Friday, January 8, 2010

2D Mario is My Kind of Mario

Games: New Super Mario Bros

Systems: DS & Wii

Release: May 2006 (DS) November 2009 (Wii)

Who doesn’t have a soft spot for Mario? The little red plumber saved the video game industry back in the 1980’s, and the simplistically profound gameplay continues to entertain people across the world. I’m personally not a fan of many of the 3D Mario games, but that is my own overly biased opinion—like most things on this blog. The 2D adventures, however, always seem to scratch my platforming itch. This post will attempt to compare and contrast the DS and Wii versions of New Super Mario Bros.

What they have in common?

To state the obvious both versions feature a classic 2Dish Mario adventure. I say 2Dish because art style is semi 3D, but all the gameplay feels 2D. The result is small yet satisfying upgrade to the SNES or NES version. Addictive music complements the improved graphical presentation. The music even affects the in-game world. Items and enemies will dance to the beat, and occasionally throw your perfect jump off target—with deadly consequences.

Like every other Mario game the Princess is captured, and the protagonist must travel through eight magical worlds to save her. The standard order—grass fields, desert, snow, water, forest, mountain/bullet bill, cloud, lava—applies to both games, but each provide unique level designs that fit the different game mechanics. Both rely on the classic power ups like Star, Fire Flower, and Mushroom. They also have the Mini Mushroom, which shrinks Mario to a microscopic size. This allows him to run on water, moon jump, and enter small pipes that often lead to secret areas. Regular sized Mario has also learned some new moves. The wall jump and butt slam mechanic allow designers to put new spins on classic Mario levels.


I’m starting with the Wii for one simple reason. It has the most features. This is a result of the superior tech power of a console over a handheld. There is also a three year difference in release dates. I wouldn’t hesitate to call the Wii version a sequel of the DS game. The most notorious and news worthy addition is four player co-op. Four people on one screen can play any level at the same time. When I first heard this it sounded like a boat load of fun, but be warned. Team work is a must. Collision is abundant, meaning each player can jump of the other. Imagine leaping over a gap only to have your “teammate” bonk you on the head—with deadly consequences. Players can also pick up, eat, and injure teammates with shell like projectiles. Things aren’t all bad. The A button is a virtual safety net. If you press it your character is put in a bubble. As long as one player is not bubbled the game will continue. Overall this mode is ridiculously fun to play with friends.

Each Mario game has a unique power up. Amazingly the most simplistic idea seems the most brilliant. The opposite of fire is frost. Give Mario a frost flower to freeze enemies and extinguish fire. That’s not good enough. Fine, try a Penguin suite. Now Mario can slide on his belly to take out enemies too. Both these mechanics are as fun as a midget clown fighting a monkey on a trampoline. Of course Mario has to have a flying feature, and the Helicopter Helm fills that role. Shaking the Wii controller will result in an upward twirl. It’s no raccoon tail but it will do.

The final three elements that make the Wii version unique are Yoshi, Koopalings, and mini games. I love Yoshi and he is not present in the DS game. This makes me a sad gamer. Mini games, however, are present in both games, but the Wii version is completely in-game. Players/teams can go into mushroom huts to gain power ups and 1ups. The power ups can be applied on the map screen before entering a level. This is a great feature that allows Mario to start a difficult level properly equipped. Finally there are many villains on the Wii. Browser is accompanied by the Koopalings from Mario 3, and an oddball witch who really makes the last boss fight interesting.

Ok I lied. There are two more secrets worth mentioning. If you complete the first eight worlds a ninth opens up. To play the levels on the special secret Star World you have to collect all the Star Coins from each world. I have only unlocked the first level, and man is it crazy fun. I can only imagine at this point what the other levels have in store. If you can’t complete the game, then don’t fret. There are in-game video guides to illustrate the proper path. This is a great addition to aide the casual gamer through harsh terrain.


There isn’t much to report at this point in the post. The DS version offers one significant power up not found on the Wii. This is the Giant Mushroom. Mario turns into Godzilla, or shall I say Marzilla, destroying everything in his path. The more devastation distributed the more lives awarded at the end of the rampage. Good times. Another unique feature is the power up system. Any extra power up collected can be stored on the bottom screen to be distributed at any moment during a level. The last element worth mention is the DS lacks many of the mini-games found in the Wii version, but offers a series of casual games unrelated to the main campaign.


Don’t let the small DS section fool you. Both of the New Super Mario Bros are excellent games. I haven’t had this much fun with Mario since the 80’s. An outstanding 5 out of 5 is Snerts Snazzy Score. May Nintendo never run out of creative juices.

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