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Critical Reception: Nintendo's  New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Critical Reception: Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros. Wii

November 18, 2009 | By Danny Cowan

November 18, 2009 | By Danny Cowan
More: Console/PC, Columns

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a multiplayer platformer that reviews describe as "a game that offers something for every kind of gamer, without compromise." New Super Mario Bros. Wii currently earns a score of 87 out of 100 at's Jeremy Parish gives the game a grade of A+. "New Super Mario Bros. Wii is precisely the game that, back in 1991, I figured we'd be playing 20 years down the road," he begins. "That is to say, it's a direct evolution of the classic Mario games, specifically Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World."

"What makes the game great is the way it recaptures the sense of effortless creativity that the best Mario games have always possessed," Parish continues. "Here's the final proof that cutting-edge technology isn't necessary to create a fresh and interesting game. Here you see greatness is really all about the ideas, the personality, the playability... and NSMB Wii is an exceptional game that anyone can play. In fact, that's the whole point."

Parish notes that New Super Mario Bros. Wii's greatest success lies in its accessibility. "The real strength of NSMB Wii isn't that it incorporates every great idea from 20 years of Mario games into a satisfying whole; it's that it does so in a way that's designed to entice gamers of every skill level," he explains. "On top of that, it lets that full gamut of gamers join in and play together all at once and have a great time doing it."

He continues: "Nintendo's been peddling the concept of 'bridge games' that appeal to both hardcore and casual gamers for years, but NSMB Wii is the first time they've really and truly delivered on that idea. Here is a game that offers something for every kind of gamer, without compromise."

At Game Informer, Dan Ryckert rates NSMB Wii at 9.25 out of 10. "With the success of the Wii and its focus on local multiplayer gameplay, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a no-brainer," he says. "Take the classic series that gamers young and old adore, introduce four-player gameplay for the first time, and watch it fly off the shelves."

Ryckert finds that NSMB Wii's multiplayer element is consistently entertaining. "I hesitate to call it co-op gameplay, simply because of the sheer number of times you'll accidentally (or sometimes, intentionally) screw your friends over in hilarious fashion," he notes. "It's these chaotic moments that result in punched shoulders or players getting banned from future multiplayer sessions."

The game's later levels do not lend themselves well to the multiplayer component, however. "Playing with a few friends adds a new element to the Mario experience, but it's not without its frustrations," Ryckert warns. "Accidentally falling to your doom is funny when you have a healthy stash of lives, but later stages require precise platforming, and it's much harder to perform quick, accurate jumps when there are three others trying to do the same thing."

Otherwise, Ryckert feels that NSMB Wii is a successful update for a classic formula. "It doesn't matter if your first gaming system was the NES or DS; New Super Mario Bros. Wii proves that 2D platformers are still a blast," he notes in conclusion. "Longtime gamers will love the countless throwbacks to previous titles, and the multiplayer gameplay is fantastic (albeit hectic) fun for everyone."

Wired's Chris Kohler scores New Super Mario Bros. Wii at 8 out of 10. "If you've got friends who regularly come over for Smash Bros. and Mario Kart competitions, this is the perfect addition to your collection," he says. "If you're just looking for a solo adventure on par with 2007's exceptional Super Mario Galaxy, the new game falls a bit flat: It's fun, but designed more for chaotic multiplayer than deliberate single-player."

Kohler finds that NSMB Wii's multiplayer aspect is chaotic throughout. "You might be playing with three Mario experts," he warns, "but the fact that you're all stuck in the level together means that everyone's carefully laid plans can be quickly thrown awry when one of your friends does something you didn't expect " jumps over you and knocks you into a bottomless pit, nudges you off a platform, accidentally kicks a turtle shell at you."

Kohler continues: "This goes double when you're playing the competitive mode. In Coin Battle, all thoughts of working together to clear the game's levels go out the window. Everyone's competing to collect as many coins as possible, and that means that you'll be intentionally firing turtle shells at your pals."

Kohler notes that New Super Mario Bros. Wii feels empty in its single-player mode, however. "Bringing friends along for the ride seems like the optimal experience," he emphasizes. "While you can play New Super Mario Bros. Wii entirely by yourself, it's hard to shake the feeling that the other three players are missing. Previous 2-D Mario games could have all kinds of different levels that were tailored specifically to a single player, but New Super Mario Bros. Wii's are wide open and mostly linear -- which you need if you're going to give four players their own personal spaces."

"New Super Mario Bros. Wii is an excellent game with friends, and I had a great deal of challenging fun with the solo mode," Kohler concludes. "But if you're looking for a new Mario adventure that's tailored to creating the maximum amount of fun for just one person, you'll have to wait for next year's Super Mario Galaxy 2."

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