New Super Mario Bros. review
A New Dog with Old Tricks

The good:

+ 2D Mario gameplay brought back to life.

+ Excellent mixing of various mechanics from several Mario titles.

+ Colorful visuals and vibrant music.

The bad:

- The game should be called "Old Mario Stuff".


Adorn your chef hat and open your game developer's cookbook to page 1985, because today we're going to be adding a bit of the new to a lot of the old and the result will be called New Super Mario Brothers.

Two dashes of classic 2D Mario platforming, one dash of revamped gameplay mechanics, a few sprinkles of 3D visuals on a 2D plane, and just a drop of dual screen functionality.

Now we can all see what happens when you combine the original Super Mario Bros. with SMB3, Super Mario World, and Mario 64. The results are probably what you'd expect.

Let's get right to the point. If you've ever played a 2D Mario game before, you'll probably notice that this endeavor is pretty familiar. Very familiar, in fact. It feels like less a new game and more a re-imagining of all of the old games. This isn't necessarily a good thing…

The gameplay is definitely solid, sticking to all of the old Mario conventions of leaping from platform to platform with precision timing, hopping on the unsuspecting heads of your enemies, and tossing fireballs at giant plant monsters. One mechanic that is genuinely new to the 2D games is the wall jump; now jumping at a wall and jumping again will launch you in the opposite direction, allowing you to reach higher areas. While this is a nice new feature, it's hard to ignore the fact that we've been walljumping in other games for a very, very long time.

Which is the whole problem with the game. We've done all of this before. The game lacks any sort of freshness or originality. Maybe it's just that I've played all of the classic 2D Mario games to death, but I just can't help but feel that this experience is derivative. Which is another problem; the game lacks identity. I've played countless Mario sequels and remakes, but this game just seems to fall out of the normal bounds of what a Mario game should be. It feels… cheap.

There's not a whole lot to say here. Classic Mario in some new levels that look and feel just like old levels. It also doesn't help that the game is fairly short, with only 8 small worlds to trample over. Unlockables are sparse and replayability to open some locked paths is limited.


Gameplay: 4. Running, jumping, bouncing and launching. You know what to expect, and the game delivers on the promise.

Control: 4. Mario handles most similarly to how he did in SMB1, with some new moves picked up from other titles down the road. Not much to gripe about since all of the moves work as intended.

Story: 1. Completely unforgivable. The original games had more interactivity than this. All we get here is Baby Bowser (why not the actual Bowser?) kidnaps Peach and runs away. No text bubbles, no dialogue sequences, no Toads shouting "our princess is in another castle!". Beat some levels, beat a castle, save, and move on. I'm not amused.

Graphics: 4. Bright and cheerful, as is expected from a Mario title. Worlds brim with colorful backgrounds and scenery that seems to wiggle and dance with the music.

Sound: 4. All of the classic sound effects make a return, along with some revamped music. The package as a whole is fairly pleasant.

Lifespan: 3. Playing the game on the go is a must, since you won't squeeze much life out of it at home with a lot of time on your hands. Multiplayer is limited to short-range wireless, instead of actual Wi-Fi online play (lame). The unlockable mini-games aren't worth a peek if you own Mario 64DS and unlocked them from there.

FunFactor: 4. Whether you're a veteran of the series or a newcomer (all three of you), this game won't fail to impress with its solid gameplay and rapid progression of environments. However, the "new" in the title feels tacked on. Been there, done that.

Lasting Impression (Independent Score): 3. The game would have had more impact as a launch title in place of M64DS, since it's a throwback to the past instead of just a direct port of an older game. But now that the DS has been on the market for an extensive period of time, I expect more from the console. We've seen so many unique franchises spring up and deliver some truly new gameplay, but NSMB just can't meet the mark. It's an almost shameless act of "we put it out, you buy it" by Nintendo since the game does absolutely nothing to showcase the DS's capabilities.

Bottom line:

It's too little too late for the SMB franchise. It just doesn't make any sense that Nintendo would choose to build on SMB after releasing SMW, especially when the SMW franchise is so revered. A New Super Mario World would have been more welcome, but this just feels like an overstayed visit.

However despite its shortcomings, the game is hard not to recommend to just about any gamer. It's simple, fun, and is more or less a history lesson of classic gameplay. Welcome back to 1985.

3.4 out of 5.

Final score is an average of the seven above factors (excluding Lasting Impression).

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