Review: New Super Mario Bros.
May 31, 2006
Hey Paisanos! It's the Super Mario Bros. DS Game!
Mario: you know him. He's the plumber in the red overalls. He's been around since Donkey Kong in 1981 and has had several sidescrollers of his own...actually only 5 before this, the last being Super Mario World. Yes, it's classic sidescrolling fun, just as it was 20 years ago, in New Super Mario Bros.
The title is great. Mario hasn't had a sidescrolling adventure for nearly 15 years. Super Mario World is SMB4 in Japan, ruling both 4 and 5 out for this game. If 4 was used, Japanese would be confused. If 5 was used, Americans would be confused. To prevent this, they simply tacked on a "New" to the front. Plain and simple.
This has no effect on the score. Mario and Peach are walking when the castle gets mysteriously struck by strange lightning. Mario goes to investigate, leaving Peach behind. Bowser Jr. kidnaps Peach (sorry, she's too old for you). Mario gives chase and Bowser Jr. runs to a Tower. Original, but not very.
Mario has got 80 levels of pure Goomba-stomping fun! Many classic elements have been brought back from previous games. But, there are many NEW elements as well. A few new items and enemies greet you to another region of the Mushroom kingdom. There is now a Mega Mushroom, which enables Mario to trample nearly everything in his path. There is also a Mini Mushroom, which enables Mario to become tiny and fit into small holes and pipes and walk on water (literally). Lastly, there is a Koopa Shell that makes Mario become a Koopa and bounce around a level invincible. Classic jumping and "fireballing" are back. So is the wall jump from Super Mario 64. Finally, there is all the classic secret-finding and fun of the oldies, so you can have fun for hours...and hours.
Now, this is where it gets tricky, but that's good! The controls are an oil slick as in the original. Mario on ice equals five seconds to stop. Being underwater is a whole new ball game, unless you have a Koopa Shell. This really boosts the challenge. It'll make you pull hair and say, "Stupid Goomba!!" and you try again. Then, "Stupid pit!" But, after about 30 minutes, you'll get used to the standard controls. Which brings me to the pad. The D-pad (+ pad) is perfect. It feels excellent in your hand as you play. The ABXY buttons can be customized to suit you. If you are a SNES player, A/B = Jump and X/Y = Run/Attack. Or, if you're a NES or GBA player, A/X = Jump and B/Y = Run/Attack. It's your choice. You can use L and R to scroll a little (rather limited) or view an entire world map. This brings me to graphics.
Just have to say one word: Wow! Mario, the enemies, the items, and some objects are rendered in 100% 3D. However, the game plays in 2D. There are absolutely no slow-down or strange graphic glitches. It only makes the controls feel as if Mario slips more than ever. There are no sprites in this game. Another feature is the bottom screen. In-level, the top screen shows the gameplay, coins, and time. The bottom shows your current level, lives, level progress, score, Star Coins, and reserve item. Touch the item to drop it down. Very nicely organized!
This music feels just like the retro classics of the 80's, just newer. Koji Kondo (original SMB/SMB3/SMW/etc. sound composer) worked with Asuka Ota (this game's composer) to create some awesome music. It follows the Super Mario World tactic. There is a main theme that gets remixed to follow each other setting. It keeps pretty fluent, as well. Listen carefully and you'll find a few classic tunes in this game. Nostalgia!
Sound Effects: 9/10
They took out much of Mario's voice, which was a little disturbing. Otherwise, Mario's jump, fireball, and other SFX return. It all fits perfect and shouldn't bother you too much. There are times when too many odd sound effects would make you turn the volume down. But who cares, you're having too much fun to care about this!
Challenge: 6/10; With cheat: 8/10
D'oh! Alright, maybe Nintendo didn't really implement a huge challenge; they'd much rather leave the players with their own imaginations. There aren't too many big death spots, but a few can get very annoying, especially in later worlds. Lives are as common as coins, but you can live with it. Challenge yourself NOT to go over 10 lives, for example. BUT WAIT! There IS a way to increase the challenge. It brings back the original's no-going-back (in a large percent of the levels). See the cheat codes for that.
World Map: 10/10
The world map is awesome. It is reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3, with the Toad Houses, Towers (like fortresses), Castles, and Wandering Hammer Bros. It is semi-linear, with choice of paths at several places in the game. The top also shows the name of the level, total Star Coins, Wandering Red ? block locations, current level Star Coins, and reserve item. You can't use the reserve item here. The bottom screen shows all worlds unlocked and the full world map. Touch a world to travel there.
Too bad it can't be 13/10! Yes, this is where Mario games truly shine--replayability. Unlike games like Pokémon, with only one save file, this game has three. You can play over and over, with different routes and challenges. For example: standard exits only, no Mega/Mini mushrooms, 100%, no saving unless needed, you have to quit at game over, et cetera. Let your imagination run free.
Saving gets its own category for a reason. There is no Super Mario Advance 4-style of saving: no suspension save. You can only save when you complete a Tower or Castle the first time or spend Star Coins. But, because it's extremely easy, there shouldn't be a problem.
A nice addition. Many of the games return from Super Mario 64 DS. There are several new ones, as well. These are perfect for keeping you entertained when you don't really want to play the main game. A stylus is a must. Multiplayer unlocks some new games, covered in the next section.
Sort of a disappointment if you've been looking at updates since 2005. In some of the early videos of this game from 2005, it shows Mario vs. Luigi in many normal levels. But when the game is published, instead they chose to make 5 specially-designed levels and some new mini-games. It's still a great addition, just like the mini-games, except this is when around another buddy with a DS. Oh yeah, most importantly, this game does NOT have Wi-Fi.
A few nice little add-ons are available. There are wallpapers to decorate the bottom screen (for a fee), a challenge mode, minigames, multiplayer, custom controls, the ability to play as Luigi, and 240 Star Coins. Have fun unlocking some of them.
Buy, Rent, or Emulate: Buy
What are you doing still reading this?! Go out there and buy this game now! It is worth the 30-35 USD (32-38 CAD, 23-27 EUR) to buy it. It is sad if you have to go so low to emulate it.
Final Word: 10/10
This excellent, one-of-a-kind game is a great addition to the Mario series. New Super Mario Bros. is one of the better Mario games. Congratulations, Nintendo! You've made a great game!
Super Mario 64: "Thank you so much-a for-a playing-a my game!"