Mario Bros. (DS)
When the DS
launched in 2004, one of the most anticipated games was
actually based off of only one or two still images. The main
image showed a gigantic Mario running through a world
similar to 1-1 of the classic Super Mario Bros. Beyond the
image, we were only treated to estimated release dates.
dates being missed (including the first one of January
2005), and after rounds of new hype, New Super Mario
Brothers received a name. Then, a short time later, the game
was finally given to the public. However, after so much
anticipation, and after a long drought of platformers on the
DS, does NSMB live up to the hype? More than that, not
counting the hype, is the game any good?
reality...Mario and plot, with a couple of minor exceptions,
don't get along together. The usual theme is that the
Princess has been kidnapped. The less usual theme is Mario
is on vacation, and then in the end, the Princess is
kidnapped. So, does it come as a real surprise that this
game is entirely based on the Princess being
kidnapped...this time, to keep things slightly fresh, by
Bowser Jr., instead of Bowser Sr.
of originality doesn't hurt the game. In fact, I'd say the
only plot device that could potentially hurt a Mario game
would be the inclusion of a real plot. After all, we are
talking about a game that is entirely based on...
nostalgia fans, this is still Mario at it's heart. In fact,
this is classic Mario in almost every way. We still have the
same familiar mechanics (with a slightly altered physics
system), the classic moves, and mainly the classic power
ups. Hell, we even still have the same map system of Mario
things down, the controls are as sharp as they have always
been in a Mario game. You can change the buttons slightly,
but you'll have two face buttons to use for jumping, and two
to use from dashing and launching fireballs. The d-pad is as
sharp as it's always been in moving Mario. Other than that,
you have start to pause the game, and you can tap the touch
screen to release a stored power up (like you could do with
the select button in SMW).
ups are mostly familiar. You still have mushrooms, flowers,
and stars making the bulk of the abilities you can use.
Flowers still allow you to shoot two fireballs at a time
that bounce along the ground. The stars are still your
invincibility power. However, in addition to the classic red
mushrooms (to grow big) and green mushrooms (1-ups), there
are now a couple of brand new 'shrooms.
One of the
new 'shrooms grants the power of super size. I don't mean
the big Mario of classic SMB games...I mean you become
nearly the height of the entire screen. While in this form,
you can run through almost any object (including pipes,
foes, and bricks), and you are completely immune to damage.
However, like when you use a star, you still die from pits.
This ability is mostly new, but people who played the Bowser
stages of Paper Mario (GCN) will remember
new 'shroom is the tiny mushroom. This one will turn Mario
into an extra light, tiny, and fragile man. While in this
form, you can enter smaller areas, which often times will
hold bonus treasures, and you can only unlock two of the
worlds by using this power. You will also descend from a
jump/fall slower than normal, and you will have the power to
run across water. The downside is that this is the only
ability that leaves you vulnerable to a single hit (instead
of reverting to normal Mario when you take damage). That,
and you will no longer be able to kill enemies by jumping on
them, unless you use a ground pound.
new power is the blue shell. If Mario grabs a blue shell, he
is treated like his large form, but with a twist. If you run
long enough to achieve full speed, you will slide much like
a stomped trooper shell. You will bounce off of walls, and
you will kill foes that stand in your way. You will even be
able to activate or destroy blocks that lie in your path.
However, your control will be limited, and you will continue
to slide in your shell until you stop holding the dash
new power ups, some old moves from various Mario games have
made their returns. You can triple jump, like we first had
in Mario 64 (a very useless move in this game), by jumping
three times in succession. You can wall jump, similar to how
some characters could in Smash Melee (a very useful and
needed power). You can also grab items and shells like you
could in SMW. You can also do the classic ground pound (hit
down while in the air) to break blocks under you or to
inflict extra damage.
new abilities are present, the game still plays much like a
classic Mario game. You have mostly side-scrolling levels
that you must reach the end of to complete. Each level will
have 3 hidden special coins that are required to access some
of the hidden levels. You also have a timer for each stage
you try. You will die if the timer expires before you reach
with SMB3, the worlds are made up of maps. Each map contains
at least one final level (boss stage), at least one tower (miniboss
stage), and a series of normal stages. You can find some
hidden routes to use as alternative routes around the
worlds. Last of all, each world contains a mess of toadstool
houses that will let you each 1-ups or power ups.
end, this is all quite like what we've seen in 2D Mario
games since the dawn of Nintendo times. While many could
argue that there's no innovation in this game, the simple
truth is that NSMB does quite well to show that sometimes
the best way to make a solid game is to stick with what one
knows...or to give more of what everyone wants.
downsides of the game play mechanics of NSMB are few and
minor. The physics will take a short time to become
accustomed to. However, the larger complaint is that many of
the levels require the mini-mushroom or the blue shell to
fully complete, yet these power ups are a pain in the ass to
classical look of Mario games have been retained in NSMB,
but with a twist. Much like how the Paper Mario games have
taken the simple 2D models of Mario characters and placed
them in 3D environments, NSMB takes 3D character models and
places them in the class 2D Mario worlds. It's an
interesting visual take on Mario, and it is accomplished
with the type of skill one would expect from Nintendo.
the best way to explain the visuals of NSMB is to say that
it's the next logical step in 2D Mario evolution. This
approach is just like one would expect from a platform like
the DS, that can handle Mario 64 quite well, but it more
suited to 2D game play.
have many similar elements to what Mario games had
previously given us. The music has the same fun and
lighthearted sound, the effects are the classics (coins make
"tink"ing sounds, 1-ups are awarded with the classic SMB
1-up sound, etc). As I said before, Mario does quite well
when he's not re-invented, and the sounds show us that quite
downside to the audio is found in the music. The music is
not bad by any means, but it's just not as memorable or as
fun as the original SMB soundtrack. This is not a bad thing,
or a good thing...it is simply how the game is.
some extras to this game. There is a two-player battle mode,
which is not even worth a mention. It feels as tacked on as
the multiplayer mode of Metroid Prime 2. It feels like this
was only thrown on in order to use the WiFi adapter. If
anything, this mode should have been replaced somehow with a
co-op mode. The idea of hitting each other to obtain stars
(similar to the battle game of Mario 64 DS) just feels very
played out and worthless.
also some mini-games included in this cart. The only problem
is that these are the exact same games that were included on
Mario 64 DS. The exact same games. You can now play them
multiplayer, but it really isn't new or worth trying. If you
had Mario 64 DS, then you can skip these games entirely, and
if you missed Mario 64 DS...well...it's still not really
worth more than a casual notice.
elements of NSMB are quite firm, the game has one major
drawback; replay value. Since the game is mostly linear, and
since it is one of the easier Mario games, you will probably
not find yourself coming back for more after you've finished
each level once. When you throw in how mediocre the
multiplayer modes are, and how the mini-games are quite
dated (November 2004, to be precise), you really will have
no reason to hold on to this game.
the 1 player mode is quite fun...while it lasts. This is
Mario as it was always meant to be; 2D and simple, yet fully
enjoyable and accessible by old-school gamers and casual
gamers alike. The visuals are great, sharp, and bright...yet
easy on your eyes. Lastly, the audio is pleasant and
enjoyable (even if it's forgettable).
So, in the
end, NSMB is definitely worth picking up if your looking for
a simple and fun way to kill a few hours. However, if you're
likely to have any sense of a memory, you will probably find
the levels too familiar and easy to give them multiple
playings. So, I'd have to say that this game is probably not
worth much more than a long rental. Given all of these
factors, I'd give
New Super Mario Bros. a 7.75 out of 10
(while I'd give SMB3 a 9.0 and SMW a 9.5).