The house that Mario built consistently delivers games that make it a joy to be a gamer. Mario has returned in a brand new adventure battling a familiar foe. Nintendo's creativity knows no bounds, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder will showcase for that for years to come. New powers, impressive level design, and out-of-the-box thinking define one of the best Mario games that Nintendo has ever released.
Bowser makes his return, this time threatening the Flower Kingdom. He takes over numerous palaces within the kingdom and twists them to fit his evil purposes. Fortunately for the Flower Kingdom, Mario stops by to talk to the prince. During these talks, Bowser decides to launch his attack. Mario and the Prince team up to reclaim the palaces and the Flower Kingdom itself.
NEW CONCEPTS BRING A LOT OF JOY
Nintendo demonstrates next-level creativity with Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Designers can have a hard time adding something new in a franchise that has been around since the 1980s. And yet Nintendo has given players that. The way that Nintendo has designed the levels around the Wonder Flower and Wonder Seed concept showcases what can happen when a development team puts gameplay above everything else. Whether the game features the iconic Mario pipes moving and sliding across the environment or the clever use of the background and foreground, gamers will have a massive smile on their face going through Mario's new adventure.
Almost every level has at least two Wonder Seeds to find. Mario receives one of them for finishing the level. Locating the other seed usually involves finding a Wonder Flower. When Mario finds a Wild Flower, the crazy adventure begins. These flowers can be well hidden, requiring the player to pay attention to the surroundings. In one instance, Mario has to fall down the right hole to get it; in another, he has to pull on a handle to get the flower to pop out. Once Mario touches the Wonder Flower, the look and feel of the stage completely changes. In some instances, it becomes a psychedelic playground. Another example features piranha plants performing a musical number for Mario as he races across the screen. Nintendo has created much variety, so players must find as many as possible to experience some of these wild ideas.
PASSIVE MULTIPLAYER CHANGES THE EXPERIENCE
Super Mario Bros. Wonder has six different worlds and a general hub world connecting everything. The locales vary from mountainous areas to deserts, mines, and more. Each world has several different levels to go through and some optional content. At times, the hub world appears semi-open, allowing players to clear them in any order as long as Mario has the required number of seeds. Optional content includes badge challenges, a puzzle plaza, a store to use flower coins, and more. Each world also features a mini satellite dish that controls multiplayer access to the game. One great element Nintendo added allows Mario to jump to any level without exploring the hub world. Hit the “L” button, and the courses available appear in a row.
Nintendo chose to utilize multiplayer in a clever way with this game. Once turned on, other players begin running around your world. Players run around in ghost form, meaning players can't interact with them. Inside an actual level provides a different story. Some of the best moments in Super Mario Bros. Wonder happen when running through a level at the same time as someone else. Sometimes, that can make the difference between clearing a mission or restarting the area.
When Mario dies in the game, he turns into a ghost. At that point, Mario has approximately five seconds to revive himself. This can happen in a couple of different ways. The first way involves other players on that stage at the same time. As a ghost, Mario must fly over to them, touch them, and revive himself. If there aren't any other players on the course, Mario can also touch an active standee, which will revive him. Mario can place a standee at almost any location in a level. The standees serve a dual purpose, showcasing Mario has been there and being a point of contact for those players looking to revive themselves. A strategically placed standee can help everyone, so carefully consider where to put them in the level. Super Mario Bros. Wonder also has local multiplayer to enjoy the madness with three other friends.
NEW POWER-UPS BRING FUN EXPERIENCES
The gameplay and different power-ups throughout the game help Mario's new adventure shine. The game includes standard power-ups such as mushrooms, fire flowers, and stars. The new power-ups take the action to the next level. One power-up that Nintendo has been showcasing revolves around Elephant Mario. This power-up features unique gameplay, such as shooting water out of the elephant's trunk or hitting enemies with that trunk to send them flying off the screen. The different animations for Elephant Mario, such as squeezing in a pipe, will give anyone a laugh. Those little details that Nintendo adds to their mainline games go a long way to adding excitement.
In addition to Mario, Nintendo has added other popular characters. Character selection includes Luigi, Peach, Daisy, different colored Toads, different colored Yoshis, and Nabbit. The best character for the job will depend on the strategy employed. For example, Yoshi and Nabbit will not take any damage. The trade-off here means those characters can not use any of the game's cool power-ups. It forces the player to think about the best strategy, utilizing the power-ups in the game or going through it with an invincible character.
ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE GAMES OF THE YEAR
In addition to the power-ups and everything else mentioned in this review, Nintendo has also introduced badges. These badges give Mario an extra edge in clearing a level. Some of the badges include using a hat as a parachute or crouching and charging up power to jump higher than usual. More passive badges include earning coins for defeating enemies or adding blocks to a course to try and make it easier. Mario can only use one badge at a time, another way to completely change the gameplay experience.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder features the most imagination and creativity in a game in quite a long time. Nintendo has a way of inserting this magic into their games where the player feels complete joy going through the adventure. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will most likely get the Game of the Year nod, but Super Mario Bros. Wonder deserves to be in the discussion. Nintendo has given gamers one of the best Mario games ever and continues to deliver experiences no other studio can.
Rating: 10/10 Specs
Brandon Hofer is a California-based writer who covers the entertainment industry. More specifically, Brandon has covered the gaming industry since 2006, attending and covering the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) every year. Brandon has also attended the Games Developer Conference, Penny Arcade Expo, and various events put on by publishers and developers. Brandon has worked with numerous studios, including Xbox Game Studios, PlayStation, Nintendo, Ubisoft, THQ, Activision, Electronic Arts, and more. Over the years, working with those studios has also allowed Brandon to work with iconic franchises such as the NFL, WWE, and the UFC. Thanks to that experience, Brandon also covers what goes on in the world of sports entertainment, primarily WWE. Brandon's work has appeared on MSN, Muck Rack, Flipboard, GameCrate, Wealth of Geeks, and more.