Posted by Pepsiman (2766 posts) -


Nearly 13 years ago, God Hand and Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic enthusiast Eric Wolpaw devised the world's first completely objective review system for video games on Old Man Murray. Dubbed the "Crate Review System," this review methodology hinged upon the idea that a game's quality can be scientifically inferred based on how much time it takes a player to encounter a crate or an otherwise similarly ubiquitous container, officially recorded under the variable of StC, or "Start to Crate." The basic logic behind the idea is that since crates tend to be the one thing that most video games depict at some point during gameplay regardless of genre, it is possible to then empirically judge the merits of any game based on that universal constant. Therefore, the shorter a game's StC time, the worse it is in purely objective terms.

Knowing that, then, I feel that the basic principles of the Crate Review System can be implied on a more granular level to individual series, as they often have defining tropes that prove to be highly recurring throughout their various installments. In the case of New Super Mario Bros. games, this constant comes in the form of the series' music designs, which has songs that repeatedly rely on vocals that simply go "wah-wah." So pervasive is the wah-wah in the New Super Mario Bros. line that its existence almost inevitably dominates any legitimate attempt at discussing the games, making it a most suitable candidate for judging the quality of those games specifically without any other external biases. Although many other aspects of the series, most notably its artistic direction, tend to change very little between installments, wah-wahs win simply by being as pervasive in New Super Mario Bros. games as crates are within the video game medium in general. This isn't to say that that New Super Mario Bros. games lack crates, quite the opposite, in fact, but that wah-wahs verifiably appear more often than crates and as such better serve to be used as a measurement.

The basic principle of reviewing New Super Mario Bros. based on Start to Wah-Wah (StWW) time is mostly the same as the StC system. Using various walkthrough videos posted on YouTube as my sources, StWW will be determined by how long it takes for the first wah-wah to be uttered in World 1-1 of each game, with the time starting as soon as the level has loaded (ie: as soon as the Mario silhouette or another type of wipe begins to appear on the screen). Although wah-wahs likely appear earlier in each game thanks to menu music, I feel that evaluating StWW time in a gameplay context is the fairest methodology, as this is by far the setting in which any player will receive the most exposure to wah-wah in any New Super Mario Bros. game. As such, like in the original Crate Review System, a higher StWW time indicates an objectively superior game, while a lower one means that the New Super Mario Bros. game in question is demonstrably worse in quality.

Each game will be listed in order of their original release date, starting with the earliest game. At the end of this post, a separate section will be dedicated to ranking the games based on StWW time, which will then be accompanied by concluding remarks. Even if you're personally of the opinion that New Super Mario Bros. games are good and fun in their own right, in the event that you have trouble discerning the innate quality levels of individual installments, hopefully this system will finally provide you a solid basis upon which you can make your verdicts. For everyone else, hopefully this will enable you to have a more thoughtful discussion on the nature and purpose of wah-wahs in New Super Mario Bros. games thanks to the information I have provided here.

The Breakdown

New Super Mario Bros.

StWW: 3.510 seconds


Notes: At least there's a slight build up towards the wah-wah before it first makes itself known.


Pepsiman: As the first game in the series, this is what we in the science business would call the "control." Additional measurements with other games will need to be conducted to determine if this time reflects the series' average.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

StWW: 2.085 seconds (First wah); 6.122 seconds (First full wah-wah)


Notes: Either an approximately 74 percent improvement over the first game or a roughly 59 percent decline in quality.


Pepsiman: The doubled player count over the original New Super Mario Bros. coincides with a doubling of time measurements. Since the system hinges on the Start to Wah-Wah, after all, the latter time is ultimately more important, but the first time is still worth noting since it shows some artistic experimentation on Nintendo's part with how wahs should be incorporated into the series' music.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

StWW: 2.259 seconds (First wah); 6.296 seconds (First full wah-wah)


Notes: A marked improvement on virtually all fronts, be it the first wah or first full wah-wah.


Pepsiman: Nintendo continues to innovate in the use of its wahs. Not only does this game's World 1-1 start with another half wah, but an entire series of them before finally relenting and playing the first real wah-wah.

New Super Mario Bros. U

StWW: 3.687 seconds (First wah); 12.029 seconds (First full wah-wah)


Notes: Once again a marked increase on both measurable fronts.


Pepsiman: The fact that it takes over 12 seconds for Nintendo to introduce the first wah-wah in the game's first level indicates a sense of creative restraint. On the one hand, the development team wants to evoke a sense of nostalgia in the player as they recall previous experiences with both the original NES Mario games, as well as the older entries in the New Super Mario Bros. series. On the other hand, using it too quickly in the song would make it look as though Nintendo has run out of ways to freshen up the games. This game clearly takes the middle road.

The Rankings

At the beginning of this objective review of the New Super Mario Bros. series, it was believed that the musical stylings found throughout the games were consistent enough to warrant just one universal time record. However, ever since the Wii version, Nintendo has clearly seen fit to commence every World 1-1 song with just a single wah before eventually proceeding to the true wah-wah that has become so representative of all New Super Mario Bros. games. This makes the process of ranking the games a conundrum, since the single wah appears often enough throughout the series that outright ignoring its times would paint an overly simplistic picture of this review system's findings. As such, two sets rankings will be provided below, one based on times for the single wah and another one for the complete wah-wah that originally inspired the conception of this system. Each of these will be ordered with the best game at the top of the list and the worst game at the bottom. Because the original New Super Mario Bros. for the DS does not have an official single wah time, its time for the full wah will still be used in consideration for its single wah time ranking, as every full wah-wah naturally starts with a half wah. There's simply no avoiding it.

Single Wah Ranking

1. New Super Mario Bros. U: 3.687 seconds

2. New Super Mario Bros.: 3.510 seconds

3. New Super Mario Bros. 2: 2.259 seconds

4. New Super Mario Bros. Wii: 2.085 seconds

Full Wah-Wah Ranking

1. New Super Mario Bros. U: 12.029 seconds

2. New Super Mario Bros. 2: 6.296 seconds

3. New Super Mario Bros. Wii: 6.122 seconds

4. New Super Mario Bros.: 3.510 seconds


The fact that each set of rankings changes dramatically depending on the wah categorization criterion indicate that the New Super Mario Bros. series are games that remain very much so in qualitative flux. As the StWW times indicates, New Super Mario Bros. games have generally become worse games over time in terms of the appearance of single wahs. Save for New Super Mario Bros. U, which has the highest single wah time out of all of them, the series has been visibly regressing since the original edition came out on the DS in 2006. However, the opposite can be said for the games if one looks at them under the original pretense of the review system, that of the full wah-wah rankings. In that regard, Nintendo has clearly churned out increasingly superior games with every new entry without a dip insight. In fact, when doing the math, New Super Mario Bros. U, the latest one as of this writing, in line with it being the fourth game, is nearly four times better as a game than the first one, taking approximately 3.427 times more time to have its first wah-wah take place.

Due to this split, it can be easily predicted that two new schools of thought will emerge with regards to how each game is subjectively evaluated. One school will naturally prefer tradition, seeing the full wah-wah as being intrinsic to the musical integrity of the series and as such only taking its time into consideration when examining future games in the series. These people will scientifically be of the opinion that given the current data trends established, the New Super Mario Bros. games will only continue to get better as time goes on and Nintendo continues to develop more games that feature wah-wahs in their sound fonts. Another school of thought, though, will prefer to judge each game in the series moving forward on the basis of their single wah times. These people will understand that the series' quality is generally unstable on that front, producing occasional brilliance in a sea of rocky ups and downs. They, too, can turn to New Super Mario Bros. U as the game to be topped, but will nevertheless feel that inconsistent quality will continue to plague the series to come. Nevertheless, they might very well appreciate that aspect of the games, as it lends them a pleasant sense of unpredictability that isn't always found in other Nintendo franchises.

As I wrote previously, I hope the Wah-Wah review system brings new insight and new talking points into the ongoing debates about the legacy and overall quality of the New Super Mario Bros. games. Although they are each understandably very contentious games in their own right, hopefully this data will now enable everyone to be more articulate and rational in how they discuss the series. As the system has demonstrated, some games are clear winners while others could have used a lot more polish. Anybody who denies those numbers and claims that objectively inferior games are actually superior on more nebulous merits such as personal opinion and fun are merely denying the reality of things. They serve to distract people from the truth and as such deserve to be completely ignored, as numbers are the only sort of truth that can never betray humanity.


#1 Edited by Pepsiman (2766 posts) -

Oh god, this continues to be a mess when I try to post it in parts. Fixing up real fast like. I guess shift+enter doesn't play nicely here anymore for line breaks.

Edit: This has been fixed to the best of my ability. I'd love to not have a line break for the science stuff, but apparently having HTML code like linking and bolding makes this thing throw up, so I'm just leaving this as is, lest I risk it exploding any further. My apologies to my readers!

#2 Posted by Harpell (185 posts) -

This I'm just trying to decide which system I prefer. StWW or StW? Tradition or progress?

A great write-up. Make sure to PM this to Jeff so he can make this the official review scale going forward.

#3 Edited by StarvingGamer (9082 posts) -



#4 Posted by LordAndrew (14588 posts) -

Excellent use of science.

#5 Edited by MEATBALL (3957 posts) -

Well, NSMBU is far and away the best in the series, so the system works.

#6 Edited by Video_Game_King (36566 posts) -

Can we turn this into a "Start to Trope" thread? I remember you linking to an article about how long Zelda games make you wait before the first dungeon, so we could start with that: Start to Dungeon. Others include:

  • Fire Emblem: Start to Jeigan
  • Persona: Start to Awakening sequence (another "the shorter the better" situation)
  • Pokemon: Start to Normal rat thing.
  • Metroid: Start to losing all your powers.
#7 Edited by Nottle (1931 posts) -

Something weird about the start to crate thing is that it makes Deus Ex a bad game... I'm ok with that.

@video_game_king: I feel like time to Jeigan could have a followup statistic: Missions until Jeigen can't solo the map.

#8 Posted by Brodehouse (10518 posts) -


BioWare - Start To First Area Being Under Attack By Overwhelming Force

#9 Posted by Pr1mus (4102 posts) -

Uncharted: Time to thing collapsing while Drake is hanging from it.

#10 Posted by Video_Game_King (36566 posts) -

Metal Gear Solid: Start to actually playing it. Wait, I think Zero Punctuation made that same joke. Nevermind, you guys.

#11 Edited by Tylea002 (2382 posts) -

@brodehouse: Or, all RPGs ever. Hell, even most Assassin's Creed games have this.

Therefore, it is the best review system. I'm with you.

#12 Edited by Benny (2001 posts) -

This is partly the reason why I love Super Mario 3D land so much, not a Wah in earshot ever, that and it's one of the best combinations of new and old Mario stuff ever. Raccoon suit, airships, castles, hidden worlds, it's so fucking good.

#13 Edited by Chibithor (584 posts) -

If in the future a NSMB game with no wah is released, is it the theoretical perfection of the series or does it not qualify as a true NSMB game? Maybe it would be the worst one of them all? These are questions someone needs to answer

#14 Edited by Ravenlight (8057 posts) -

Bullet Hell games, masocore games, Eastern-European games: Start to "Fuck this!" Alternatively: Start to Quit.

#15 Posted by TooWalrus (13332 posts) -

Can we turn this into a "Start to Trope" thread? I remember you linking to an article about how long Zelda games make you wait before the first dungeon, so we could start with that: Start to Dungeon. Others include:

  • Fire Emblem: Start to Jeigan
  • Persona: Start to Awakening sequence (another "the shorter the better" situation)
  • Pokemon: Start to Normal rat thing.
  • Metroid: Start to losing all your powers.

Start to Pixie: Any SMT game ever.

#16 Posted by SamuraiGarrin (89 posts) -

Hmm, isn't there a first wah in the original DS game? I watched the linked video for it (and booted the game up on my DS to double-check), and I'm pretty sure there's a first wah before the first full wah-wah there.

#17 Edited by Video_Game_King (36566 posts) -

Two more:

  • This first one I posted in the Walking Dead Quick Look, but it's for a lot of bad games, regardless: Start to Mirror Punching. The closer, the worse.
  • Final Fantasy: Start to Introduction of Battle/Stat System (Gambit/License Board, Espers, Materia, etc.). The longer, the worse. If there are two distinct versions, go with the later introduction. Funnily enough, by this logic, VI is worse than VII.
#18 Posted by ZombiePie (6196 posts) -
Loading Video...

#19 Posted by Pepsiman (2766 posts) -

Hmm, isn't there a first wah in the original DS game? I watched the linked video for it (and booted the game up on my DS to double-check), and I'm pretty sure there's a first wah before the first full wah-wah there.

My credentials as a scientist have been shamed. You are correct. The first thing you actually hear in that video in 1-1 is a single wah, which I had absentmindedly recorded as a full wah-wah. I will go ponder the implications of your correction on science and possibly submit an edit to the journal I already submitted this to in the hope that the real truth arises out of this mess.

#20 Edited by SamuraiGarrin (89 posts) -

@pepsiman: Hey, don't sweat it. It's just that I'm all about wah authenticity.

#21 Posted by Little_Socrates (5834 posts) -

I'm so glad that there are two totally insane write-ups on WAH WAH/BAH BAH on these forums.

My only issue is that I count every single note of the NSMB2 theme as "wahs", even if they are high-pitched wahs. So that would be definitively the worst game because it goes, "Wah wah, wah wah, wah, wahwahwah WAH" (with "WAH" being the traditional single-wah as we recognize it in other titles.)

This would perfect the ratings, as it would pose NSMBU (easily the best NSMB since the original, if not the best ever) as #1 and NSMB2 (categorically the worst NSMB title) as #4 in all categories.

#22 Edited by Pepsiman (2766 posts) -

@little_socrates: As with many other developing fields in science, wah-wah classification is still in its infancy and peer reviews such as this will surely go on to perfect and refine the system as new, er, New Super Mario games are introduced and give the scientific community more material with which to work. Once these findings have been formally published in a scientific journal in the near future, I expect work in this field to take off, hopefully to the extent that one day it becomes a socially-accepted standard that is taught to children throughout classrooms nationwide.