NEW SUPER MARIO BROTHERS
What more can be said about the super Mario Brothers franchise? Quite simply put, SMB is a set of games that not only revolutionised the gaming industry but probably kick-started what was to become the Nintendo dominance of the early 1990’s. Over the years there have been many a spin-off of the original games, on Nintendo’s later generation systems, but little more did we get of the classic platform game we had grown to love back in the day after the move from the SNES to the N64.
A good decade later however and finally we have what may just be the closest we’ll ever get to a new Super Mario Brothers game that has as much polygons as a tuna fish. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, New Super Mario Brothers for the Nintendo DS.
1. GAME MODES / STORY
NSMB has a wide selection and variety of modes to offer in the form of classic platform adventure, system link multiplayer and mini-games. The most entertaining of these is of course the straight forward, classic world-hopping adventure familiar in previous games. In it, you will have to work your way through at least 6 worlds of 4-6 levels to see those end credits that you worked so hard for. I say at least because there are two worlds that have to be unlocked secretly, which I found to be rather odd and pointless to say the least. The mini-games disappointed me, not because they were rubbish but because I had already played most of them, in Warioware Touched. Yes that’s right; this game has material from another game released on the exact same system. I couldn’t believe it, and felt downright ripped off at first. Then I remembered how addictive and fun most of the games were and let it go for a while. Add to that the fact that I also sold WarioWare quite a while back. In regard to system link, I can’t really comment on the multiplayer because of a lack of NSMB equipped friends so I do apologise.
The story is sadly just a typical Mario story: Bowser Jr. kidnaps Princess Peach or the quadrillionth time, all of Mushroom kingdom is doomed, Mario must save the day by jumping on a lot of guys. As far as progress has been made today, I was a bit insulted that nothing was made to make me want to rescue the princess again, it just seemed pointless seeing as in the next game she’s going to be gone again. I usually let it slip, but this time I’ve had it. It’s just a terrible story, over-used, unimaginative and a tad boring, bad boy Nintendo, bad boy.
Game Modes & Story Rating: 7/10
2. GAMEPLAY & CONTROL
Controls are more or less classic NES Mario. Direction buttons to move, A & B to jump, X & Y to run/throw fireballs and the like. In addition to this you can also tap the bottom screen to place a stored item in play which is a good system that works well.
Gameplay of course consists of running across the screen, jumping on things and making them pay for being in your way to saving the princess. In addition to that you can also pick up items from question marked boxes floating on-screen which give you all sort of bonus power including being able to throw fireballs to growing a few feet (in Mario terms, not actual). As you probably know, these are all well-known and previously used power-ups from other SMB games, but there’s more. If you thought it couldn’t get any better than being able to flame your enemies at will, well just wait until you realise you can squash them with your giant foot, and leg… which rests upon the rest of a giant Super Mario body. ‘Fantastic’ I thought the first time I did it, after beating the game however I cursed the dreaded mushroom of super growth as it took up my supply slot on the bottom screen until I used it. Take into consideration also that quite a few of the levels are incompatible with the pickup and you have a problem. It’s a gimmick, along with all the other extras that wasn’t really needed. Instead I would have favoured a feather that makes you glide or a little green guy named Yoshi. Sadly however, none of them make a show in NSMB and it’s a shame.
Levels vary very well in terrain from water, grass, ice and fire and the design of them is fantastic. Each level has its own sense of originality even for a series re-used so many times, yet at the same time holds true to the SMB games of the past. What did leave me disappointed was the boss fights. For at least the first 4 worlds, the bosses pretty much behaved in the same way and you had to do the exact same thing to beat them (which wasn’t hard at all). In fact they didn’t even get challenging or at least interesting until the final three; even then they weren’t that great.
Overall however, NSMB is a pick up and play game with plenty of fun, straight forward gameplay for all members of the family. If only they hadn’t replaced good stuff from previous games with replaceable gimmicks, then we might have had a formidable champion.
Gameplay & Control Rating: 9/10
One thing that was sheer joy when playing NSMB was it’s graphics. I’m going to go flat out and say it: this is the best looking Mario game to date at least in terms of the 2d platforms. The worlds look marvellous and true to their predecessors, the characters and enemies have never looked so life-like and other little touches such as the special roped platforms, water ripples and sheer destruction when rampaging through a level as Mega Mario just add so much more to game that looked ahead of its time back in the early nineties.
Graphics Rating: 9/10
If you loved the old SMB games and the sounds they made, then NSMB won’t disappoint. Not only do sound effects sound almost exactly like those in older games (with more special jazz on top of course) with the addition of newer ones but the original soundtrack is all here, sounding better than ever. A negative point in contrast though is that there isn’t really that much of a soundtrack there to start with, but seeing as it’s a classic assortment that most of us probably grew up with and love, it shouldn’t bother you that much.
Sound Rating: 8/10
NSMB’s main game will take roughly 7-10 hours to run through the necessary levels, without worrying about any of the other secret stuff. In addition to this you can expect a good 10-15 hours of replay value to complete the game 100%. Also considering there’s tons of replay value just for the fun of it along with mini-games and multiplayer, you have a fairly decent amount of time to fill up, but nothing that will keep you playing forever unfortunately.
Lifeline Rating: 5/10
6. DIFFICULTY BALANCE
NSMB is an easy game, there’s just no denying it. Well, at least until the final few worlds, then it suddenly slaps you in the face and demands skill far beyond anything seen before it. Bosses are unimaginative and although featuring a very timid progression line of difficulty, it tends to jump between levels and will certainly surprise you at times. However, as a whole I felt the game was overly easy and didn’t see me replay most levels more than 5 times on average, and that was the harder ones.
Difficulty Balance Score: 3/10
Well let’s be honest, the title gives it away doesn’t it? Yes, it’s the new Super Mario Brothers, and it does have a few new gameplay elements, entirely new levels and such, bit it is fundamentally another Super Mario Brothers game, and that’s not very original at all.
Originality Score: 5/10
It’s funny because even though the last few categories have given the game a bad score, it’s probably those areas that make the game such a joy to play and bring back nostalgia for all of us NES and SNES fanatics. NSMB may not be as perfect as some of the older games of the series, but it still holds that same level of enjoyment and care-free fun that SMB represents.
Enjoyment Score: 10/10
Story & Game Modes: 7
Gameplay & Control: 9
FINAL SCORE: 7.0/10
XGD RATING: 7/10
New Super Mario Brothers is a game that takes the SMB 2D games and puts them in your pocket for a brand new experience that although seemingly lacking in comparison to past games, offers a strangely fresh and modern upgrade to a classic series. Worth getting for any nostalgic fans out there and deffinetely deserves a try from all gamers out there.
Written Entirely by Jamie Robert Ward for XGD.com