With the seemingly vanilla style Nintendo has been insistent on with the New Super Mario Bros. franchise, fans have grown deeply concerned about the aesthetical future of the Super Mario Bros. games. The 2D series has donned this simple style ever since the Nintendo DS’s New Super Mario Bros. back in 2006 and while the 3D approach to the classic formula was a treat back then, its lack of innovation resulted in franchise fatigue for many. However, while the 17-year wait may have been gruelling, the trailer for Super Mario Bros. Wonder gave fans both young and old something to look forward to.
While the foundations of what makes a 2D Super Mario Bros. game are still well and truly intact, five minutes alone with the game will immediately make it obvious that Super Mario Bros. Wonder is truly something Mario has never been before. Wonder is putting it lightly; everything about this game feels like something out of the ordinary. The world, characters, and especially the Wonder Flower moments make it feel as though it’s been ripped out of a child’s fever dream, with a fantastical Alice in Wonderland-like quality to it.
The Wonder Seeds are, well, Wonderful! A problem that plagued the New Super Mario Bros. line of 2D games was that if you’d played one, you’d played them all. There was nothing particularly special about each entry aside from a unique power up or two. I can’t remember ever saying, “Hey, do you remember that really cool level from New Super Mario Bros. Wii?" and I doubt you did either. Whereas in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, not only did they scrap the ‘New’ moniker (thank you, it’s not new anymore), but I can see myself years from now saying, “Hey, do you remember that level in Super Mario Bros. Wonder where all the Piranha Plants started singing and dancing?". And this is what the Wonder Seeds do; they provide a brief moment (often occurring approximately halfway through a level) where the game just goes completely wacky by throwing in a random gimmick. It creates memorable and exciting moments that will be remembered for years to come, much like levels in the 3D entries have done.
But that isn’t all to say that Super Mario Bros. Wonder hasn’t taken any inspiration from the New Super Mario Bros. games. In fact, it’s taken the best aspect: it’s smooth controls. Mario controls like Mario; Nintendo has perfected how Mario and his chums feel in 2D platforming games and there’s no need to go back. In fact, Super Mario Bros. Wonder has taken this a step further with the addition of the badges. With these, you can take a special ability into a level; you have standard control additions like being able to glide and creating a single straight wall jump, or you can go with something that will benefit you more within a specific level, like the dolphin kick. This mechanic provides strategy, allowing players to retry levels with a badge that will cater to their objectives.
- Memorable moments
- Smooth controls and the addition of badges
- You can be an elephant!
I remember one day in 2010, a few of my friends got together to play some co-op New Super Mario Bros. Wii and when I got home, I said to myself, “never again”. That wasn’t a slight on my friends (although we don’t really talk much anymore… probably unrelated), it was a slight on the chaos of co-op in a 2D Mario game. Everyone kept getting in each other’s way and there was too much picking each other up and throwing each other down bottomless pits (maybe it was related). It was for this reason that I played and completed New Super Mario Bros. U on my own in a dark room and I’d never been more happy playing a 2D Mario game. So when I picked up Super Mario Bros. Wonder and my partner turned to me with a big smile on her face, saying we should play it together, I feared for our future together. Luckily, you can no longer pick up and throw each other around, but that’s probably the best thing I can say about co-op in Super Mario Bros. Wonder. It’s still very awkward and cumbersome; the camera follows a single player’s character, represented by a crown above their head, and if another player decided to go in a different direction (or the crowned character made a bee-line in another), they’d be pulled back by turning into a ghost, giving them five seconds to collide with a character before they died… we went through many lives.
- Clunky co-op
Final Score: 9/10
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is just that—an absolute wonder. It’s sheer wackiness and crazy antics create many memorable moments, to the point where it stands out more than any 2D game since Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. It takes every improvement of the New Super Mario Bros. games and gives it the creative flair the series was absolutely begging for! I don’t think I can ever give a 2D Mario game a perfect 10 until Nintendo can figure out how to do co-op better but if it weren’t for that, this game would have an emphatic 1 and 0 next to its name. So if you’re looking to play this game solo, then I have no qualms for you; you just have to play it.
Thank you for checking out our Super Mario Bros. Wonder Switch review, thank you to Nintendo AU/NZ for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: