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17 Reviews

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

A glorious trip down memory lane

It was like being seven years old all over again as we excitedly stormed into Nintendo UK's office and headed into the clean white room, where a TV displaying the title screen for New Super Mario Bros. Wii awaited us.

This is an exciting time for old-school Mario fans. It's the first proper 2D Mario platformer for a home console since Super Mario World on the Super NES. And we're glad to say that it doesn't disappoint.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii doesn't try to revolutionise 2D platforming. It doesn't mess with the formula. It just does its absolute best to tickle your nostalgia gland, and does so with such incredible (and subtle) charm that it'll put a big, fat smile on your face.

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There's no messing with the story - Princess has been kidnapped. Bowser, who's clearly still after a rumble under the sheets with the royal lady, needs to have his ass kicked again and Mario's the one to do it.

Only now, as well as Luigi, he's joined by a couple of well-up-for-it Toads and that makes four-player frolics the big new component.

Before we talk about that though, let's make one thing clear: NSMBW is absolutely brilliant in single-player. While trailers and on-stage demonstrations focused on the game's new multiplayer element, this is a single-player Mario game in exactly the same vein as its classic predecessors, only with the option to slap three more players on the screen.

There's no necessity to ever play it with other people - you can still collect every coin and explore every area of the main quest without the help of others, and we were pleased to find that the level design didn't seem to be affected by the inclusion of a four-player option either.

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So there are still mental shifting platforms over instant-kill lava, Thwomp-filled corridors that require crazy sprinting skills and unnerving single-block-wide platforms that require every last ounce of your Mario skill to get through.

That was our other major relief - NSMBW isn't a walkover. Fair enough, we finished the game with well over 50 lives in the bank. We never saw the game over screen. But that was mainly due to the fact that the earlier levels gently ease new-school gamers into the ways of Mario kung fu, while any seasoned player blasts through it, hoovering up the insane number of extra lives the game throws at you.

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The first couple of worlds are fairly lightweight and the difficulty gradually increases until you're dodging mental Bullet Bill swarms that blast onto the screen like you're playing a Treasure-developed shooter, spinning platforms that give you a split second to land and leap swiftly on, and bastard Cheep Cheeps (the little fish) that swim at you in their dozens. We've never seen so many enemies on screen at once in any previous Mario game. It's awesome.

Yoshi's back, of course, with his enemy-munching talents that give you that satisfying sense of power as you bounce through levels. He can lick up hammers (thrown by Hammer Brothers), fireballs and just about any enemy chucked at you, and spit them back in the opposite direction, just like the old days.

The only shame here is that Mario dismounts Yoshi and waves goodbye at the end-of-level flagpole, which means you can only use the little green dino in the few levels in which he's found. You can't take him elsewhere. Why, Nintendo?

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