New Super Mario Bros.
Platform: Nintendo DS
Rating: E (Everyone)
Mario is an institution: the first home system for many gamers was an NES, and of course our plucky plumber’s game came packed in with the NES for a number of years. Before that, we were fans of his work with Donkey Kong when he was simply Jumpman. Since those humble beginnings he has been in games across every Nintendo platform, been a star in any number of sports games (while still retaining that big ol’ belly he’s known for) and never seems to get down—even though he can’t keep his girlfriend with him for more than a few minutes at a time before she’s stolen off into the night. Yup, Mario and gaming just seem to go together.
Although we’ve seen him usher in the 3D-era in Mario 64 and give us some headaches in Mario Sunshine, a lot of people have been wondering if we’d ever see Mario go back to his 2D roots. Sure it’s fun when he golfs, and as a tennis star he can throw down some heat, but at the end of the day we really just need him to run from the left to the right and jump onto some goomba-skulls. That’s what he’s there for. That’s what he does. If you’re into how the kids are talking these days you might even say that’s how he rolls.
It’s been a long time since Super Mario World, his last straight-up 2D adventure. We’ve seen all his old exploits resold to us on the GBA, but it’s about time for the classic game play to get a new look. A lot of people were hoping for a new Mario game as a launch title for the Nintendo DS, but we had to make do with a slightly updated version of Mario 64. Not bad for a new system, but certainly not the new Mario game we were all hoping for. Nintendo first showed some of what would become the New Mario Bros. as a tech-demo for the DS. It was way to prove they were going back to their roots.
Finally, after being teased by magazine scans, YouTube videos, and ultimately a demo at E3, the real deal has been released. Nintendo has the chance to give us another classic: Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario World are both considered classics in 2D game design and introduced the Tanooki Suit, Yoshi, and the everlovin’ SHOE for the love of Miyamoto. What new things can we expect from the DS Mario title?
This koopa will never see it coming
All images courtesy of Nintendo
While it appeared that the game was only minutes long, it turned out that the Princess was in another castle. I’m very sorry for the spoiler, but I thought you deserved to know that the first castle wasn’t the last one.
Well, I’m off to save the Princess. How dare they keep moving her on me! I grew up on Mario and I still get chills thinking about the first time I saw the Mario 3 commercial with the Mario face on the world. Mario’s been around for 25 years—does he still have it in him to deliver a good 2D experience?
Let’s flip open our DS Lite (you did import one, right?) and find out.
Ron Jeremy is the real Mario
Don’t come into this game expecting a great story. The setup is simply this: Mario and the Princess are having a leisurely stroll, the castle gets bombed, Mario investigates, and Bowser Jr. grabs the Princess. Damn that boy! Well, we owned his ass in Mario Sunshine. I’m pretty sure we can do it again. That’s pretty much the entire story.
There’s an overworld map that’s very much like what we’ve grown used to in Mario 3 and Super Mario World. There are eight worlds in total, and moving around six of them is easy. It’s simply a linear progression. Two of the worlds will require some digging to get to, but it’s pretty easy to figure out. You’ll also very quickly find warps to the later areas in the game, meaning you won’t have to fight through the six main worlds to beat the game.
The first thing you’ll have to realize is you can beat this game quickly. I mean QUICKLY. If you have a free afternoon, you can rush through and see the end. You’ll see so little of the game it would be criminal. Once you realize that you can unlock new worlds and new levels by grabbing the three big coins in each level and then finding new paths by picking out the secret exits from the levels, you’ll start to see how deep the game actually is. You may be able to find the Princess in an afternoon, but it’ll take you much longer to see everything the game has to offer.
A clever player can hijack that cloud…
This is a dream for the player who simply can’t rest until they’ve found every power-up, every hidden path, and every coin. There are enough secrets that you will spend a lot of time playing through each level before you see everything that level has to offer. While a lot of reports are saying this game is short, I think that’s missing the point. The replay value and number of secrets this game holds is very impressive.
While I’m glad Nintendo decided to bring this game to the DS to take advantage of the system’s upgraded graphics capabilities, the touch-screen is mostly wasted. You’ll use it in the mini-games and to select your backup items but that’s it. You’re given a map that shows you how far along you are in the level, but knowing how close we are to the end really isn’t helpful information. I’m not sure what they could have done with the bottom screen, but that’s Nintendo’s job to figure out, not mine. As it stands, they wasted the opportunity to give us more information or just something amusing to look at.