Giant Bomb Review

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New Super Mario Bros. Wii Review

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  • Wii

While technically accurate, the "New" in New Super Mario Bros. Wii is surrounded by all of the classic 2D platforming mechanics from Mario's past, making it more of a nostalgic product than something truly new. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


The penguin suit lets you walk normally on ice. 
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is kind of a goofy title, but it tells you just about everything you need to know about Nintendo's latest release. It's new. It's got those Super Mario Bros. guys in it. And it's for the Wii. The nostalgist in me wants to stop right there and say "That's all you need to know, get to a store!" But that'd be pretty irresponsible. You should probably know for sure that this Wii sequel to the DS release of New Super Mario Bros. updates the classic side-scrolling formula in most of the same ways that the DS game did back in 2006. You'll be expected to collect big coins and find the occasional secret exit when you're attempting to play seriously. But there's also an outrageously chaotic multiplayer mode that feels like an entirely different game.

The story and setting for New Super Mario Bros. Wii feels very rooted in the Super Mario Bros. 3 style of airships, world maps, suits, and the Koopa kids, who serve as both mid-bosses and bosses for each of the game's eight main worlds and impede your progress as you attempt to save Princess Peach yet again. But this isn't a remake of SMB3. You'll see some Super Mario World-era stuff sprinkled in there, and Mario's abilities include the butt stomp, triple jump, wall jump, and spin attack. So there's more to it than just running, jumping, and throwing the occasional fireball, and most of the variety comes from the game's power-ups. Most of them are pretty standard for the series, including the fire flower and the mini-mushroom, which makes you small. The more interesting additions are things like the propeller suit, which gives you a burst of flight when you shake the Remote, the ice flower, which shoots ice balls that freeze enemies, and the penguin suit, which lets you walk normally on ice, lets you slide on your stomach for long distances, and also lets you shoot the same ice balls that the ice flower offers.

As you make your way from one end of this adventure to the other, you'll pass through the standard array of themed levels. Yes, you read that right, New Super Mario Bros. Wii has an ice world and a fire world, a combination so potent that I almost feel like an idiot for even writing about it. Seriously, I might as well just write "This game has coins in it and when you collect 100 of them, you're awarded with an extra life, which the game calls a 1UP." My point is that if you've been playing games for awhile, you already know most of what to expect from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It doesn't rock the boat too much.

This coin battle stage takes things back to the original Mario Bros. 
Unsurprisingly, that's also one of the game's best qualities. With this product, Nintendo is simply reselling your childhood to you in a way that's playable on its latest hardware. Or, if you're still a child, it's doing the Disney thing by repacking its history in ways that are still palatable. By modernizing some bits around the edges, this doesn't feel like some kind of cheap rehash or shameless cash-in. By giving you more control over the characters via the additional jumping moves and power-ups like the ice flower, which lets you freeze enemies into blocks of ice that you can then stand on, the game provides a path for players who want to play with reckless abandon, holding down the run button at all times and just doing everything they can to stay alive during a mad break for the finish line. Playing this way is fairly doable if you've grown up alongside the series and still have most of your platforming wits about you, mostly because the game isn't terribly difficult and rarely asks you to do anything out-of-the-ordinary unless you're hellbent on finding every secret exit and collecting every last star coin, which opens up bonus levels at the end of the game. I also found it to be a lot more fun to play a little recklessly, and the way the game constantly throws extra lives at you means that you'll have plenty of backup if a section gets rough.
 
For players who don't want the added intensity, taking it slower is a viable, and significantly easier option. Patient players probably won't die very often. If you're an absolute beginner and manage to die eight times on the same level, the game will offer to show you a route through the level. You can interrupt the playback of this "super guide" at any point and take control yourself, or you can just let it play through the entire level. This will let you skip levels, but you won't get any star coins if you don't do it yourself. But it's hard to imagine any but the most novice of players needing to heavily rely on this option, given the game's relative ease. It's certainly not as hard as Super Mario World or Super Mario Bros. 3, if you're looking for some point of comparison.

You can also play through the levels with up to three other players, who take on the role of Luigi and two Toads. Though the levels and the end goal remain the same, playing with other people turns New Super Mario Bros. Wii into an entirely different game. Players can't pass through one-another, and you can pick up and toss other players, too. Combined with a bunch of tight platforms and a level or two that kills players if they get scrolled off of the screen, this all becomes complete and total chaos with players bumping each other into open holes by mistake or, if your friends are particularly vicious, tossing each other into those same holes on purpose. Carefully collecting coins and working your way through the worlds goes right out the window and you're basically forced to hold on and enjoy the ride as you bop and bump each other through the levels.

There are a lot of rotating platforms and other tricky stuff to deal with in the later levels. 
That said, there are ways to actually cooperate, such as forming human towers and jumping off of each other to get the top player up to some high, normally unreachable area. But coordinating that stuff takes more patience than I've got. Perhaps it depends on who you're playing with. Either way, it makes a strong case for offline multiplayer, as the only thing that would make all of this more difficult would be if the other three players were on the other side of a voice chat instead of right there alongside you, occasionally coordinating a strategy or two. The game really comes alive when you're playing in a group, but it's so crazy that if you're trying to play seriously, it'll just be frustrating. Also, the game pauses for a split-second whenever anyone grabs a power-up or dies. If you're mid-jump or just really focusing on what you're doing while another player is off dying or getting mushrooms, the pause is really disorienting. But if you're just looking to screw around and have a good time, you'll have some fun with the multiplayer modes.

Visually, New Super Mario Bros. Wii looks fine, but not everything stands up to close inspection. The polygonal player models look a little funky at times, especially if you're playing at 480i. It probably depends on what sort of TV you're using, but it didn't always look technically proficient on larger screens. That said, the artistic direction offers the high-color worlds of wonder that you've come to expect from a Mario game. As long as you aren't getting up close and personal with the on-screen action, it looks just fine. The game's soundtrack is peppered with yet another batch of remixes of songs from throughout the Mario canon.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii doesn't make dramatic changes to the "New" game that was released on the DS, but by offering more substantial multiplayer and a set of new levels to conquer, it stands out as one of the Wii's best. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a great throwback that'll probably suck you in for a couple of days all by yourself, and for a bit longer if you've got friends that you want to toss into a bottomless pit. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
95 Comments
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Posted by DrRandle

Okay so out of curiosity, why is it only 4 stars? I read the review and everything seemed positive. There wasn't hardly a negative to be given. To mean, that means the game is pretty much a must have if platformers or Mario is your thing and if it's not, than this review had nothing for you in the first place. I'm more curious about how you come to your scoring conclusion rather than anything. I mean, to me, and granted I have played neither, Modern Warfare 2 and Mario Wii have a lot in common in that neither mess with what worked so well the last time. Just curious is all.
 
Also I like how there's more people bracing for a "shit storm" than there were people storming. Funny, is all.

Posted by reflekshun

Well done, nice review Jeff

Posted by ahoodedfigure

I guess I'll just ignore the star ratings from now on. :)

Posted by atomic_dumpling
@ahoodedfigure said:
" I guess I'll just ignore the star ratings from now on. :) "
Yes. They obviously throw coins for anything higher than 3.
Posted by Alex_V

I appreciate that it's chaotic with 4-players. But I would like to know what it's like with 2 players, which in practical terms is how most wii users will be playing the multiplayer game. I would guess it's not chaotic at all.

Posted by JackSukeru

I'm curious how the game works with only two, fairly skilled, players, it doesn't seem like something a lot of reviewers have talked about. 
Oh well, I guess I'll find out. It's not like I wont buy this game.

Posted by Diamond
@RockmanBionics: @Alex_V: I played about 1/3 of the game with a friend as a side to my single player play.  When we were playing seriously, not messing around at all, it was a little harder for me than in single player, because of the camera (it's not perfect in either direction) and running into the other player, obviously.  There were star coins that were easier to grab because I'd pick up my friend and jump and he'd jump off of that and we'd get them easier.  The game might have been easier for him overall, and harder for me but I don't know.
Posted by Kohe321

Great review, Jeff. Four stars seems accurate, I can't wait to get this game.

Posted by Starsimon
@Valru said:
"Hate to say but I dont even own a wii, but from everything I've heard about this game I'd expect  a 5 star review; especially since giantbomb seems to hand out five starts left and right. (perhaps a half star rating should be implemented) "

+1 on what he said.
Posted by JackPack

I'm a bit disappointed that it only got 4 stars, seems Nintendo is losing it's appeal. I've read many reviews and it looks like this game isn't a must have.

Posted by SpunkyHePanda

You're right guys, this "shitstorm" is unbearable.

Online
Posted by killername

Watch out Jeff! The Nintendo Fanboi Secret Police will be on to you again. 
 
4 stars = lower than what you gave Zelda!  JIHAD on the Gurstmann!

Posted by lawlerballer

lol @ ninty fanboys complaining about only 4 stars 

Edited by Crushed
@lawlerballer said:

" lol @ ninty fanboys complaining about only 4 stars  "

Uh... where?
 
EDIT: There's like 10 comments predicting a wave of complaints, but I'm not seeing any so far.
Posted by ilduce620

The sad thing is, the 4 star score is very good, but Metacritic will turn it into something more akin to an 80%, which while meaning the same thing, just sounds worse.
 
I think the game is really good.  I've only made it through World 2, but it brings back everything I loved about classic 2D Mario titles.  The ability to play through simultaneously with other people will give this game crazy legs even after I've played through it.  It's well worth your holiday $$$.

Posted by Feichai

I have it on pre-order from toys 'r' us and cannot wait to start playing it when it comes in the next day or two. By myself first then inviting my GF to join second time through.

Posted by super_machine

Four start is a good score. While I think this game is great, the tacked on motion controls are the biggest drawback for me. Both motion control action could have easily been done with the Dash or Jump buttons just like in the old games.

Posted by Linkyshinks

There's nothing at all wrong with the score in my eyes, it seems perfectly justifiable. There are glaringly obvious shortcomings. 
 

 Also, the game pauses for a split-second whenever anyone grabs a power-up or dies. If you're mid-jump or just really focusing on what you're doing while another player is off dying or getting mushrooms, the pause is really disorienting.      
 
Because it's meant to be, it gives you that quick shot of unease which ups the fun factor. Your initial controller input still counts so I don't see an issue myself.

Posted by xxNBxx
@radicalrobot said:
" @ArbitraryWater said:   I always found that 8.8 score to be silly, not because of Zelda, but for any game. What is the difference between a 8.8 game and a 9.0 game? .2? What does that even mean? Why not just give it a 9.0 if it's so close? I like GiantBomb's 5 star approach to review scoring way better. I'm glad I'm not seeing this game get a 3.8/5 haha! "

Why pay 2.75 for a soda?  Why not just pay 3.00 if its so close?   Thats what he felt it should have.
Posted by piderman

I had somewhat expected 5 stars, also based on the 'fun factor' in the quick look, but taking into account that the game is basically nothing new, 4 stars is fine by me :)

Posted by Jayzilla

The 5th star for this game went to the convoluted story line in MW2 from Jeff. I am still scratching my head over that one.

Posted by EndlessMike

ITT: People trying to feel superior by predicting something that isn't going to happen.

Edited by Knives
@JackPack said:

" I'm a bit disappointed that it only got 4 stars, seems Nintendo is losing it's appeal. I've read many reviews and it looks like this game isn't a must have. "

Did you read Kotaku, 1up, GameInformer, or Eurogamer's review? They all make it sound pretty "must have". This game was never suppose to be the big, A-team first-party game. This isn't a Windwaker, it's a Four Swords Adventure. Still great, but not brilliant.
Posted by locolukah

More people are flipping out over people potentially flipping out than people actually flipping out >_<

Edited by headcase

After playing the game, I would have disappointed if Giant Bomb gave this 5 stars. It's a good game, but a pretty thin package for the price. I guess I still haven't experienced all of it (finished the game but haven't played every level, don't know the all-coins prize, haven't had a chance to get in any multi), but even with all that considered it doesn't feel much bigger than the DS game. Great game, too much money.

Posted by Maphia

Great review, I expected higher based on the buzz. Nice to see that Jeff was unphased by the hype.

Posted by JonathanMoore

Fantastic. Will be checking it out... well, come Christmas.

Posted by Famov

This is game is, without question, my personal GotY.   
 
That said, I was going to make a comment about drunken 360 fratboy-wannabes, belligerent "year of the PS3" schizophrenics, and socially and sexually repressed PC elitists and how they are strawmanning and pidgeon-holing Wii fans because they got a reasonable review score for a highly anticipated game, but I figured that not everyone would appreciate the irony. 
 
Giantbomb, keep being too awesome for the people that troll your comments section.

Posted by dbz1995

Seems to be tonnes of fun, but nothing innovative or new.
 
4 stars seems good enough for me.

Posted by Chewii101

I can't blame Nintendo for sticking to the formula. But I can blame them for literally copying that said formula. Nothing wrong with a nostalgia trip but I was expecting a little more "zest" in this game. Fortunately, that zest was the GB QL. 

Online
Posted by AV_Gamer

As a fan of the classic Mario games, I would enjoy this game. It's just a shame that the Nintendo Wii is so far behind,  the only way to compete is to remind adults of their childhood. Whatever sales, I guess.  Waiting for the pimped out Zelda classic remake.

Posted by Jared

Purchased, waiting on Amazon!!!!

Posted by kagekage

whats a wii?

Posted by KinjiroSSD

A step backwards from the amazing Mario Galaxy.

Posted by Crushed
@KinjiroSSD said:
" A step backwards from the amazing Mario Galaxy. "
Step? 2D Mario and 3D Mario are different games by different teams. Mario Galaxy 2 is still coming out next year from the Galaxy team.
Posted by NumbThumb

Surprised at the game. Maybe I expected them to do more. It's still solid, but I think it relies too much on nostalgia. Bring on Galaxy 2.

Posted by Meowayne

gamerankings.com wrongly lists the giantbomb-review with 5/5 stars, pushing the game above the 90% mark. Heh. :D

Posted by Media_Master

I'll get it later...

Posted by Andeh
@KinjiroSSD said:
" A step backwards from the amazing Mario Galaxy. "
How can you even compare those games? They both utilize different game mechanisms. So 2D and no boom boom bling bling = a step backwards to you? :/
I prefer 2D over 3D mario any day. But that's just me.
 
Anyways, lovely review!
Posted by bluemanrule

This is the funniest video I've ever seen on Giantbomb.  The yelling is hilarious.  Poor Vinny!  At least the game looks fun! :)

Posted by Knives
@DanielJW said:
" I will lose faith in humanity if people flip their lid over a four star review.   Nice review Jeff, the Quick Look convinced me that this was a title to grab for Christmas. This review just further drove home the idea. :) "
The only people flipping shit are the one's who think shit will be flipped. Ironic.
Posted by robbob88

That was a GREAT GREAT GREAT review :D
Posted by Shatner

I've completed the single player game, but I am going to have to play coin battle.  Just watching that video was cracking my shit up.

Posted by AshleyBTB

I luv this game!!! so great!
Posted by 88Fingers

looks like ass
 
nintenfail