New Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros. Review for DS

On: DS

The classic side scrolling Mario gameplay returns in the first original side scrolling Mario platform game Nintendo have created in a long time.

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9Out of 10
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It's-a-me, 2D Mario!
It's-a-me, 2D Mario!

It's-a-me, 2D Mario!

Mario has done a lot in more than 25 years worth of gaming. When he wasn't jumping and stomping on stuff, he was appearing as a boxing referee in Mike Tyson's Punch Out, teaching people to type, and taking on pretty much any sport Nintendo thought to throw at him. He has appeared in films, his own television program and has made millions upon millions for Nintendo. Not bad for a character whom Shigeru Miyamoto, the legend behind Mario and many other characters, defined as little more than "a middle-aged man with a strong sense of justice who is not handsome." Some have said, with fair cause, that Nintendo have relied too much on the humble Italian; that they have spoiled his good name with games that did not deserve the accolade or cashed in too readily by remaking old hits on new platforms. Whichever view you subscribe to, one thing remains constant: Mario sells. Mario sells games, sells systems, and remains an icon for gamers of all ages.

New Super Mario Bros. (NSMB) is further evidence, if any were needed, that Mario sells. It sold 500,000 units in only 25 days in the USA, at an average of 20 units sold per minute. That's a phenomenal feat even by Mario's standards. As the first original 2D Super Mario for quite some time, it has a lot to live up to. So it's a more than cunning move by Nintendo to sneak the 'New' into the title for this game. It's not quite a lie, this is a new game, but it is quite pointedly the spiritual successor to the franchise that made its name on the NES and SNES.

Mario has got some new power-ups this time around, with the addition of Mini Mario, Mega Mario and Shell Mario. They are mostly self explanatory, with Mini Mario allowing you to access very small nooks and crannies, Mega Mario allowing you to smash everything in sight and Shell Mario allowing you to break awkward blocks and swim faster. But Mario isn't all about power-ups, with the ability to wall jump and ground pound added to his arsenal of tricks for this outing, whilst Fire Mario makes a welcome return too. To compliment the main single-player game there's also two multiplayer modes: Mario vs Luigi for two players and a generous collection of touch-screen-based mini-games for up to four players. With these and eight worlds to conquer, there's quite a lot to get on with.

Naturally, though, the single-player aspect is the real draw of NSMB, and it rarely disappoints. Stretching across eight worlds the level design is consistently imaginative and challenging, with difficulty levels progressing at a steady and manageable rate. Each level contains 3 rather tricky to obtain Star Coins, which you can collect to spend on opening up new levels and bonus areas. Of all the new power-ups Mini Mario is by far the most interesting; as well as having the ability to get into places normal Mario can't, he can also jump much further due to his small size. The trade-off being that as Mini Mario you're pretty much helpless against all enemies. Jumping atop enemies in the traditional way has no effect and any contact with enemies will end in a swift and unforgiving death.

'The ability to Wall Jump adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay. It's perfect for reaching those awkwardly placed Star Coins and can also get you out of trouble if you fall.'

Mega Mario on the other hand is a much less interesting addition to the gameplay. When in mega mode Mario grows to the size of the screen and a bar at the top of the screen measures how much damage you cause during the short period of invulnerability. Filling up the bar will furnish you with extra lives once the effect ends, but, as fun as it may sound, there is very little satisfaction to be had in Mega Mario mode. You can sometimes inadvertently destroy key bits of scenery and it only really serves as a brief and rather pointless way of navigating more of the level in less time. Ultimately it takes away all of the skill and concentration normally necessary during a level, and a lot of the enjoyment with it. Shell Mario is not an especially interesting or useful addition either - only in the water, where it allows you to swim faster, is it of any real use. Overall, the new power-ups are mixed bag, with only Mini Mario adding anything really interesting to the gameplay.

The ability to Wall Jump adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay. It's perfect for reaching those awkwardly placed Star Coins and can also get you out of trouble if you fall. The only majorly disappointing aspect of the gameplay is the lack of any challenging bosses. Each world has a tower and castle level, with an easier and harder boss respectively. Yet, with the exception of a couple of occasions, these are often short-lived encounters. If you're playing as Fire Mario many bosses will take a matter of seconds to defeat, and 'harder' bosses can often be beaten with little effort. Boss battles needn't be impossibly hard, but it would have been nice to see the challenge and variety seen in the level design carried over to the boss battles too. As much as I criticise, I'm merely pointing out weaknesses in an otherwise top class platformer.

The world designs are excellent

The world designs are excellent

Visually NSMB is a perfect blend of 2D/3D graphics, with the typical visual flair we have come to expect from Nintendo's flagship Mario titles. With the extra power of the DS over the GBA, Mario is now a fully rendered character model and has many new animations to accompany his new move set; enemies also look more complex than in pervious Mario 2D platformers, making for a lovely looking game. The extra graphical power has also allowed more variety in the level design, with platforms that sway, shake and shrink. It's good to see graphical power being used to create new gameplay mechanics, rather than simply to look better. NSMB also sounds the part, with a cracking soundtrack and the all-round audio quality that you'd expect from a Mario title.

With a brilliant single-player game to get on with it would be easy to forget that NSMB also offers the multiplayer Mario vs. Luigi mode. Cynics might dismiss it as a box ticking add-on, but there's a lot of value in it. It's fast, frantic stuff, and although restricted to two players, is great fun with a friend for regular sparring. The mode is based around several looping levels with Big Stars appearing at random points all over the level. The first person to reach the target of Big Stars, as set before you start, wins. Each level is full of re-spawning enemies and power-ups, and you'll have to avoid both the enemies and your opponent's attacks to win. It won't have you playing for months on end but it's a great addition for those boring trips in cars, trains and planes. You can also play in a number of mini-games with up to four players, but they're something of a mixed bag and feel rather tacked on to take advantage of the touch screen.

Nintendo has once again saved some of their best work for their effervescent plumber. New Super Mario Bros. treads the retro platformer line beautifully, adding just enough originality and imagination to the mix. Gameplay is perfectly balanced, always satisfying and will keep you coming back for more. If you've just picked up a DS Lite, or have been a DS owner since the beginning, this is a game that you really must own. It represents the very best of Nintendo and is a perfect handheld title.

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david_kerr7's Avatar

david_kerr7@ wyp100

I gave in my PSP to get the DS with New Super Mario Bros and i haven`t regretted it at all.
Posted 03:31 on 04 January 2007
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Heather@ wyp100

I got this game for my DS two days ago, my mum said I shouldn't get it but I did and it is worth every penny. I am on level 4 World 3. The only thing that annoys me is when you do two levels then die on the third and have to do the other two again. Mind you if it was easy then it would be boring.
Anyone thinking of buying this game I highly recommend it.Happy New Year!!!
Heather Aged 12
Posted 19:46 on 31 December 2006
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spartan64@ wyp100

First of all, Danny said nothing about the topic, which is THE NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. And Nintendo is doing what they said they would do, make great games, while still controlling the handheld market. This game looks amazing and im glad it lives up to its predeccessors. Ill definately be buying a copy for my DS.

P.S. I am NOT a nintendo fanboy! I prefer a DS and 360 combo. Im really more of an anti sony guy.
Posted 15:42 on 20 July 2006
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Danny@ wyp100

So what if the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are uber powerful? What difference does that make? Why do fans of a certain console have to use this power as a stick to beat them down with, and proclaim their console to be more fun due to its simplicity.

********.

Any game that will ever be made for a certain console will be infinitely possible on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But here's the difference. The latter two can also give you those high definition, high graphic epics as well.

You see, Microsoft and Sony haven't hamstrung themselves with self-satisfied remarks about focusing on fun. Their console can deliver those spectacular FPS and action epics if that's what the consumer wants.

But, if the consumer were to ever decide that simple, quirky titles are their bag (highly unlikely) then Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 easily have the power to do them as well.

For you see, hardware doesn't make good games. Good developers make good games! And Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games will be just as fun as the games on a certain other console, if Microsoft and Sony have their developers lined up right.

In short, certain fanboys of a more condescending type can keep their preaching to themselves. For the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 can go anyway developers want them to go.
Posted 18:46 on 02 July 2006
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wyp100

Just got this for my spanking new DS Lite and it´s brilliant - like sticking two pure, unadulterated fun fingers up at the rediculous next-gen graphics race
Posted 13:24 on 01 July 2006

Game Stats

Technical Specs
New Super Mario Bros.
9
Out of 10
New Super Mario Bros.
  • Good value for money
  • Great visual style
  • Superb level design
  • Lacklustre boss battles
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Release Date: 30/06/2006
Platform: DS
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Platformer
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 1,356
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