Friday, July 09, 2010

Video game number two hundred: New Super Mario Brothers Wii

Video game review number two hundred in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "New Super Mario Brothers Wii"

17 years ago, Super Mario All Stars came out for the Super Nintendo. It was a compilation of all the classic Mario games from the NES days...with updated graphics. That was probably my favorite Mario game of all time. A year later, Super Mario World came out...and was an incredibly worthy sequel. In the 14 years that have followed, there have been many Mario games (including the amazing Mario 64 which is fantastic in so many different ways)...but as far as side scrollers go, nothing on a console has come close to those two glorious SNES releases over a decade ago.

Last year, all that changed...and for some strange reason, I didn't truly experience it until today.

I played a demo of this game last year at PAX, and then I bought it the day it came out. It sat on my shelves forever until today, when I decided to pick it up for game number 200. I'm glad I finally played it, because it's great.

This is classic Mario, with updated graphics and some new features. There is 4 player multiplayer (something I don't care much about, but it's an interesting idea) and just a touch of Wiimote stuff thrown in. More on that in a minute.

I played through the first world of the game, where I got to experience a classic above ground level, a cave, some water, one of those "air" levels where you jump on platforms...and all sorts of other stuff too. There's a world map (like the one introduced in Super Mario 3) and occasionally, you'll open up a "mushroom house" where Toad will give you prizes. Gotta love that Toad.

Speaking of Toad (the best character in video game history), from time to'll have to rescue him. How this works is that every once in awhile, you'll see a Toad logo on the map, in a level you've already beaten. You'll jump into the level and he'll be trapped in a question block somewhere. You spring him, then carry him to the exit. This is incredibly hard, but when you save get items for prizes. It drove me nuts, but I saved him a couple of times and thought it was pretty awesome.

Let's talk for a moment about the Wiimote. I've mentioned many times that am NOT a fan of games that throw the stupid "waggle" gimmick in for the sake of using the feature. There are elements of that here, but they aren't intrusive enough to really piss me off. Some are actually fun. I'm glad too...because overuse of that feature could have been the one way Nintendo could have screwed this title up.

First of all, the basic controls of this game are handled by holding the Wiimote horizontally, and using it like a classic NES controller. I like that. When you need to pick up another character (a buddy, or an enemy who is frozen) you have to shake the controller a little and press the 1 button. While this could have been more easily accomplished by simply using a button, it happens infrequently enough in the game that I'm not really angry about it. I don't like it at all...but I can live with it. There's a spinning jump you can do (which also requires thrusting the Wiimote into the air), and you have to do that whenever you use the helicopter suit. I could have really done without this. It's my least favorite part of the game.

There is one "motion" function that I kind of like, and that's the use of the tilt. Sometimes, you'll find yourself on a pendulum of some kind, and you have to tilt the controller to move it. That's actually kind of fun once you get the hang of it. Another thing I actually really love is that the little speaker in the Wiimote goes off whenever you die or get a 1UP or something. That's insanely cool. There's also a secondary control scheme where you can play with the nunchuk. I haven't tried that yet, but I think I might just to see if I like it better or not.

Overall Score? 9.5/10. This game is as close to perfect as it gets. If they allowed you to forego the idiotic motion control stuff and let you play this classic game like a classic game, it would have been a ten for me. Even with the motion control intact, it's still pretty darn amazing. This is classic Mario at it's best. Definitely my favorite Nintendo game so far this year....and one of the best titles I've played in this challenge. I love it.

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