Nintendo fans have been waiting for so long for a new side scrolling Mario game that they’d probably take anything at this point. However, the fine folks at Nintendo have seen fit to not only deliver a new proper [i]Super Mario Bros[/i] game, they delivered one that is absolutely amazing. The game screams old school from its 2D gameplay to its multitude of throwbacks to the Marios of yesteryear. This game is easily one of the best the DS has seen, and one of the most enjoyable handheld titles in years.
So what is [i]New Super Mario Bros[/i]? It’s a whole bunch of what’s old with a pinch of the new. You take your classic [i]Super Mario[/i] gameplay with elements from every iteration of the series and add a few new tricks. You got your running, your jumping, and your fireflowers. Mario also learned a whole bunch of new skills while in the third dimension. Now you can jump off of walls, butt-stomp, and even do the triple jumps from [i]Mario 64[/i] and [i]Sunshine[/i]. These new elements blend seamlessly with the old. On top of the new moves, there are a few new items too; the ability to turn super small, super huge, as well as become a Mario-Troopa as it were with a shell of your own blend just as well as the new moves.
It is this blending that makes the game truly a delight. The 3D graphics don’t look out of place at all, and allow Mario to be a lot more expressive in his movements than when he was 2D. The game is simply a delight to look upon with the controls being spot-on. I’ve heard a lot of mention of Mario being too ‘floaty’ in this iteration, but I played all the previous Mario games just to check, and the difference is not even worth noting. Mario moves with a weight to him, which is exactly how the control has always been and should always remain.
The level design in previous Mario games was an absolute joy. Everything was deliberate, with no cheap tricks to try to throw you off. It is in this way that [i]New Super Mario Bros[/i]. is a breath of fresh air. After playing [i]NSMB[/i], I realized how spoiled we were by the Mario games. Coins aren’t hidden in out of the way places where you have to check every nook and cranny. No, there’s a deliberate flow to each level. If you’re a clever gamer, you’ll see the way to go immediately. The levels are also highly varied. There are periods of the game where you get a new type of enemy in every level. The designs go from absolutely clever to downright difficult and each are a joy to play.
You might be concerned with difficulty and I can say with a level of certainty that [i]New Super Mario Bros[/i]. is exactly on par difficulty-wise to the other games in the series. You will die; A lot. But you will probably never run out of lives. The game is very generous with lives. This is not a change to the formula, nor is it a bad thing. The challenge lies in figuring out how to beat levels, not having to repeat section you’ve already beaten.
With brilliant graphics, gameplay, and level design, [i]New Super Mario Bros[/i]. drops a gigantic POW on the handheld gaming world. The issues with it are small. The save system is sometimes inconvenient as you can’t save whenever you want but only at certain check points like opening a coin-path or beating a castle, but was never an issue when I played through. The DS’ sleep mode comes into play here. The DS’ other features are used very sparingly. You get a nice progress bar to tell you how far you are in a level and you can use the touch screen to drop a stored item onto Mario. These gripes are very very minor and should not stop every single human being from playing this game. It is an instant classic and no gamer should be without [i]New Super Mario Bros[/i].