E3 ‘09: New Super Mario Bros. Wii Impressions
One of the big surprises that Nintendo had to offer at this year’s E3 was the newest title in the “New Super Mario Bros.” franchise – “New Super Mario Bros. Wii.” It’s a follow up to the massively selling Nintendo DS game, and puts Mario back in the lead role of his first console based 2D side-scrolling platformer since the Super Nintendo classic “Super Mario World.” However, there was one catch that came along with the announcement of the new title – it’s Mario’s first co-op game, and it was the intentions of series creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, to be played by up to four players at once. It’s new ground for both Nintendo and Mario to be venturing into, and it could really take a turn for the worse, if it wasn’t executed properly. Fortunately, after spending some time with the game on the E3 show floor it looks like Nintendo is going to have yet another winner starring Mario on its hands.
The biggest change in “NSMBWii” is obviously the four-player, co-op nature of the game. In what was shown at E3, Mario will be playing along side, and sharing the screen with Luigi, as well as two Toads in this adventure. Who knows if that will be the final lineup for release, but there are some pretty big characters missing from that list. Each character plays the same (i.e. Luigi didn’t appear to be able to jump higher) and you need to work together to complete the levels. And, once those levels are completed, each player gets ranked, based on their performance – the more coins you collect, and the more enemies you kill are just a few of the factors that determine your rank. It’s an interesting addition to a game that is being billed as a co-op experience, and not a competitive one. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to play Mario competitively, but knowing Nintendo, and their family friendly out look on Mario, they may not be open to embracing that idea. As an added bonus, if you don’t have any friends, you can play the game completely one-player if you’d like.
Nintendo didn’t reveal much about the game’s story, but the levels that they were showing on the floor were enough to give players an idea of just what to expect from the new game. The levels were set in different temperate locations, including the desert and an icy terrain, visually culling inspiration from some of Mario’s past titles, such as “Super Mario Bros. 3.” And, as far as the graphics go, they appeared to be polished up quite nicely for the big screen.
“NSMBWii” looks and plays extremely similarly to its DS counterpart, and it won’t be hard for anyone who has ever played a Mario game in the past to pick up. The easy to use controls will be vital to the multiplayer aspect of the game, since they’ll be a breeze for dedicated fans of the series, as well as newcomers (of which there can’t really be that many out there) who just want to play with their friends. Playing with the controller turned sideways, it’s the same old simple run gameplay that’s been around for 24 years now, with an added ground pound thrown in for good measure.
The levels that Nintendo were showing off also showcased some of the in-game elements that will make this game feel both new and old at the same time. Mario, Luigi and the Toads are going to have some new powerups to choose from in this game, on top of the omnipresent fire flower, including a propeller suit that allows for extended gliding flight, and the new penguin suit that is perfectly cut out for zipping around the icy levels, as well as throwing ice balls. It remains to be seen whether or not some of the mushrooms that were introduced in the original “NSMB” will make the jump to the Wii, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of them do. A couple classic characters will be making an appearance as well, including Mario’s BFF Yoshi, as well as those pesky Koopa Kids. While it’s not clear yet how Bowser’s brats will fit into the story, just be content with the knowledge that they are, in fact, in the game – and even a little more challenging than they were in “SMB3.”
No matter how you look at it, Nintendo fans finally have a new Mario platformer to play on their consoles, and if its predecessor was anything to judge by, “NSMBWii” is going to absolutely be a killer title, and it will be a must get for Wii owners when it comes out later this year.