The 'Shroom:Issue I/Review: New Super Mario Bros.
Hello, all out there in gaming land! I’m Monty Mole, game reviewer for the ‘Shroom! I’ll be here each issue delivering an in-depth review for a game, be it good or bad, new or old. For this, the first issue of The 'Shroom, I will be reviewing a relatively new platformer for the Nintendo DS: New Super Mario Bros.. This platformer came out in mid-2006, intended to follow Super Mario Bros. 3, making it the first all-new side-scrolling Mario platformer in over 15 years! Was it worth the wait? Let’s find out.
This time around, Bowser Jr. has captured Princess Peach and Mario must save her again. You’ll travel through 8 treacherous worlds to bring her back. Mario controls smoothly, with each jump and dash almost as precise as the player can make. The classic Mario enemies appear, such as Goombas, Koopas, Lakitus, and the like. The good old feeling of stomping, dodging and otherwise defeating just makes it feel more like a Mario game. For players just wanting to plow through the game, it won’t take long. Six, maybe seven hours. But there’s a whole lot more to the game than that. For starters, two worlds must be accessed in a special way; players just speeding through the game will skip them altogether. Also, three Star Coins are hidden in every level. Snag them to spend on removing gates to gain access to Mushroom Houses that contain extra helpful goodies for the plumber, such as the all-important 1-up Mushroom. Holding true to other Mario games, some levels have secret exits that open up additional levels. A new feature is the ability to save items. If Mario collects an item, say a Fire Flower, that he already has, he’ll store it and the player can access it at any time by tapping its icon on the Touch Screen. This nifty little addition helps avoid wasted powerups. At the end of each world, Mario faces the boss, which sometimes can be fun, sometimes can be a little frustrating. But the thrill of winning remains the same as in previous games.
Speaking of winning, there’s more to the game than just the main quest. By linking with another DS owner, you can play a Mario Vs. Luigi match against your friends. Pit brother against brother as each of you tries to collect Stars. All the power-ups from the single-player mode are there, so show no mercy! Additionally, a variety of mini-games are also available, both for Vs. and single-player play. Most of the single-player games have been recycled from Super Mario 64 DS, which this reviewer thinks is a cop-out, but there are some brand-new games in the Vs. Mode. New Super Mario Bros. is a great game to play with friends. Just hold on to your Stars.
As is often the case, sound is an element that is blended into the game, often overlooked. The background music for each of the levels are remixes of some classic Mario titles. The general collection of Mario’s hoots and hollers are thrown in, too. It certainly adds some spice to the nonstop platforming action. You’ll hear more than a few goofy, happy sound effects as you progress through the game, be it stomping a Goomba, or collecting a Super Mushroom, the ambiance of noises and music give life to the game.
Gone are the days of the plumber being portrayed in an 8-bit, pixelly render. Mario’s a full 3D model in this game, as are his enemies and allies. The animation flows very smoothly, from Lakitu’s swooping attacks to the plumber’s spiraling Triple Jump. The background elements add depth to the game – sun-baked sand blows in one world, snow falls in another, Sometimes, especially when Mario gets a Mega Mushroom, polygons can clearly be seen, but it’s nothing the average gamer will lose sleep about.
Unfortunately, once most platformers are done with, there’s not much to get you to go through it again. Star Coins are an attractive lure, and you can buy different backgrounds for the Touch Screen with those you have left over after paying to remove obstacles. Unlocking and completing each level could take some time, but if you already did everything the first time through, you might not feel like doing it again. However, this only holds true for the single-player version. The multi-player retains its polish match after match. And of course you can try and beat your high scores in mini-games.
New Super Mario Bros. is a must-try for DS owners. At the very least it’s worth a rent. True Mario fans will like the classic platformer-style this game offers, and players newer to the series will enjoy the mini-games and multi-player mode. The gameplay is superb, the sound is great, the replay value leaves something to be desired, however, the game is one of the best out there for the DS. The main quest itself is huge, spanning 80 levels, so players looking to get everything will be satisfied for a while. Even more so with the added challenge of Star Coins. The game feels fresh and new, while still retaining the charm of the original platformers.