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May 2005


- Great presentation

- Like finding an old mix tape and rediscovering what you didn't know you were missing

- Two-player mode extends gameplay

- New power-ups



- Those expecting a massive game might be disappointed

- Mini-games are simply ported from Super Mario 64 DS



Reviews: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS)

Reviews: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GC)

Reviews: Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS)

Review: Kirby: Canvas Curse (DS)



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New Super Mario Bros.

Score: 9.0 / 10


New Super Mario Bros. is like finding an old mix tape (remember those?) of your favorite tunes.  It's instantly familiar even if you've forgotten some of the words and you wind up humming along.  The tunes have lost none of their power; new insights might be gained; and they pull you back to a specific point in time.  In the case of New Super Mario Brothers the gameplay pulled me right back to the Fall of 1985.  As a walk down Nostalgia Lane, all the best parts of Mario games have been boiled into a great gaming stew, and spiced with a few ideas of its own.


new super mario bros          new super mario bros


Though the characters all get the 3D treatment (and paired with some great animation) the environments are all kept to a flat, 1D perspective, with most of the action moving from right to left as Mario flattens Goombas and encounters enemies from almost the entire cannon of Mario games.  Between stages you travel on an overland map, where you can access levels you have already finished or various Toad Houses that offer a variety of power-ups or 1-Up mushrooms.  It's basic Mario-type stuff.


But being "basic Mario-type stuff" should not be construed as meaning New Super Mario Bros. isn't worthy of your time.  When described that way, you should be thinking about the kind of platforming magic that Mario has worked in his other appearances.  Think about Super Mario Bros. 3 and finding a room full of blocks with a "P" block at the other side of the room that will turn all the blocks into coins.  There are moments like that in New Super Mario Bros. -- where you voluntarily repeat a level over and over to get all the coins possible or break all the blocks looking for a beanstalk or finding out which pipe is the best to go down.





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The game adds its own wrinkles in a few ways, but possibly the coolest is a giant growth mushroom that quadruples Mario's size to Godzilla proportions.  He can then smash through almost anything that stands in his way.  The developers actually encourage destruction by including a "Mega Meter."  When the power-up wears off and the meter is filled five free men drop from the sky.  Mario can also snag 


Mini Mushrooms, the results of which should be self explanatory -- Mario shrinks, which allows him to run on water, float during jumps, and  get into very small spaces.  The other new power-up is a koopa shell that permits Mario to spin around breaking blocks and wiping out enemies.  These new additions fit right in with the regular power-ups and proper management of them (you can keep one in reserve) opens some creative solutions to boss encounters. (Using a Mega Mushroom to bulk Mario up then jumping on Bowser is particularly satisfying.)


New Super Mario Bros. has quite a number of hours of play in store.  After finishing the game for the first time (and finding the "secret" to playing as Luigi), I hadn't even visited Level 4 or Level 7.  It's not that I purposely skipped them, I just couldn't figure out a way to get there.


new super mario bros          new super mario bros


Further heightening the play value is two-player mode and a selection of mini-games from Super Mario 64 DS.  The two-player game is essentially a deathmatch without any gratuitous dismemberment.  The goal is to acquire more stars than your opponent.  The good thing is that your opponent does not need to have New Super Mario Bros. because it can all be handled via download. (No online play, though.)  Though most of the available levels scroll horizontally, I couldn't help but feel a slight pang of remembrance for Mario Bros. (which has never really left us).  Overall, it's lots of fun.


The upshot is, you won't be disappointed with New Super Mario Bros. even if it doesn't use all the features of the DS.  It has everything you want from a platforming Mario Bros. game and then some.


- Omni

(June 2, 2006)


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