The portly, iconic plumber we all grew up with has gone through some changes over the years. What began as a simple hero-saves-princess tale, overused, yet some how, it always works, has overtime evolved into much more. Whether or not the recent adventures of Super Mario and his many friends were worthwhile, (which I leave for your own judgment) one thing is certain; the old formula still works.
Rather than giving our mustached hero a new set of moves, or new motives, or even a new gadget, the New Super Mario Bros. relies on good old-fashioned fundamentals. In fact, by first glance, not very much is “new.” The story begins with the Princess being kidnapped by Bowser Jr., for reasons unknown. Perhaps she will be sacrificed to appeal the mighty smiling clouds, or maybe Bowser wishes to bake her a cake. For now, however, we will assume something malevolent is brewing around the vicinity of World 8. From here on, Mario must take action in the way he knows best; stomping on things until they die.
The game itself feels very much like the original Super Mario Bros. To admit that I actually felt a strong internal fear concerning the physics and controls of Mario’s new adventure would not be an understatement. To my gleeful thumbs, Mario joyfully runs back and forth exactly as he used to during his old escapades on the NES. Besides walking and dashing while holding down the appropriate button, Mario may jump, if you are so inclined to let him. And you will be. Again, the physics are top notch, and one would think you are playing a port with some vamped-up graphics. In other words, the control scheme is very tight.
The game itself looks beautiful. It is possibly one of the cleanest looking titles on the Nintendo DS. Mario and all his rivals and friends are smoothly animated, and very vivacious. The backgrounds are bright, well-composed, and fit the series well. The musical score is very appropriate, with a few bouncy themes that even the goombas dance to, and some old favorites return as well. The sound is spot on as well, mostly because the game uses mostly the older sound effects recognized by millions, with a couple of voice overs from Mario stuck in for good measure.
The gameplay seems very simple at first. I blew through the first few worlds with ease, finding the three hidden star coins in each level. Some levels have alternative exits as well, much like Super Mario World. Eventually, the difficulty picks up a bit, especially throughout the castles. As you progress, you’ll find the game offers a nod to aspects of some of the many other Super Mario games, but more than anything, the classic elements are there, with just enough new material to make things very interesting. With many secrets to find, and levels to unlock, the replay value looks to be pretty high. It seems that the side scrolling platformer isn’t quite dead yet, and even gamers who’ve long given up on Mario should at least give the New Super Mario Bros. a glance.
Most of you probably don’t own a Nintendo DS. That’s okay. You can go out tonight and buy one. Some of you don’t know what a Nintendo DS is, and for that, you are dead to me. Get it, and get this game. It’s better than world peace.