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Newly Rooted Mario

  • Jan 17, 2012
  • by
Hey, you know what we haven't seen in a very long time? That old, classic Super Mario Bros. 2D gameplay. Well, Nintendo has brought Mario back to his old-school roots, and it's as good as ever.

Yes, New Super Mario Bros. is a throwback to the old, OLD days. There's no FLUDD pack for this game, no interstellar travel, and there's not even a third dimension for Mario to traipse around in. The layout, fortunately, means that there won't be any of those scavenger hunt quests which can be such a pain in the 3D editions of the Mario series, and instead of trying to repeatedly go into a level to collect a star or a shine sprite, Mario is once again going from the extreme left side of the level to the extreme right. And in a feature which is an eternal delight to me, he ends every level by taking a flag down a flagpole and entering a castle.

The beginning cinema of the game finds us watching Mario out for a walk with his longtime squeeze, Princess Peach. Lightning stikes Peach's castle over in the background, and as Mario dashes off to make sure everything is all hunky dory there, Bowser Jr. leaps out from behind a large nearby bush to kidnap Peach. Really now, what did you think it was going to be? Princess Peach has spent her career defining the typical damsel in distress. Anyway, off Mario goes to chase Bowser Jr. across eight worlds, chasing him into every fortress and catching up to him just to have him run into a nearby castle. Bowser Jr. does this what seems like a million times.

Being of such vintage gameplay, New Super Mario Bros. is not afraid to lampshade its heritage every now and again. In one castle, you fight Bowser Sr. on a bridge, which is suspending them over a pit filled with lava. It's hard to believe the original Super Mario Bros. which defined the side-scrolling action/adventure game genre for all time is now 26 years old, and that many people like me who grew up playing the original will have to explain that reference to the original Super Mario Bros. to kids of their own. While the scene is slightly altered, the reference is unmistakeable. And many of Mario's iconic power-ups like the super mushroom, fire flower, and starman are dished out for the functions they were originally used for. Hell, when you play as Luigi in this game, there's no difference between the way him and Mario handle.

New Super Mario Bros. does manage to recognize and acknowledge its 3D series, though, and it's the first time the wall jump - a staple of the 3D games - makes an appearance in the 2D Mario canon. It's an improvement to the technique, as you now don't have to compete with a camera to angle the wall jump the right way. The ground pound also has a place in New Super Mario Bros. New are a blue koopa shell which lets Mario travel like a kicked koopa shell, as well as mushrooms which turn Mario into mini-Mario or Giant Mario.

I thought the Mini-Mario and Giant Mario were both underutilized. Mini-Mario is the more creative idea because it allows Mario access to paths he otherwise wouldn't get to, but Mini-Mario is a real pain to control because his jumps are more float than jump. Giant Mario is invincible, and I love how he can crush everything in his immediate path - and I do mean EVERYTHING, enemies, drainpipes, bricks, all of it - but he doesn't show up often enough. The most common newer power-up is the koopa shell, which doesn't do a whole lot even when it's charging because there's a very real chance Mario could bounce off a block and fall into a pit.

There are eight levels, but you only have to go through six of them to finish the game. Trying to get to the others does add to the replay value, though. Like in other Mario games, you reveal the path by completing certain challenges or finding alternate exits. The levels are reminiscent of previous 2D Mario levels, and seem especially deferential to Super Mario Bros. 3 in particular. A jungle and mountain world are in the game, but the rest include grasslands, desert, ocean, ice, sky, and enemy base. In the levels themselves, you can collect special coins which open alternate paths.

You've heard the major problem with this game screamed through to the rafters, and I agree with it: New Super Mario Bros. is extremely short. This isn't short like the 16-bit Mario games; New Super Mario Bros. can easily be completed in one sitting, secrets and all. Good thing for the level designs, which keep things from getting boring.

The graphics of New Super Mario Bros. are rendered like the graphics of Donkey Kong Country. The animation is complete, although not as smooth as I would like. Mario was always a cartoonish character, and I couldn't help but get the feeling this game should be animated when watching him get smushed or get off to a running start. The scenery is gorgeous and bright, and although the character designs do absolutely nothing we haven't seen before, it's tough to mind because it's such an intentional throwback. The rendering only helps.

Considering the love and care going into the throwback feeling, it's extremely disappointing that the original Super Mario Bros. theme was somehow missed out on. The underground music is the same, and that makes no sense whatsoever. The original theme is a ubiquitous piece now - its been over 25 years, and everyone knows it, and it's becoming like a famous bit of classical music or art or a movie scene - we may actually be starting to forget where the original came from. The sounds, though, are spot on.

The controls are the same, classic Mario. It feels a bit different, though, because Mario seems to feel more real when he moves now. The swimming is a real pain, and you have less control over it than ever. It's the only aspect of 2D Mario that wasn't improved in New Super Mario Bros., and it's possible that being deprived of flying may have been best because I don't want to think about the ways it could have been screwed up.

If you want to play old school Mario with your kids, this may be the perfect game to start with. It's new, but it's totally old school in every way, shape, and form.

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review by . November 29, 2008
This is a great re-make of the original Super Mario Brothers. It is mostly the same as the original except it has improved graphics and some slight changes. I loved this game as a kid and my kids love it now. I think most kids will enjoy playing it very much. There are so many different levels that it will take them some time to beat the game. It is nice also being on the DS since it is portable. Kids could play it on the bus on the way to and from school. Or when you go on a road trip to give them …
review by . July 03, 2008
Addicting, addicting, addicting. I find myself staying up all hours of the night playing this game. The other mini-games included are also amusing and a nice change to the pace when I need to take a break from the actual game. Highly recommended. A "MUST" for any Mario Bros. fanatic.
review by . May 24, 2006
I need to warn everyone that my wife and I are both old enough to have been fans of the orginal Mario... but we are still young to love the newest version in the series.       Sometimes you just have to get back to the basics - and that is exactly what happens with this newest Mario installment. Nintendo has taken the best features of the first three Super Marios (with some new features too!) and blended them into one great game.    Pros-    - …
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About this video game


Twenty years after Nintendo's biggest franchise was born, the Mario Bros. return in a dazzling, all-new platformer sure to set players' fingers twitching. In New Super Mario Bros. for DS, fans from Mario's classic days will see their dreams answered in this return to the Mushroom Kingdom, while a new generation of Mario players will learn what true platforming greatness means. The game contains 80 levels of side-scrolling fun across 8 worlds and features multiplayer support both in wireless DS single-card download play and wireless DS multi-card play.


New Super Mario Bros. for DS game logo
Mega Mushooms power-up in action in New Super Mario Bros. for DS
Loads of fun powerups.
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Map of the game worlds to visit displayed on the lower DS screen in New Super Mario Bros. for DS
Easy to follow 8 gameworld map.
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Mario facing Bowser in an underworld boss battle New Super Mario Bros. for DS
Boss battles against familiar foes.
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The storyline of New Super Mario Bros. is simple, but 100% classic Mario Bros. During a tranquil walk with Princess Peach, Mario witness a lightning strike on Peach's castle. Mario predictably races off to lend a hand, but no sooner has he stepped away from the always popular Peach, than he sees Bowser Jr. step into the picture and drag her away. As mario pursues them throughout both overworld and underworld, the appearance of Bowser and the Koopas shows that the list of fiends opposing him is longer than he expected. But Mario is not one to be put off by such things. Come along with Mario, Luigi and other friends as they venture into the depths of the Mushroom Kingdom to get Peach back once again.

Although New Super Mario Bros. is a modern addition to ...

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ESRB: E - (Everyone)
Number of Players: 1
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Console: Nintendo DS
Genre: Action
Release Date: May 15, 2006
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