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 Akeldama

Loved the Quick Look

Posted by LiquidSwords

My quick looks ends midway. Can't wait to play this!
Posted by cstrang

"Technically", duder.

Posted by StarFoxA
@cstrang said:
" "Technically", duder. "
My first thought as well.
Posted by Sticky_Pennies

4 stars is a surprise! While I can totally understand and agree with your rating, I could only imagine the shitstorm that's going to ensue in this comment thread.
"OMG BIAS BIAS RAAAAAA"

Edited by JohnDudebro

INB4 SHITSTORM 
 
Still, Jeff probably doesn't have any friends left in the Nintendo fanboy community, so maybe they'll just ignore this one...

Posted by TimeWaffle

this will not end well

Posted by Captain_Insano

only 4 stars. Fanboy assault imminent...

Posted by DanielJW

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. :)

Posted by EgoCheck616

Oh look, another Mario game.
/sigh

Edited by Luke

I feel for anyone trying to review this game.   It's like you give it 5 stars just because it's a Mario game or you give it 3 Stars because Nintendo played it way too safe.  A 4 star review seams perfect to me. 
 
The ONE THING I took away from this game (which I think I've done a few times this gen on my Wii), is that Nintendo refuses to "grow-up" with me.  It's like their still making the same games I loved with a passion as a little kid.... but they aren't updating them for the generation they first marketed to... they're still making them for little kids, for this day-and-age kids, they're just luckily still captivating the childish heart I retain inside.  
 
My hope is that Nintendo will get on-board hardcore with online, ONE OF THESE FREAKING DAYS!  This game should have been online, period. 
 
Good review Jeff. 

Posted by GoronSurvivor

why the heck would people flip over a 4 star rating? that's damn good! lol 
i can see how some rabidly insane Nintendophile would bust a nut over this review though.. Damn crazies.
Posted by Bigandtasty

4 stars is a good score!

Posted by Crushed
@EgoCheck616 said:
" Oh look, another Mario game. /sigh "
Yeah, a 2D Mario game on a console. The last time Nintendo released one was Yoshi's Island in 1995, or Mario World in 1991 if you're picky. It's been 14-18 years since we got one.
Posted by MasturbatingBear

I dont foresee anyone flipping out thinking its to low. There will be idiots that say stuff like: 
 
@EgoCheck616 said:

" Oh look, another Mario game. /sigh "

and think its to high. 
Posted by Valru

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)

Posted by Kenzo287

In my experience Nintendo fans are a lot more calm and accepting of other games and consoles than say...Halo fans or the typical Xbox jackass...I mean owner! I think they'll agree with and accept this 4 star rating espicially when the score only means as much as the words written beneath it.

Posted by kerikxi

Damn Jeff, you're a reviewin machine. Kick those other slackers into gear.

Posted by Claude

This game never hit me like, must have. I might get it one day, but I still don't see me getting this over the holidays. I'm more of a fan of the 3D versions. I sucked at the 2D versions, liked them, but never finished any of them. Nice review, solid.

Edited by Dalai

Okay, 4 stars is not bad... in fact it's great. 
 
I'd give it 5 stars based on my experience with it, but nostalgia might be blinding me a little.  Hell, I've been waiting for this game for 15 years!

Online
Posted by louiedog

4 stars? This is an outrage that eclipses the time when that jackhole gave Twilight Princess an 8.8. 
 
Seriously though, if I had a Wii, I'd add this to the other 2 or 3 Wii games I want to own in a heartbeat.

Edited by Willy105
@EgoCheck616 said:

" Oh look, another Mario game. /sigh "

If you think having the first 2D Mario game on a home console in almost two decades, you must be going absolutely postal for having all these shooters out there. Heck, we just got a new Modern Warfare just two years after the previous one came out!
 
Anyway, if you grew up in the sprite-era of videogames, this must be like the most awesome thing this gen. I however am more excited for Mario Galaxy 2, but am glad this game is up to snuff.
Posted by Crushed
@Willy105 said:
" @EgoCheck616 said:
" Oh look, another Mario game. /sigh "
If you think having the first 2D Mario game on a home console in almost two decades, you must be going absolutely postal for having all these shooters out there. Heck, we just got a new Modern Warfare just two years after the previous one came out! "
Yeah, but you can shoot down UAVs in that one.
Edited by asian_pride

Great review, Jeff. 4 stars is a damn good score, but I just know Nintendo fanboys are going to be bitching about and going apeshit over this one. *sigh*...but what can you do.

Posted by Dan_CiTi

How could you give Super Mario World 3 not 10 stars?

Posted by Milkman
@Kenzo287 said:
" In my experience Nintendo fans are a lot more calm and accepting of other games and consoles than say...Halo fans or the typical Xbox jackass...I mean owner! I think they'll agree with and accept this 4 star rating espicially when the score only means as much as the words written beneath it. "
You obviously have not spent much time on these forums.
Posted by agentboolen

Wish they put in some online!  But either way I eventually want to get it.

Posted by Crushed

Nice review overall, but: 

It's certainly not as hard as Super Mario World or Super Mario Bros. 3, if you're looking for some point of comparison. 

Am I the only one who didn't find Super Mario World very hard at all? Outside of the Special World levels, the game was pretty easy.

Posted by TheFreshmaker

This looks like it will be great fun at parties. 
 
 I'm looking forward to crazy chaos with good friends in the same room, rather than anonymous losers over voice chat that have infected the multiplayer gaming scene.

Posted by Dalai

I know what this game needed to ensure a 5 star rating. 

Kuribo's Shoe!
Online
Edited by ArbitraryWater
@Kenzo287 said:

" In my experience Nintendo fans are a lot more calm and accepting of other games and consoles than say...Halo fans or the typical Xbox jackass...I mean owner! I think they'll agree with and accept this 4 star rating espicially when the score only means as much as the words written beneath it. "

That's a pretty good one. If I recall correctly, there was a massive amount of backlash (including death threats) after Jeff gave Zelda Twilight Princess an 8.8. That's Right. An 8.8.  As in, almost a 9.
 
Thankfully, the Nintendo Fanboys here generally don't care about the editorial section of the site, since they would much rather hide in the forums and viciously attack anyone who disagrees with them there.
 
EDIT: Oh yeah. I will probably pick this up eventually. Every now and again I would like to use my Wii for more than just gamecube games.
Posted by thecleric
@EgoCheck616 said:
" Oh look, another Mario game. /sigh "
oh look, another fps /sigh
Posted by JJOR64

LIKE OMG THIS GAME DESERVES 5 STARS!!!  IT'S THE BEST MARIO GAME EVER!!!
 
While I was hoping it would get a 5, 4 is still a great score.  So far I'm loving it and I will probably finish World 8 tomorrow.  Now it's going to take forever to get all those star coins.

Posted by erinfizz

Way for everyone to get their panties in a wad preemptively. 
 
Anyways. Nice review. Hopefully I will live to tell the tale of finishing the whole thing with 2 players, but it is totally possible that we will beat each other to death with the Wiimotes before the end of world 8.

Posted by Valkyr

I'm tired of Jeff being selfish, Ryan always covers all the stupid Wii games and suddenly he writes the review of  the biggest Wii game of this year.

Posted by radicalrobot
@ArbitraryWater said:
That's a pretty good one. If I recall correctly, there was a massive amount of backlash (including death threats) after Jeff gave Zelda Twilight Princess an 8.8. That's Right. An 8.8.  As in, almost a 9. Thankfully, the Nintendo Fanboys here generally don't care about the editorial section of the site, since they would much rather hide in the forums and viciously attack anyone who disagrees with them there.  EDIT: Oh yeah. I will probably pick this up eventually. Every now and again I would like to use my Wii for more than just gamecube games. "
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!
Edited by FireBurger
@Valru: What's it matter? Five stars means you should play it, flat out. Yes, there is variation in quality even among five star games, but they are all games you should play so it doesn't matter. If you introduce half-stars you have six ratings leading up to a three. How many levels of "don't play this game" do you need?
 
Reviews shouldn't be about creating a precise game hierarchy, they should simply be about recommending whether you should avoid a game, give it a look, or flat out play it. Five stars does that and keeps it simple.
Posted by Reuben

Nice review Jeff, as usual you made it clear why that's the review score.

Posted by TheJollyRajah

Definitely a must have title for me. Loved the DS version, even though I finished it within the span of five hours. I prefer the 2D games over the 3D.

Posted by Diamond

I just beat the game a few minutes ago, also unlocked some secrets which I won't spoil here.  I definitely feel the game is a little short & easy (even the harder levels in the game are easier than the average level in SMB3 or SMW), but I loved the game.  To unlock certain extra secrets it seems the tasks will be time consuming and annoying rather than fun, but overall the game was a blast.  The game does have some new mechanics in areas and brings back a lot of great ones.  Overall I think my appeal for the game will be limited, I feel I'm already mostly done with the game.  However, it's my favorite Mario game in a long time and the best Wii game I've played this year.

Posted by Undeadpool

Between this, No More Heroes 1 and 2, and...a couple of other games that escape me at the moment, I might actually have to pick up a Wii.

Posted by empfeix
@thecleric said:
" @EgoCheck616 said:
" Oh look, another Mario game. /sigh "
oh look, another fps /sigh "
You can't compare a character to a whole genre.  But then again why not :D
Posted by artofwar420

OH JOY, my 5th Wii game!!

Posted by Knives

So.. tempting.. too many.. games.

Posted by mustachioeugene

quicklook made me buy it for a christmas present for someone, review makes me want to buy another copy for myself.
 
thanks j.gertz

Posted by Zachariahus
@Luke said:

" I feel for anyone trying to review this game.   It's like you give it 5 stars just because it's a Mario game or you give it 3 Stars because Nintendo played it way too safe.  A 4 star review seams perfect to me.   The ONE THING I took away from this game (which I think I've done a few times this gen on my Wii), is that Nintendo refuses to "grow-up" with me.  It's like their still making the same games I loved with a passion as a little kid.... but they aren't updating them for the generation they first marketed to... they're still making them for little kids, for this day-and-age kids, they're just luckily still captivating the childish heart I retain inside.    My hope is that Nintendo will get on-board hardcore with online, ONE OF THESE FREAKING DAYS!  This game should have been online, period.   Good review Jeff.  "

I understand you may want Nintendo to change, and adopt a more mature and "grown-up" appeal, and I would agree with you that I have felt that way myself in the past. However, Nintendo may very well want to stay where they are, marketing towards children. If you look at the other competitors, Sony and Microsoft, it seems to me that their consoles are aimed towards an older age bracket, and the Wii is tapping into a younger range. I think that Nintendo is aiming their system and games more at kids and new gamers because the other two consoles don't seem to do that as often. So Nintendo is reaching a market where their competitors are absent from. It is a smart move by Nintendo, and obviously very profitable, even if it can alienate their older audience. That said, I do think Nintendo should get onboard with more online games, and I wish they would've released a more technically competent machine, instead of the Wii, but I also believe these things are unnecessary for the markets they are trying to get at. 
 
Sorry for the wall of text, I didn't think it would take that much, haha.
Anyways, game looks like great fun, I'll have to get it for my brother for Christmas, and great review Jeff!
Posted by thecleric
@empfeix said:
" @thecleric said:
" @EgoCheck616 said:
" Oh look, another Mario game. /sigh "
oh look, another fps /sigh "
You can't compare a character to a whole genre.  But then again why not :D "
And you can't compare one game to all the genre spread Mario games because it has some of the same characters.
Posted by Meowayne
@ArbitraryWater said:
Thankfully, the Nintendo Fanboys here generally don't care about the editorial section of the site, since they would much rather hide in the forums and viciously attack anyone who disagrees with them there.   "
That's an extremely unfair statement. The only "Nintendo Fanboy" in the forums that makes aggressive posts against non-troll posts is Al3x, and even he is primarily a PC player from what I gather. 
The rest of us are neither aggressive, nor fanboys. And going into Wii threads blindly shouting "no gamez lololo"  is not "disagreeing", its trolling, and is factually wrong.
Posted by Druminator

Glad to finally see some new old school Mario on a console!

Posted by Rhaknar

im glad jeff mentioned the weird pause when someone died or got a power-up in multi player. as much as i loved the quick look, that was quite distracting and I wasnt sure if it was the video player. then again i would never play this multi player, so it wouldnt affect me

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