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SummaryFour hours of constant laughter
The GoodToday I went to my cousin's place to play this game with another relative. We all vary a lot in what games we like: I am the retro guy with a soft spot for memorable stories, one cousin is mostly anime RPG focused and the other relative is mostly a strategy fan. However, when playing this game (which is part of a genre neither of us are really into) we enjoyed the most enjoyable four hours we had in recent history. Let me explain why:
This is the first Mario game (to my knowledge) whose main story is entirely playable by more than one player and also not two, but a total of four players can participate. Other Mario games (like Mario 3) had you taking turns at playing levels, but this time around you are all on the screen, working together or racing against each other. It's a great formula for parties and family gatherings because nobody has to sit on the side to wait for their turn.
Unlike the original Mario Bros. you don't have to start the entire game over when the hearts are gone. Instead you get either a Game Over and lose all your stored power-ups or you simply get a continue and five new lives to waste. Considering the difficulty of this game (especially when playing with others) this is really nice because it keeps the game going. Having to start all over is demotivating for a game intended for group play and parties with people who are not very familiar with the medium.
The story is once again kept deliberately simple, even for Mario games. The princess is captured and Mario and Luigi give chase, there are no plot twists and all the enjoyment has to come straight out of the gameplay. By keeping the story simple you avoid making the player explain the whole thing when somebody else joins in mid-game. My cousin was also trying to get us to play a Spyro game he had lying around, but because he was already somewhere in the middle of the story we just kept platforming in this game.
The level design is pretty good and is mostly fresh (or I just haven't played enough Mario games to recognize the stages). There were occasions where I spotted a rehashed map/reference from an older game, but we either had fun playing those sections with more people or we just had too much fun to really notice it. At all other the levels are fairly imaginative with some very interesting and challenging sections, all while keeping with a cheerful and colorful aesthetic.
I like the fact that you can pick up other players, it allows you to reach places you couldn't reach alone and during hectic moments it is often a way to make small platforms easier to cross. That would be the RIGHT way to use this ability, what we used it for however was to throw objects at each other or hurl each other in holes, lava, enemies or spikes. Why is it still a plus then? Well because that was the main reason why we had so much laughter, the joke never loses its touch.
The BadWhile it is fun to throw each other into pits from time to time, it was rather frustrating that we encountered a lot of sections where you require team work and planning that is simply beyond the average drunken family members can use. I am talking sections where we were jumping around and bouncing on each other's heads while trying to escape traps. The fact that you always bounce is really annoying and causes a lot of unfair deaths.
At first I really liked the fact that you can turn into a bubble and float to a team-member to be saved from it because it looked funnier than just respawning. However, the bubble turned out to be a very cheap escape from death when we discovered how to use it properly. We would just try a jump and if things looked bad we'd hit A and float to a buddy who was waiting for us. This also makes it a problem when you are racing against each other because players will naturally ignore you and go off on their own, but if they die you will have to start the level over again.
The Bottom LineNew Super Mario Bros. Wii is what you'd expect from a Mario game, platforming action with a simple plot and one or two unique features. This time around the new features are multiplayer and some new power-ups and given it is a pretty good idea to have multiplayer in a Mario game. The level design is of a pretty high quality again and you're sure to get some above-average fun out of your Wii with this title no matter if you play it alone or with friends.
A recommendation for this game only depends on whether or not you own a Nintendo Wii. If you have the system and need a game for it, here you go, you are certain to like it unless you really can't stand Mario or platforming.