I am a man of a few friends. Well, actually no, I have many friends, but the friends I can see in person are few. Don’t act like you don’t have Internet friends too. Most people I met during college and university, I don’t hear about them much anymore. However, whatever friendships I could salvage from my high school days, I managed to keep. And to this day, I still see these friends. There is, of course, the Pokémon fanatic I often mention in passing, but there’s also a guy who’s a lot more active than I am, who I see maybe three or four times a year, at most. And every time he comes over, he has one request: Play New Super Mario Bros. Wii. He just loves that game, and we played through it (granted, we would take shortcuts), even beating it pretty quickly. Don’t ask us to get 100% completion just yet, we don’t see each other often enough for that.
Following the massive success of the 2D/3D platformer New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS (which I reviewed previously), Shigeru Miyamoto and everyone else at Nintendo decided they could continue on this way; more 3D throwbacks to the retro 2D Mario platform games. And thus came out New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Also one of the games that barely uses the Wii’s motion detection, with the remote being held horizontally; and the motion detection itself is used when one of the characters, mid-jump, wants to spin, which activates the ability of the Propeller Mushroom. Or when a character wants to pick up something large, like a barrel, a frozen enemy, or a Toad. There are some other gimmicks that require tilting the Wii remote. The game also features a number of new power-ups. Of course, it’s just another Mario platformer, so I won’t exactly have much to say about the plot.
|"Mario, is it possible that all the gifts for my birthday are actually gifts|
for you? I don't see myself using the Penguin suit anytime soon..."
For the plot… that’s it. There really isn’t much else. From this point on, Mario (and, in multiplayer mode, Luigi, the blue toad and/or the Yellow Toad) just plays through the levels, enters fortresses, battles a mid-boss, completes a few more levels, enters the word’s Castle, battles the boss, moves on to the next world. With the occasional Airship mixed in.
|World 2, with a shifting sand lake.|
|Wait, if Luigi is the Super Guide, does that make Luigi|
better than Mario? Awesome!
Also on a world map, sometimes a Toad bubble with “HELP ME!!” will appear over a level. This is a side-quest of sorts where you have to save a Toad by carrying him through a level. Yes, carrying, which means you cannot take flight with the Propeller Mushroom, and you can barely defend yourself from the enemies. This can be really difficult because these Toads to rescue have a bad tendency to appear in levels that are already difficult. And of course, you can drop a Toad accidentally at any moment by shaking the Wii remote (which, alright, Toads are sometimes so annoying I could understand if you do it on purpose). Thankfully, the reward is usually worth it; an extra life, and a new item Toad House appears on the starting point of this world’s map. There’s also the roaming enemies on the world map; when Mario bumps into one of them, he has to take part in a mini-game of sorts where one or multiple copies of that enemy are placed on the screen, and Mario has to collect eight Toad balls. If he succeeds, the enemies will be defeated instantly, and a chest containing a Toad will appear; Toad will even give Mario three Super Mushrooms for free! Oh thanks, this sure repays the life I may have lost trying to save your sorry little ass!
|A completed Power-Up Panels mini-game.|
|The enemies are clearly helping each other, why can't we?|
|Luigi, this is not time-a for a bubble joyride-a!|
Last but not least, if you really want to see professional players and what they achieve in a level, head all the way back to World 1; the doors to Peach’s Castle are open. In there, you can spend a number of Star Coins to view either excellent exploits, tips to get many additional lives (you’ll need those), or the path towards secret exits in some levels. And really, isn’t the game complete until you’ve seen absolutely everything it has to offer?
|And not a single warp whistle in sight.|
Like I said, many levels have unique gimmicks, and sometimes you need to adapt to the situation. A situation which you’ll usually only know about once you enter the level! Of course, this adds a breath of fresh air to the concept, as many 2D platforming Mario games wouldn’t play around as much with the physics and enemy placement. NSMBWii features a wide variety of enemies, old and new, and some enemies appear in a single level, making them a sweet surprise. (P.S. Look out for the King Bills.)
|Let's see what's behind door #2- wha? It disappeared!|
So… let’s talk about the bosses. One awaits at the end of each Fortress, and when defeated there the boss just runs to the Castle to hide and is faced a second time. Obviously the Koopalings CAN live through two defeats without much trouble. After all, they are elite members of Bowser’s army. And yet, it’s as simple as it can get: Every world has a Koopaling. That’s it. One battle against the Koopaling in the Fortress, and then a second battle against it, with Kamek changing the layout of the boss room, adding that little edge. Then there’s Bowser Jr., who uses his own kid-sized Koopa Clown Car; you fight him at the end of every Airship, all three of them.
Then his father awaits at the end of the final castle, which is so large it fills the screen at the end of World 8. The level itself feels actually bland compared to the rest of the game. The first phase against Bowser could be a challenge if you choose to fight fair, but of course he has that button that destroys the bridge he’s standing on. And you can easily press it. The Princess, who had been waiting in a cage hanged from the ceiling, reveals herself to be Kamek (Did you see it coming? Congrats, you’re part of a very select club comprised of, oh, I dunno, 98% of everyone who’s reached that part of the game!). Kamek uses his magic to make Bowser giant, and the next part is Mario running away from his lifelong enemy. Gee, Bowser going giant? Never seen that before!
|It's Bowsering Smash?|
Wait, I think I got my references mixed up.
That’s the whole game. I went through everything there was to see here; little to no plot, which explains the more analytical review. So, how’s this game?
Hard. As in, really hard by Mario standards. I’m just speculating here, but I’m under the impression that the folks who worked on the level design for this game were attempting to do something that wouldn’t be too easy for a 4-player co-operative mode, and not too difficult for a single player. They achieved it, in part. I consider the game really difficult for a single player trying to play through. Difficult? Yup. Challenging? Hell yes. Impossible? Oh, no, not that bad. But definitely tricky. I’ve played through it, though I haven’t collected all Star Coins yet (I really should get into that at some point…).
The multiplayer mode works like a charm (but obviously it takes some practice between you and your friends before you can form a team good enough to overcome the obstacles). You can choose whether you’re helping each other or competing. I strongly suggest co-operating, though. Well, unless you want your friends to greet you with a phone book to the face. Wow, that joke made me feel old for some weird reason. At least you should all agree on what you’re going to do as a playthrough. And if you want competition, the game offers Free-For-All and Coin Battles, so there’s not really much of a problem here.
|Is everything better with penguins?|
Well, it depends if it's an ice world or not.
Hell, I even think putting Toads as playable characters in a platformer is actually a good idea! It’s about time these guys got a part of the spotlight, and if you’ve followed the Mario continuity these days you know Toads became playable in more games after this one and Toad even got his own game for the Wii U, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
So yeah, I do have a number of points of criticism.
-The difficulty, which makes some levels annoying to complete;
-A generic story, even by Mario standards;
-The annoyance of the Super Guide causing you to be unable to get 100% completion if it merely appears in a level;
-A lack of creativity in the worlds (it's the worlds of SMB3 all over again, just in a different order), and the lack of creativity for the bosses;
But in the end, this is a good game. Tough but enjoyable. I just… I just don’t care much about it, honestly. It’s an excellent game, no doubt there, but I have many more Wii games that I feel like completing more than this one. Chasing for Star Coins is a great side-quest, and discovering all the secrets is a worthy self-imposed mission. I just don’t feel attracted to the game. But you know what, that’s just me. Go buy this game, have a blast, play with friends, have your Mario adventure. It’s just not one that would rank among my favorites. I think I even prefer Super Mario Galaxy. Come to think of it, I should review that one someday…
Next Friday, a Top 12!