New Super Mario Bros. Wii
by Ed

A lot of people seem to have gotten it in their heads that franchise titles are bad. That they are stagnant and that they don't create any new ideas. As such a lot of this gets taken out on Nintendo because nearly all of their first-party properties are franchises. Most of those franchises have existed for more than two decades, and recently people have become convinced that Nintendo needs to kill all their franchises before they kill off gaming as we know it.

Well first off that's a stupid notion, seeing as how their franchise titles always sell ridicuously well and are (most of the time) put together very well as games.

I said MOST of the time.

In addition to this, it's not like Nintendo is the only company "guilty" of franchising. Look at Capcom; they've pretty much run Megaman into the ground with franchising and "classic" Megaman wouldn't even be remembered now if not for things like Megaman 9 and 10. Look at Konami. Look at Ubisoft. Look at almost every single top video game developer and publisher and you will see, for better or worse, franchise titles.

Secondly a lot of these complaints seem to stem from the same kind of people who came up with the "hardcore" and "casual" labels to create a video-game class war for no other reason than petty butthurt angst because companies were making money off games that weren't generic brown and grey first-person-shooters that appeal to fratboys. Which somehow meant that people who had been gaming since the 1980s were being "betrayed" by companies that "owed them". Again, very silly notion. Companies don't really owe us anything, and speaking as someone who has been gaming since the 80s it is incredibly elitist to think that somehow we are the only things keeping the industry afloat these days. After all the time it took for video games to finally become an "accepted" medium of entertainment to where even nongamers can enjoy a game or two, we're suddenly going to turn around and become a bunch of elitists? Veterans, I am dissapoint.

Anyway the whole point of this tirade as a lead-in to my review is that anybody who tells you New Super Mario Bros. Wii sucks solely because it's a franchise title or "it does nothing new" is an idiot and you should really at least play the game before accepting anyone's judgement, and yes that includes the judgement I'm going to render on it in this article. I am here to merely offer advice, not force you to buy it.

Anyway the best way to describe New Super Mario Bros. Wii, other than "overly long title" is through this graphic:

Of course not everybody sees it this way, some people only see it as this:

This is, of course, the wrong view. I mean yes Super Mario Bros. 3 is the most obvious of influences on this game, but theres's elements added from Super Mario World as well. Things like Yoshis and the idea of a visible mid-level checkpoint. Also even if it was an updated version of SMB3, would it really be that bad? After all, that game is perhaps the best of the 2d Mario platformers, and the best-selling. It would be logical to use a proven formula to create a next-generation game with.

Of course some people might say it just is Super Mario Bros. 3 with a graphical facelift, and they would be right. If Super Mario Bros. 3 had 4-player co-op, a penguin suit, a helicopter suit, the ability to throw ice balls, wall kicks, different interactions with stage elements, and various other things that Super Mario Bros. 3 obviously did not have...then yeah of course it's Super Mario Bros. 3.

See! Penguin Suit.

Point being there's a lot more to the game than just "Super Mario Bros. 3" even though that really isn't a bad thing anyway. For one we get the return of the Koopa Kids, though unfortunately the waste of pixels known as Bowser Jr. still exists and seems to be commanding them. Considering it seems that all of Bowser's progeny are bastard children, the fact that he'd have his most colossal failure (remember, the kid got defeated by water and was easily tricked into believing that somehow he's the result of a tryst between a giant turtle-lizard and a human princess) leading his slightly more competent siblings is a bit incongruous but whatever. I'm just glad they're back, and seem to have enough distinct personality from one another both through the way they act in battle and the sound clips for their "voices". They also made it so that they're also your world mid-boss as well as end-boss, with the idea being they run the hell away from the 1-4 castle to the end of the stage for a Magikoopa-backed rematch.

Which reminds me, maybe I should explain the know cause that's what you play a Mario game for.

Basically Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings (hm, sounds like a band name) somehow infiltrated Peach's castle (probably because whatever army the Mushroom Kingdom has is constantly in competition with the Cornerian Air Force and the Galactic Federation for "Most Useless Army in a Nintendo Game") during her birthday, disguised themselves as a cake, and then used the cake as a mobile prison to kidnap her. Also they managed to somehow get the Koopa Airship parked right next to the castle without anybody giving a shit. Then again considering Bowser seems to have an OCD-level desire to constantly kidnap the Princesss and then lose to Mario et. al, maybe at this point they stopped worrying. Reminds me a bit of the end of The Dark Knight where The Joker says "I think you and I are destined to do this forever." And in some way, maybe Bowser and Mario are destined to fight one another until the end of time, even if Mario keeps dropping Bowser into lava it seems that it's impossible for Bowser to ever be finally defeated. Just like Ganon no matter how many times he gets run through with a sword by Link. Just like Ridley no matter how many times he's blown up by a Super Missile from Samus.

...Anyway I seem to have drifted off topic from "Why do I like this game?" to "Discuss the metaphors for conflict shown in Nintendo games." So let's get back to it then.

Graphically the game is presented well, using 3D characters and stage elements on a 2D sidescrolling plane. Nothing too eye-dropping but nowhere near the terrible some people would try to claim. Some enemies will even obscure parts of the screen with their attacks, or you'll be required to ease along cliffsides which, despite being in 2D, still comes off as harrowing. Sound design is done very well too, with remixed themes going across the entire Mario catalog with a few classic sounds thrown in (the classic stage clear theme, the classic power-up noise, etc.). Also of a somewhat interesting note is that the stage enemies, powerups, and even some background elements will "dance" to the music at times, which looks really weird but if this game is viewed in context as a celebration of the whole Super Mario series in general over almost a quarter of a decade, then it makes a bit more sense. But not much. It seems more that the dancing enemies is just a minor little detail thrown into the world to make it seem more vibrant and alive.

I might as well address the "difficulty" question while I'm at it since enough of a shitstorm was raised over the completely optional "Super Guide" option, which only appears if you're awful enough to fail a level 8 times in a row and even then you don't have to look at the walkthrough it provides. So really, what's the complaint? The game itself is as challenging as Super Mario Bros. 3 is, though since you can save progress it isn't as difficult in the long run. However even playing through this with a friend we were frequently chewed up and spit out by the game at times, and we've both beaten the crap out of SMB3 so I'd say this game is challenging enough.

Multiplayer is a mixed bag since it isn't perfect, but really I enjoy it because I feel the best co-op systems are ones where while you will be helping your friends 99% of the time, it's that 1% of screwing them over that's hilarious. Plus there are competitive modes added in like getting the most coins in a level and what not. Also, once you learn what you're capable of doing with the assistance of your friends during the game, you start to pull off some supremely interesting moves while moving in an odd sort of snychronicity that many platformers wish they could have.

By the way, all those platforms are constantly shifting. It's like a colorful earthquake simulator.

Finally the controls. The game is played by holding the Wiimote as you would a classic NES controller, while using motion controls in small amounts to do things like move platforms, perform spin jumps, and activate other devices in the level like this tilting bridge in the below screencap

People have complained that this game brings nothing new, that it's too repetitive. I'd guess some of these people are also the same ones that complain every time a Mario game has tried to do something new. Complaints like Mario moving to 3D, or Mario fighting things with Water, or Mario going to outer space...and so on. Eventually we must realize that just because concepts are re-used and just have additions tacked-on doesn't make them bad necessarily, especially for franchise titles since you need to keep things familiar in order to have your established fans keep playing. Given that NSMBW was only beaten by Modern Warfare 2 as the best-selling console game in November (the release month), I'd say the popular opinion wins out over the "they changed it/didn't change it now it sucks and you should stop having fun" crowd.

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over how awesome the Penguin Suit is!

Overall NSMBW is better than Super Mario Sunshine but not better than Super Mario Bros. 3. To be fair though, it's going to be really hard to ever beat Super Mario Bros. 3. I say if you have a Wii and you like Mario games then you should get it. Especially if you have friends who also have an interest in it.

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