New Super Mario Bros. Wii is mostly empty of classroom facts. As a 2D platforming game there are some basic physics concepts that are important, and there is a small amount of basic math in collecting coins and maintaining a stock of extra lives, but that’s about it.
Creativity & Imagination
By the Player:
New Super Mario Bros. is a mostly linear game, with players tackling the game's many levels in a predetermined order. That said, the game’s mechanics leave the player with plenty of room to improvise. While the game is mostly made up of the basics of running jumping, these controls can be used to a number of radically different results. Many of the game’s “super skills” movies, which can be purchased with hidden coins collected during the game, show virtuoso performances involving careful use of the jump, wall-jump, bounce and nuanced triple jump.
When multiple players enter the picture, the possibilities become even more numerous, as players can pick each other up, bounce of each other and interact in a number of other interesting ways. While these tactics can be used to compete with one another, players can also use them to complete some pretty impressive feats.
Besides this, players also have some freedom to explore in the levels. While they are linear in general, there are three giant hidden coins in each, and players that search diligently will find these and other secrets – including, from time to time, shortcuts that allow players to skip levels.
By the Developer:
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a throwback to classic Mario games in many ways, though the inclusion of simultaneous multiplayer play really pushes the game into new frontiers. The Mario formula is something entirely familiar, but dealing with other players manages to make it feel like an entirely new thing.
Even without multiplayer in mind, though, New Super Mario Bros. includes plenty of really imaginative level design. Many stages feature their own unique ideas or twist on the standard rules, and players never lack new things to discover.
A few new additions to the game also stand out. Two new power-ups allow players to shoot balls of ice instead of fire, freezing enemies into throwable blocks, and the new propeller suit allows players to fly up into the air with a shake of the Wii remote. These new abilities are, for the most part, incorporated carefully into the level design, and are just as fun as many of Mario’s traditional abilities.
The game uses 3D characters in a 2D plane, as the Nintendo DS New Super Mario Bros. did, and an original soundtrack is also in place. All of these seem secondary when put against the multiplayer mode of the game, which is truly compelling for such a simple innovation.
Players collect gigantic hidden coins in each level of the game, if they search for them. These are used to buy hint movies, which range from tutorial videos leading to hidden exits and other secrets to incredibly skillful playthroughs of entire levels. None of these are required in any way, but they do provide a pretty entertaining diversion for players who collect the coins, and many will introduce new ideas and new things to try.
People skills are an important aspect of the game, as multiplayer play is the main pull of the game. Mario games have always had a multiplayer aspect, and though it was turn-based it still seemed important. Now, though, up to four players can play through dozens of brand-new Mario levels together, an experience that feels as new as anything else this year.
New Super Mario Bros. really forces cooperative play on players more than most other like-minded games, because players that aren’t mindful of one another are quick to get into accidents. Players can bump into each other mid-jump, bounce of each other’s heads and even pick each other up. These can be used to interesting effect if planned carefully, but for the most part they are more likely to cause accidents, especially among new players.
While players are definitely going to cost each other lives, it is important to note that it never makes the game too frustrating. In fact, it is more often pretty hilarious, and it really does encourage players to work together.
Problem solving in New Super Mario Bros. Wii mostly comes down to moving from the beginning of each level to the end. Each level includes a wide variety of challenges, mostly built around the terrain or the enemies that appear.
Nearly every one of the game's levels includes some unique idea or set-piece. One has players jumping between rotating blocks suspended high in the air, and another has players dodging rolling lava waves. The strong sense of variation between levels keeps things pretty fresh throughout the game, and later levels build on the basic mechanics in a number of inventive ways. All of these levels, too, are complicated further when multiple players are introduced, as players need to coordinate their movements around each other carefully to survive.
Besides completing the basic levels, there are also plenty of hidden bonuses and secrets. Each level contains three hidden coins. Players that collect these can spend them to unlock movies that show other secrets and tricks. Some levels also have alternate exits that lead to various shortcuts. And besides these, there are plenty of powerups, coins and extra lives hidden in each stage. Players always have new areas to explore and secrets to track down right through the end of the game.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is not a simulation game.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii has been received extremely well since its release. Its clever level design, new mechanics and most of all, its extremely compelling multiplayer mode have made it a favorite among the year’s releases.
New Super Mario Bros. has an interesting mechanic to help players of low skill levels. If a solo player fails at a level a certain number of times, they get the ability to hit a block and have Luigi complete the level for them. While watching the computer proceed through the level, players can take back control at any time. This allows players of low skill levels to bypass particularly difficult stages.
Controls & Options
New Super Mario Bros. Wii is fairly limited in controls and options, with only one control scheme and no other really significant options.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii received an E from the ESRB with a descriptor for Comic Mischief.