or should I say its lack of difficulty. Any seasoned Mario gamer will find this game it be very easy, even the later levels are a walk in the park. Lately Nintendo has dumbed down the Mario games to apply to more casual gamers, this is very evident in NSMB and Super Mario Galaxy. While NSMBW is an improvement in the right direction, it still fails in comparison to the games of old. Luckily Nintendo did add some difficulty to NSMBW. Each level has three star coins you can collect, getting them isn't allows easy. If you get all the star coins in a world, you unlock a special level that is harder then the rest of the game. The star coin challenge adds some longevity to the game and offers some challenge from time to time but even with that the game is far too easy. And it doesn't help that both new items, the Propeller and the Penguin suit, seem to only exist to make the game easier. The Propeller suit makes platforming trivial, you just shake the Wiimote you fly up aways then gently float down to the next platform; at least with the Cape in Super Mario World and the Raccoon Tail in Super Mario Bros 3 you had to have a running start to fly anywhere. And the Penguin suit makes it so you don't slip on ice anymore, what is the point of ice levels if you don't slip on them?
Even though NSMBW isn't very hard and plays similar to NSMB, that isn't to say the game isn't fun. I enjoyed NSMB regardless of it's lack of difficulty, I also enjoyed NSMBW even though it doesn't offer anything truly new. Mario games have always been the pinnacle of platforming games, and NSMBW doesn't stride away from that; it's still a good Mario game. NMSBW has all the fun and addictiveness that you get from any Mario game; the problem is, it isn't a superb Mario game. It just misses the mark by being too easy and not bringing anything new and wonderful to the table.
Let's go onto the graphics of the game. NSMBW has the same styIe of NSMB, it has a very streamlined appearance to it. There isn't anything truly spectacular about the visuals. It doesn't push the graphics of the Wii, it just sits comfortably where it is. There isn't anything wrong with the graphics, it has the Mario feel it needs; but it almost just feels boring. After the visual power house that was Super Mario Galaxy, NSMBW feels flat and conservative in comparison. It would have been nice if they had added a few new visual styIes instead of copying NSMB and updating it for the Wii.
Sound is in a similar place as the graphics. The music and sound effects are a mixture of sounds from cIassic Mario games. This isn't bad, but again compared to SMG, it loses it's effect. When NSMB come around it had the same cIassic music score and it worked great because the game was a throw back to the old games. With a Mario console game though, I expect a bit more; especially with the precedent set by SMG.
Up until this point I have talked only of the single player experience of the game. As the cover of the game prominently displays, there is a new multiplayer option. Now you and three other people can play through a level together, at the same time. Multiplayer can be fun and chaotic but I would hardly call it a defining feature of the game. It's more of an extra bonus thrown in, the real game is still the single player experience. One thing I really hate about the new multiplayer is that you can't play with the cIassic multiplayer styIe, each person taking turns. Come on Nintendo, I know you have a new multiplayer styIe that doesn't mean you have to take away the old styIe
Overall NSMBW isn't a bad platformer, it isn't a bad Mario game; but it's not a spectacular one. The game is fairly easy and doesn't add much to the Mario universe, it's really more of the same. If you want a good 2D Mario game, or just a good 2D platformer, this game is for you. If on the other hand you are expecting the game to bring back the glory of 2D Mario console games of old, you will be disappointed. And if you are expecting the new multiplayer to revolutionize the Mario experience, think again. It's fun but it doesn't add much to the game and isn't the main attraction.