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Wednesday, July 05, 2006 

It'sa Me... NEWWW Mario!!!

It's been a few years since we last saw Nintendo's venerable mascot, Mario, running around in a brand new platformer. While I didn't have anything against Mario's most recent video game incarnation, "Super Mario Sunshine" for the Gamecube, I couldn't help but shake this small feeling on the inside that I kinda missed seeing Mario in a classic 2D platformer likes the classics of yesteryear.

Well, apparently, Nintendo was listening to me and the 3 million other people that have bought the game around the world in a matter of a month and a half. "New Super Mario Bros.," squeezes everything we all loved about the classic 2-D Mario platformers on the NES, and makes it all available for Nintendo's dual-screened wonder-handheld. The game itself feels like they took parts of SMB 1, 3, and World, and mixed it all together with some of the moves of the 3-D titles. Nintendo wanted to make sure that this game never got too complicated for older gamers looking to relive their youth, so you only wind up using two buttons and a D-pad, just like the NES Mario games, to control the loveable Italian plumber. And don't bother looking for Yoshi, Star Road, or any of those other things we all got used to after playing Super Mario World for the SNES; this is a straight-up, no frills, NES-era classic Mario game.

Just because it's classic gameplay, however, it doesn't mean that the game is old, by any means. This is a brand-new game, and it features brand-new power-ups that are exclusive to this game. First, there's the Mega Mushroom, which makes Mario incredibly HUGE and invincible for a limited amount of time. And then, there's the Mini-Mushroom, which, as you can expect, can make Mario small enough to run through tiny spaces, and also gives him the ability to run across water. And finally, there's the blue koopa shell, which turns Mario into Koopa/Mario hybrid that's good at richocheting off walls and swimming in water. None of the cool power-ups we saw in Super Mario Bros. 3, like the leaf or the frog suit don't make it into the game, but it's not like you miss them considering NSMB has plenty to do without them.

While the graphics won't blow you away and don't even come close to pushing the DS to its limits, the levels and characters have been well-crafted and animated and sport somewhat of a 3-D feel. It's safe to say that no 2-D Mario game has ever looked this good.

It won't take long for Super Mario veterans to tear through this game, but thankfully, there are secret levels that one can find if they look hard enough. And, if the single-player mode isn't enough to whet your appetite, you could always try you hand at the numerous mini-games that the game has built-in, and you could even play these games with up to four other players. Some of the mini-games are just rehashes of the Super Mario 64 DS ones, but nonetheless, they are still great fun, and take advantage of the DS' touchscreen in ways that the single player game just doesn't.

Overall, this is an excellent game to add to anyone's DS collection, and is especially good looking in one of those brand-spanking new DS Lites. I wouldn't consider this game a "system-seller," but it's definitely a must-buy for anyone who misses playing the classic Mario games and is fed up with just how "complicated" modern games have become.

"Man, we are sexy together!"

PROS: Anyone who's ever played the original NES "Super Mario Bros.," (it must be asked...who hasn't?) will be able to pick up this game and feel right at home. No instruction manuals, no tutorials. Nada. Just straight up pick up and play. The controls are pinpoint, and it just feels right.

CONS: It won't take long before veterans will be able to completely polish off this game, and it doesn't take much to do so. This is, after all, a game aimed at people who were scared off the Mario series once it required more than two buttons to play. Also, the mini-games and multiplayer mode won't keep you entertained for too long, especially when there are much better multiplayer alternatives on the DS. (Ahem, Mario Kart, ahem)

Wish List: Maybe, just maybe, another powerup? And what happened to the boss fights? Incredibly easy and repetitive, if you ask me.