Despite the name, New Super Mario Bros. Wii bares more similarity to previous titles than any other recent Mario game. Not only is it an overflowing nostalgia injection, but an awesome 2D platformer that anybody can get in to.
The word "New" in the name only separates this game's name and release date from other 2D Mario titles but not the gameplay. The player controls the game with the Wii remote held sideways, however the game offers for nunchuk use if you prefer the analog stick. The tested Mario controls are tight and the triple jump, wall jump and ground pound all make returns as well as new and old power ups. A quick shake of the Wii remote performs a spin jump attack, but you'll almost never need to use it. What you'll shake the Wii remote most for is to pick up items and incapacitated enemies, which functions well enough. The motion controls add a fun new layer to the traditional platforming element. Changing the angle of a platform while moving on it or positioning a spotlight on a moving raft is very intuitive.
This Mario adventure features eight worlds each with up to ten levels. You'll see the lava, underwater, snow, ghost houses and more commonplace locales from the Mario series. The visuals are appropriately simple and runs in smooth 60FPS. All the characters have solid animations but the moving environment is even better. Even seeing coins and boxes moving at angles other than 90 degrees is quite odd looking but a welcome little addition. On a standard definition TV the display is letterboxed though still playable, but is best experienced on a HDTV. In addition to the familiar visuals, all the games music and sound effects are what you would expect from a Mario game. It consists mainly of new versions of classic Mario tunes. Every song in the game sounds great, but it could've used some more tracks.
Failing a level eight times will spawn a "Super Guide" box. This fires up the level with Luigi playing with the ability to take over at any time. The CPU will finish the course but doesn't collect any star coins or other secrets. At the end of the level you're offered a choice to try the level again with your newfound "knowledge" or to skip the level entirely, so essentially the game can play for you. If the player is just stuck at a certain area or doesn't know the best approach to an obstacle this feature helps to ease the pain.
The game's checkpoint system is outdated by today's standards. Regular courses only have a halfway checkpoint, so if you're dying during bosses or at one obstacle right at the end of the level it will get to you. Not only that, but the game doesn't feature a particularly great saving system either. You can only really save after completing a castle. You have the option to do a "Quick Save" from the hub world but as soon as you resume your save it is deleted. If you happen to die or exit the game the only save you'll have is your old after-castle save.
Up to four players can drop in and out at any time as Luigi or one of two Toads, but only locally as the game lacks any online connectivity. Being able to jump on each other's heads, lift and throw each other and fight over small platforms large enough for only one player should normally be seen as a negative, but one cannot deny the amount of fun to be had from what is technically a flaw. While many more mistakes get made it's actually easier to complete courses. If a player dies they return to gameplay as long as at least one player is still in the game. When a player gets hurt or picks up an item the game pauses for a short moment which can ruin your timing, but after a short amount of play time it shouldn't be an issue. Free Mode gives the ability to play any course with friends without affecting your save game, and Coin Mode features exclusive levels to battle it out for the most collected coins by a courses end.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii should take ten to fifteen hours to complete. Finding star coins and secret goals will extend your playtime among other things at the end of the game. Spend your star coins at Princess Peach's castle to unlock "Hint Movies". These movies can reveal the locations of star coins, secret goals and show off impressive "runs" of courses. It essentially features it's own game guide. The Super Skills videos can be inspiring to players wanting to improve, otherwise they're just really cool to watch.
Playing the game with friends feels like a new experience. Multiplayer works just right, but for all the wrong reasons. Apart from multiplayer, New Super Mario Bros. Wii plays it safe and it's paid off. Having gameplay of the past use the technology of the Wii was a wise design decision, and now everyone can benefit.