New Super Mario Bros.

  • by Mr. Marbles
  • May 16, 2006 00:00 AM PST

Mario gets super in his first 2D adventure since the SNES.

Having heard the empty promises of a new 2D Super Mario game for years, Nintendo and Miyamoto have finally delivered on what is arguably Nintendo's best handheld system yet: The DS.

New Super Mario Bros. has been on everyone's waiting list since a bootleg gameplay video popped up on the Web early in the year, and Nintendo has also been hyping a series of gameplay videos on its own website, promoting its timely release just before the DS Lite's North American launch in June.

...a different experience each time you play.
Choose Your Own Adventure

In a nutshell, New Super Mario Bros. is like a supercharged mixture of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. There is a world map structure reminiscent of the previous two games, but this time there are a bevy of different paths you can take to get to Bowser's final castle. And unlike past Super Mario games, skipping worlds entirely is commonplace. In fact, I, almost unknowingly, passed up two worlds my first time through.

The newest feature of the world map revolves around the use of Star Coins, of which there are three strategically placed in each stage. Certain branching paths of the world map require you cough up five Star Coins to pass, such as item houses or even paths to new worlds. For this reason, it's best to try and snag as many Star Coins as you can, though some are especially tricky to find.

So the general approach from user to user will vary greatly depending on just how much you want to do and see on a trip through New Super Mario Bros.. There are so many extras, so many secrets, and so many alternate paths inside and out of actual game levels that you can really have a different experience each time you play.One could easily fly through the entire game in less than 10 hours, though another could easily spend upwards of 25 on a hunt for hidden content.

One Big Bad Mushroom

In terms of gameplay, New Mario is more reminiscent of Mario 3 than Super Mario World, sans the Tanooki suit. There are no Yoshis, but plenty of Fire Flowers and a slew of other fun new power-ups. While I don't think it is the best 2D Mario, it certainly ranks as one of the most fun.

There are several special abilities that add to new do-anything nature of the game, each characteristically Mario zany. Of course, there is the regular Magic Mushroom and Fire Flower spread throughout the game, but the new power-ups really define the New Mario experience. The first one you'll come across is the Super Mushroom that balloons the peppy plumber up to about 20 times his normal size, giving him the means to crush everything in his path for a short period of time. In contrast, a blue mushroom shrinks Mario down to a miniature state, where he can access special areas and mini warp pipes, run on water, and jump higher than usual. And a new blue shell suits up Mario in, well, a blue shell suit. With it, he can protect himself from enemies and turn into a sliding shell to take out baddies.

And besides specific item abilities, Mario is also equipped with other new moves that he can utilize at any time throughout the game, depending on the environment around him. He's now suited with a wall jump, allowing him to bounce off of parallel walls to reach a high objective, a Ground Pound (or butt stomp, if you will), a front flip that propels him over distant gaps, and the ability to tiptoe and hang on narrow ledges.

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WarioGarlic

Although frustrating, it's still a hit. When you said the Super Mushroom made Mario 20 times his size to crush everything, you were wrong. The Mega Mushroom does that.

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