It's not so unbelievable if you look back at the game mechanics then and now as time has gone on. In Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario begins in World 1, designed in the best way possible from the previous 2 titles and since has become customary to players of the series. This has been carried on, moving from level to level spread across multiple worlds, from title to title. Super Mario World, Mario 64, and while the platform changed slightly with Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy, the underlying mechanic has remained. New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS established the modern incarnation of the solo and multiplayer platforming experience for those players with a consistent love for Mario and Luigi and it stands to be that New Super Mario Bros. Wii stands to to take that formula and once again rewrite the formula without taking away from what truly makes a great experience.
I was disappointed at first when I saw the NSMBW during the Nintendo Keynote at E3 2009. Watching it played, I almost felt like it was going to be a multiplayer port of the DS title to the Wii and that would be it. Somehow though, it seems like I may have been thankfully wrong. Granted, the multiplayer is an important factor. Gameplay video will easily confirm that, as the camera pulls out a significant amount to make room for Mario, Luigi and two Toads all on-screen at once. This doesn't mean you can't play the game alone, it just means the character will look very lonely while doing so. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing. One of the greatest assets that the franchise as a whole has always possessed is the ability for it to be fun without being mutually exclusive in sway to single or multiplayer experiences. On the DS, the title has been one of the few I consistently carry with me. The single player experience, while strong on its own in a way that I would've purchased the title had that been all there was to the package, came alongside an equally weighty multiplayer mode as well. It seems to me this is the direction Nintendo is swaying towards and if done right as a separate game mode could prove to be one of the most dauntless factors to the title. For instance, I should be able to play NSMBW by myself and have a great time. Independent of that fact, were a group of friend to come over and play, the multiplayer adventure mode should warrant a playthrough, and if the video I have seen and impressions I read are any indication, the title is proving quite able.
But is a single and multiplayer romp enough? What about alternate game modes that made the DS version have such replay value? I admit that if I wasn't playing through the single player or head-to-head multiplayer, I frequently enjoyed playing the other modes, such as those jam packed with mini-games. I'm aware that this works for a DS, because there are times when an isolated gaming experience is all that would be possible like one of being on an airplane or stuck in the back row of an insurance seminar. The Wii version has the capacity to be enjoyable in the same way all of the Mario titles do, but what are the overall possibilities? Single player may or may not be workable with a full-fledged storyline. I have a feeling Nintendo would opt to leave out a deep story for the sake of a more accessible game. Essentially, the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2 would cover the base of a 'Mario title with a story' even if it proves to be paper thin and New Super Mario Bros. Wii could easily be touted as a multiplayer adventure where the option to coexist or compete through levels would be maintained until the credits roll. Modes outside of this, at that point, become nothing more than after thoughts and since most of what Nintendo puts there name on turns gold or prints money anyway, I wouldn't be especially surprised to see this title in a top ten list somewhere.
Ultimately, I believe that the most important point that Nintendo must consistently keep in the back of their minds is, as will all games, this: What makes a Mario title fun? If this is accomplished, then no one in the world can really bash the title. For all of the flaws than any of the titles in past have eked by with, they have done just that, gotten by because they proved to overcome any flaw by being an amazing time. Super Mario Bros. was ahead of its time, giving birth and laying the groundwork for the modern platforming and every time a Super Mario game is released, it becomes a vehicle capable of setting the bar again and redefining their genre just a little bit more. All aside, I'm interested to see how the title plays when I'm finally afforded the opportunity to play through it. In the meantime, I'm going to to give New Super Mario Bros. on the DS another go and hope that when I finally do get to try it on the Wii, it isn't a collided mess.
Same old song and dance.