Super Mario Bros. was the very first game on the NES, and in the opinion of many, single-handedly brought the video game back from the brink of extinction in the far-away time of 1985. Clearly inspired from the original, Nintendo brings us New Super Mario Bros., the first 2D side-scrolling platform Mario Bros. game since Super Mario World for the SNES, about 15 years ago. Mario and Princess Peach are taking a nice walk when her castle is struck by lightning. Mario runs to investigate, and the princess is stolen by Bowser Jr. just as he steps away. It\'s up to you (Mario) to get her back!
So how does it play?
The basic gameplay is very similar to the original Super Mario Bros., with some new twists. It is a 2D side-scrolling platform game where you run, jump, and with the help of power-ups like the Fire Flower, even blast your enemies as you try to rescue the princess from the evil Koopa King, Bowser. There are 8 worlds, similar to almost all of the other Super Mario games. It borrows some elements from Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and even a little from Super Mario 64. You can perform the standard run & jump, and controls are simplified to only 2 buttons, so those who never got used to the more complex controls of Super Mario World have nothing to fear. You can specify if you prefer the ergonomic controls of Y/B or the classic controls of B/A. The L & R buttons are mostly used to slightly scroll the level you are in left or right which can help you get a peek ahead. It can be used on the overworld map for a similar reason.
There are 4 moves borrowed from Super Mario 64: the double and triple jump (where you \'combo\' jumps to go higher and farther), the wall jump (while sliding down a wall, jump in the opposite direction), and the butt stomp (press down and jump while in the air) where you slam into the ground very quickly, and whatever is under you will take more damage than a normal jump. There are also powerups you can receive in a level, like the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower, as well as new ones like the Blue Shell, Mini Mushroom, and the Mega Mushroom, which is handy if you really want to do some damage. You can also store one power-up for later use, which can be activated using the touch screen. All powerups can also be gotten on the map in the form of mushroom houses.
There are 3 kinds of mushroom houses: The green one which gives you 1-ups, the red one which can give any of the powerups but the Mega Mushroom, and the mega mushroom house gives you a Mega Mushroom, replacing whatever else you might have stored in your inventory. Each power-up has a different level of usefulness. The Super Mushroom is the same as it is in every other Super Mario game; it makes you larger and able to take 1 hit without dieing. The Fire Flower is generally the most useful, and allows you to shoot out two fireballs at a time, which in this game, when an enemy dies this way, they turn into coins.
The Blue Shell is a new power-up where you have a koopa shell attached to you. When you run, once you are going full speed you start to spin like a koopa shell does when stomped on. When you are in this form, you can hit (and break) blocks you hit with your side, knock down or kill enemies, and generally wreak havoc really quickly. It\'s a double edged sword because, though you cannot normally be hurt while a shell, it is Very easy to bounce off of a wall or something and fall into a pit. Though a very useful power-up, you have to be careful!
The Mini Mushroom has to be one of my favorites. It turns you into a teeny, tiny Mario that can die in one hit from anything, and in order to do a normal jumps\' worth of damage, you have to do a butt stomp. But, it\'s a lot of fun because you can jump very high and have a lot of air and air control, so you can make some crazy jumps. It\'s also necessary to get to some areas of certain levels. You are so light that you just otherwise bounce off normal enemies. The Mega Mushroom is a lot of fun, but not very practical. It sure is great for bosses, though. It makes you grow to the size of about 2/3rds of the screen, and you smash anything and everything in your way, including pipes that you might otherwise want to go down. As you do this, you power up a meter so that when the Mega Mario effect wears off, you\'re awarded 1-ups depending on your performance. It\'s fun, but I only saved it for certain boss fights. And anything dies in one hit ... Anything.
All of the action takes place on the top screen. The bottom screen is used for a list of all the worlds as well as an overview map when in the world view, and during a level it houses the item in your inventory which is accessible via touching it, your high score, as well as any lives or other status information. It also shows your current progression through a level, which is quite handy. The use of the second screen is helpful, though it certainly does not focus on it in the main adventure. There are also 18 touch screen minigames that you can play off of the main menu. There are 4 categories: Action, Puzzle, Table, and Variety. These are mostly variations or adaptations from the ones present in Super Mario 64 DS. They are simple and fun. They all use the dual-screens liberally, and the control is exclusively touch driven. There are two multiplayer modes available. I have not had the opportunity to try either, as I have access to only one Nintendo DS. There is Mario vs. Luigi, which is some kind of level race of some sort (I am guessing a bit here) as well as multiplayer minigames. At least the Mario vs. Luigi mode has single-cart multiplayer. I do not know if the minigame mode does as well. I\'m sure these modes are fun, but I cannot rate them since I do not have access to them at this time.
How does it look?
The graphics on this game really are excellent. It uses the 3D hardware in an otherwise 2D perspective, giving it a 2.5D look, and it uses it to good effect. Most of the time everything looks 2D as it should, but that Mega Mario.. you can tell he\'s a bunch of polygons. It\'s really a neat effect, and using the 3D hardware this way makes for some extremely smooth animations overall. I\'m impressed, and I think you will be, too.
How\'s the sound and music?
Like most Mario games, this one is filled with simple, upbeat music that is really catchy. Some of the themes are remixes of music from older Super Mario games, while others are brand new. I never found the music lacking, and sometimes it was stuck in my head, and that didn\'t bother me. Overall, it\'s great. The sound effects are really good, too. Each bop, jump, shell toss, and fireball thrown has a distinctive Super Mario-like sound to it, and sounds great. Each character (Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser and Bowser Jr.) has a distinctive voice set that shows up whenever you are near them. Since I played most of the game as Luigi (through a code - search around it\'s not hard to find) I know for sure that his voice set is very similar to other games, and fits right in. They may have shared some with Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, which is a good thing really - it keeps the character representations consistent.
How much game is there?
This game is as long as you wish to allow it to be. There are 8 worlds and approximately 10 levels in each world. If you decide to blow through each level and get to world 8 as fast as you can just to beat it, you can get through it pretty quickly, maybe even in a few hours. However, if you meticulously try to go through each world, passing every level, and getting each and every star coin there is to collect (like I did), it can and will take quite a long time to get through. There are also those minigames and the multiplayer to keep you busy as well. It\'s a pretty good package, though admittedly there\'s not a ton to do once you clear it but to play it again. At least it\'s fun enough to consider it. Smile
How appropriate is this game for Christians?
Generally speaking, Super Mario games are pretty clean and this one is no exception. There are a few things worth mentioning. The first is that there are several ghost houses throughout the game, so there are \'boos\' that appear in each of those. They are no appreciably better or worse than the ones in other Super Mario games. One thing did kind of surprise me a bit. When you beat Bowser (the bad guy) in the first castle, you drop him into a fiery pit of lava like the original Super Mario Bros. had you do. What surprised me was that he didn\'t just fall in, but he kinda burned for a second, came back to the surface as a skeleton, and then sunk again. It seemed a bit more gruesome than I expected, but beyond that it\'s fairly clean.
Overall thoughts & Conclusion
New Super Mario Bros. is a very good entry to the 2D world of Mario-style platformers. Nintendo has produced another top-notch, well done game that is worthy of their prime franchise. The way they dealt with Bowser\'s initial demise surprised me a little bit, but if you can get past that and the ghost stuff, it\'s an exceptional production and very well done. Appropriateness Score: Violence 7.5/10 Language 10/10 Sexual Content/Nudity 10/10 Occult/Supernatural 9/10 Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10 Appropriateness Total: 46.5/50 Game Score: Game Play 18/20 Graphics 10/10 Sound/Music 10/10 Stability/Polish 5/5 Controls/Interface 5/5 Game Score Total: 48/50