Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  May 14, 2007
Platform  :  Nintendo DS
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Why Mario Is King Of 2D.

The Good

It's hard to say what is exactly right about this game without providing the simple of "everything", and moving on. But it can't be that simple. Mario takes everything that made him so beloved in his 2D adventures, mixes in a few of his newer 3D moves, and there is New Super Mario Bros.

Mario is simply a joy to play. It's the plumber in his most pure form, running left to right, growing big and throwing fireballs, jumping huge pits and exploring underground tunnels. Swimming. Floating. Finding hidden areas. Saving Princess Peach for the 10,000th time, and you still have a reason to keep playing. All to a catchy musical beat, cheery animations, and some trippy new power-ups to boot. This is Mario back from the NES and SNES days, and after stepping back into 2D, he doesn't miss a beat. It is like wearing a comfortable and well enjoyed pair of old shoes. You know what to expect, but it's not a problem going back to it. The game is just incredibly well-designed and a lot of fun.

The game succeeds just because it shows why Mario was (and remains) king of the 2D platform game. Whereas Sega has taken Sonic to too many weird places with its title character at times, it ruined the fun of what it meant to be Sonic. Nintendo simply lets Mario play in new levels, without changing the character or motivation. He's a hefty little plumber that hops to do almost anything in the game. They just made sure the graphics were colorful and cheery, and that the gameplay was fun.

The Bad

The new Mario seems a little easy and generous on the 1UPs, but again, I've had two decades of Mario play under my belt, so I'm all too familiar with the game mechanics. The game also does not feel as long as Super Mario World, or as complex as some of the other titles, but it's forgivable.

There's not really anything "New" or innovative in this title. It's a "New" Mario side-scroller that offers nothing really non-gimmicky to do with the touch screen outside of the mini-games, many of which were already introduced in the DS Super Mario 64. If you've played a "Mario" game, you know exactly what to expect from gameplay, and know exactly what to do. Story still seems a moot point, but not many people play Mario games with epic quests in mind.

The Bottom Line

In a time where remakes are by far all too common, and more often than not nowhere near as good as the original titles, Mario feels like revisiting an old friend with a fresh coat of paint. He's the same game as you always remember with a few "ooh and "ahh" moments that won't wow you with the advances in technology, but will make you smile with nostalgia. It also shows that 2D platform games still have a relevant place in current gaming, where so much emphasis is still placed on 3D everything. The DS version of Mario is a wonderful showcase to prove that this genre is still very much alive, and still just as relevant.

Here's hoping this will not be Mario's last return to his 2D roots. One of the best games of the DS and of last year as a whole.