New Super Mario Bros. Wii

VANCE VLEKLEI travels with Kyle in KYLE’S MAGNIFICENT SCHEME (AND THE TROUBLE IT CAUSES). Though most of the time he considers himself to be Kyle’s friend, sometimes he wonders how he allows himself to be pulled into so many crazy situations. Vance is an avid video game fan and has authored several game walkthroughs on the Internet.

Well, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach once again, and it’s up to Mario (you) to save her. This is the second in Nintendo’s series of “New” Super Mario games and the first to come out on Wii (the other was for DS). This series is part of the “retro” fad we’ve been seeing a lot of—in everything from toys to sports teams—and hearkens back to Mario’s early days, especially NES’s Super Mario Bros. 3. It is a side-scrolling (or 2D) adventure. In between each level you go to a map where you can chose your next world or play games for power ups. The traditional fireballs are back as always, along with the mini-mushroom the DS version introduced. 3 new abilities also appear: ice power, the propeller hat, and the penguin suit (think frog suit in Mario 3 with sliding instead of hopping and ice power).

The game can be quite a challenge, even for skilled players, though, unlike in the NES games, you can save your progress. The best part of the game is probably its multiplayer capabilities—up to 4 people can play at the same time. I even convinced Kyle to try it with me, and though he got upset and quit partway through the first world, I was able to carry his character (he insisted on being Mario) to the finish.

That's me carrying Kyle to the finish of the first world

Playing with friends has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that if you die, as long as your partner stays alive you’ll come back in a bubble and won’t have to start the level over. The disadvantage—and this is a big one—is that you can easily knock your companions off cliffs or into enemies, and if you don’t stay together those who lag behind and fall off the screen will die. As I learned when I played with some gaming buddies, this is a game that can easily lead to arguments, screaming, and even blows if taken too seriously.

The story certainly doesn’t get any points for creativity, but it is faithful to the Mario tradition. You work your way through the worlds, defeating bosses, until you get to Bowser’s castle and finally get the chance to save the princess. Each time I beat a castle I can’t help wondering why Mario, famed jumper, doesn’t just hop aboard that airship after Baby Bowser and save the princess right then and there. I guess he likes the quest as much as the reward.

Come on, Mario--jump up there!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii isn’t simply a chance to reminisce back to the old days of the platform, though it does that quite successfully. It offers a new playing experience that will satisfy those who’ve played games their whole lives and those who are just picking up a controller for the first time. Any Mario fan will enjoy it despite their skill level.

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