Something old, something new

New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Woohoo! A new 2D Mario game!

It took me a couple of months, but I finally finished New Super Mario Bros: Wii (all coins on all levels) and had a fantastic time to boot. That’s no mean feat, since I’ve been playing Mario games since the first Super Mario Bros on the NES. The fact that Nintendo has been able to keep this franchise alive, fresh and relevant for 25 years is an amazing achievement that could be too easily overlooked.

While technically an expanded version of the original New Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo DS, NSMBW features new power-ups such as the propeller and penguin suits, and a vastly improved game mechanic, including the ability to save at any time, rather than only when you complete a castle or spend coins, and the removal of the branching world system so that you don’t miss out on significant chunks of the game because you don’t have the skill to complete the level as tiny Mario or something.

The control system is fairly basic: you hold the Wii Remote sideways and use the d-pad and the 1 and 2 buttons to grab/run and jump. Shaking the controller while Mario is in mid-air will make him do a little spin that causes him to hover in the air just a teeny-weeny fraction longer – it’s hard to underestimate how important this little move is! Occasionally, the tilt function will also be called upon to affect certain parts of the environment, such as the angle or direction of a platform.

Each of the 8 main worlds (and 1 secret world) is based around usual themes like fire, ice, sky, jungle, etc. As an old-school fan, I took great delight in seeing levels pay homage to previous Mario games, from the flying airship levels to the little yapping piranha plants, it’s like getting towards retirement age and discovering that your wonderful wife has suddenly turned into a sexy teenage version of herself, and everything that you love about her has become new and exciting all over again (sorry if that analogy sounds a bit creepy!)

Many little touches like those above show Nintendo’s minute attention to detail – they’re not just cranking these out to cash in on the character’s popularity and have really set out to create new and fun experiences. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is another feather in the cap for Nintendo, except that the cap is looking a lot like a full-blown American Indian headdress!

I gotta say though, World 9-7 is the work of the devil.

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