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By Thomas McKinnon 8 December 2009

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There isn’t a whole lot new in New Super Mario Bros. Wii- the princess has been kidnapped (again!), you have to make it across multiple levels and worlds to rescue her while collecting coins, jumping over stuff and beating baddies. So it's classic Super Mario from the storyline straight to the gameplay and graphics.

Which isn't all bad, since another thing the game remains true to is the traditional challenge of a Super Mario title. Before Nintendo was the company that made game's for non-gamers, it pushed out hardcore, demanding arcade and console games. Despite its cutesy 3D graphics and 2D gameplay, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is seriously tough to play beyond the first world. It requires timing and diligence as you’ll find that you have to attempt some levels a number of times before you can complete them.

What’s new?

The only reason we can see why the game isn’t called Another Super Mario Bros. is its multiplayer support for up to four player. The chaos and sheer fun of four people playing simultaneously is a first for the series.

The playable characters (Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad and Yellow Toad) are able to interact with each other. Working cooperatively to boost, lift and share power-ups, the characters cross levels that lend themselves to teamwork. The level designs are imaginative and fresh which makes them engaging throughout. It’s a double-edged sword though, as a lack of cooperation proves a major hindrance, with team mates knocking each other off platforms or into turtle shells if you’re not careful.

Nintendo have ingeniously included a feature which lets players sit out a level at anytime, which balances the cooperation issue nicely. So, if you’re holding everyone up you can simply remove yourself from play and join again on the next level. The other issue is screen size; as players split up on levels the screen just gets bigger making the characters and platforms smaller, making it tough to see and often requiring regroups.

Beyond the cooperative level play, there’s a battle mode in which you competitively take on other player for coins. This is a serious amount of fun, as you’re not relying on another player to get through a level. There are also a few new power-ups in the game which keep it a little fresh. There’s Propeller Mario, Ice Mario and Penguin Mario which let you fly/hover, freeze enemies and slide on platforms/ swim respectively. While enjoyable, some of the controls are made frustrating by the senseless implementation of motion controls. Having to press a button and shake the controls to fly or pick up an object is just a needless distraction.

A major let down was the lack of an online multiplayer mode. We really can’t understand why Nintendo doesn’t pay any attention to the online gaming space. Let’s face it, you’re not likely to have a full compliment of four players in you lounge as often as you would like. The answer is to go online. Oviaas!

Can Solo

Nintendo haven’t neglected to include a solo player campaign for the game, with this campaign actually covering the exact same levels and worlds as the multiplayer. It’s a little more manageable to play seriously in this mode- collecting all objects and discovering secret areas is certainly easier. But, there just seems to be a gaping hole in solo play once you’ve experienced the multiplayer.

What's particularly strange is that the solo mode includes a Super Guide which offers to complete a level for you if you lose more than eight lives in a level. This proves very helpful if you’re just stumped – but its absence in the multiplayer mode struck us as odd.

Nostalgia value

New Super Mario Bros. Wii will take you back to a time when games were simply tough but fun to play. Its graphics won’t wow you, and neither will its sound effects. Where Super Mario Galaxy (the first Super Mario game on Wii) looked great and broke new ground, even winning a BAFTA, New Super Mario Bros. Wii conforms to the tried and tested Nintendo formula. Nintendo haven’t failed to innovate entirely though, as the support for four players is a master stroke, breathing fresh air into a classic.

PROS
Multiplayer is extremely enjoyable to play. The game is a real challenge.
CONS
No online play. Multiplayer does get a little chaotic.
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