Nintendo’s most successful game for two decades was Super Mario Bros., which was outsold in 2009 by Wii Sports. Easily one of the most recognisable characters in gaming history, Nintendo’s mascot Mario is back.

In the latest game to be released in the franchise, New Super Mario Bros. Wii (NSMB) proves to be challenging, hours of fun, and lets up to four players play at once. To highlight how special the title is considered, it is boxed in a red casing; it’s thus one of only two games ever to come in a non-white casing.

The storyline needs no introduction to die-hard fans. Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser on her birthday, leaving Mario, Luigi and the Toads to rescue her, passing through different levels and worlds, all while collecting coins along the way.

Most notable are the 2.5D effects. The game is in 2D, while some characters and objects are displayed in 3D, which is rendered on a 2D background, resulting in a 2.5D effect.

Players can choose to play as Mario, Luigi or one of the two Toad characters. Player 1 is always Mario in multiplayer mode, and if a character dies, he will re-emerge in a bubble and can be freed if any other player touches the bubble. NSMB includes Nintendo’s new ‘super guide’ feature, which guides a player through a level, after said player has failed eight consecutive times; this feature will probably attract new fans.

Game control on the Wii is no different to the original games, with the option to connect the Nunchuck for analog stick control. It might be easier playing with the Wii remote alone, held horizontally. The remote has to be shaken to launch spin attacks or pick up objects.

Power-ups from the old games are still in place, with the addition of new ones, such as the Ice Flower, which freezes enemies, and the Penguin Suit, which lets you throw ice balls and swim easily.

The game can be finished quickly but with hidden stages and alternate routes, it will keep you coming back for more. It’s a must for die-hard fans and all Wii enthusiasts.

Written for Digital Life April / May 2010.