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Best of the Decade: New Super Mario Bros Wii

New Super Mario Bros Wii

Platform: Wii

Release Date: November 15, 2009

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo EAD

It has warmed my heart of late to see 2D platformers becoming acceptable again. From the sadistic challenge of Super Meat Boy to the retro thrills of Donkey Kong Country Returns to the adorable charm of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, to name just a few, the side scroller seems to be making a comeback.

Some games, such as Super Meat Boy, exist because downloadable games have made riskier titles possible. Others, such as Kirby and Donkey Kong, are actually, in a sense, children of Wii Sports and Nintendo’s movement toward making things simpler again. There’s something about the design of a classic side scrolling platformer that’s easy to grasp for just about anyone.

Both of these categories of old school game are representative of a happy truth. As a gaming culture, we have finally reached the point where 3D, and the complexity that normally comes with it, is no longer necessary for success. I love me some complexity in the right situations and simple isn’t always better, but it wasn’t too many years ago when the classic side scroller was basically dead because there was no market. To sell, you had to be 3D.

This is no longer true. Graphics may be in 3D, and you won’t find me complaining about that because there are some gorgeous examples of left-to-right hop-and-bops that feature pleasing use of the third dimension for eye candy, but what is once again most important is great gameplay, even if it’s in two dimensions.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why a game like New Super Mario Bros Wii is thrilling for me. I love Super Mario Galaxy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sincerely appreciate a return to glorious 2D form for Mario. 

I mentioned in the Super Mario Galaxy entry that I thought Nintendo had done a great job keeping the Mario series fresh over its many entries. New Super Mario Bros Wii certainly features familiar gameplay. This is part of its charm. It’s satisfying to see Mario go back to his roots for the first time in many years. What’s truly special about this game though, is how it manages to continue that trend of keeping things fresh despite the seemingly rehashed gameplay.

First of all, I think it’s unfair to dismiss the game as rehashed in the first place. The years have taught Nintendo a lot of platforming tricks and New Super Mario Bros Wii makes use of all of them and more. The level designs here are superb. Every stage features new challenges and new ideas. This isn’t Super Mario World with a new coat of paint, though it does of course feature welcome nods to older titles.

That said, the key element to this game’s success has to be the multiplayer. This is the game’s true innovation. The “New Super Mario Bros” idea was actually done on the DS first, but there’s a reason it’s not on this list and its Wii brother is. Without the simply genius addition of multiplayer, the DS version feels like a proof of concept.

By doing little more than allowing you to play through the levels with up to three friends at the same time, Nintendo has completely changed the feel of the game and created one of the most compelling multiplayer experiences ever made. You can, of course, play it by yourself. It’s plenty of fun and feels like a well-built traditional Mario game. Throw a few friends into the mix however, and you’ve got pure chaos. 

Trying to complete these challenging platforming stages with three other people bouncing all over the place is sheer madness. Powerups get hoarded. Innocent Toads get thrown down pits. Luigi gets bounced on top of because it’s fun to hear him make that little quacking noise in protest. In other words, friends make this into a different game, one that embraces the classic Nintendo multiplayer tradition of being immediately accessible yet deep. 

Even better, it manages to foster cooperation and competition at exactly the same time. This creates a thoroughly hectic atmosphere, full of yelling and friendly taunting. It’s proof positive that playing with friends in the same room is more fun than playing online. Period. I appreciate what the Internet has done for multiplayer, but New Super Mario Bros Wii makes me realize why Nintendo has been slow to embrace it. I love that I can play games online with friends (or strangers) far away, but sitting with three friends in one room with this game is perhaps the most fun I’ve had playing a multiplayer game in the last decade. 

I’ve said before that, while I don’t actually get to play many multiplayer games, I cherish those that I do. This is why. This game has produced more laughs and good memories per minute than any other game I can think of in the last decade. I traditionally prefer single player, but games like this make me wish I had more opportunity to play with others, because the lovable insanity this game creates isn’t topped by any single player game I’ve played, including its own single player mode.

I’m still angry at Nintendo for including two lame-ass Toads as the only playable characters with so many other options at their disposal, but that’s hardly going to stop me from calling New Super Mario Bros Wii one of my Best of the Decade.

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Reader Comments (1)

Now there are all kinds of Mario games available on the Internet. While most of them are not officially published by Nintendo, they're all so good and as exciting as the original. Nostalgic surely find those who participated, even undeniably different. If there is a game you can easily share with your son or daughter, it will surely be some of the Mario games freely available online. Play one today and remember the fun game that only Mario can offer.

puzzle bubble

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBreetha14

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