Nintendo DS Review: New Super Mario Bros
These days, side-scrolling games have been falling out of favour. In fact, there has not been a side-scrolling game featuring Mario since Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on the original Game Boy.
New Super Mario Bros. is a 2.5D game, where the play is 2D, but features 3D representations of characters and objects. It is a style not unlike Yoshi's Story on the N64. The graphics in NSMB are great, there are nice backgrounds throughout the game, and the presentation is very crisp and colourful. The characters are also very sharp looking, and don't appear blocky.
Mario has some new power-ups to play with this time. Besides the traditional super mushroom and fire flower, there are also power-ups that give him a Koopa shell, a mega mushroom that makes Mario huge and run over everything in sight, and a mini mushroom that makes him tiny to reach certain areas. It is also possible to store a power-up item in reserve just like in Super Mario World.
New Super Mario Bros. feels a lot like Super Mario Bros. 3. In fact the overworld is reminiscent of SMB3, with the way it is laid out, and also in having the mushroom houses throughout the game to get bonus items. Each world has at least one tower fortress, and a main castle with bosses, and some levels have secret exits that give you new pathways like in SMW. The end of each regular level has a flag with a house just like in the original SMB. Those who have played past games will definitely feel familiar to NSMB.
There are 8 worlds in total, though only 6 need to be completed to reach Bowser at the end to rescue Princess Peach, who really needs some extra protection at her castle. Each world in the game has a particular theme, from the grassy landscape, to deserts, to beaches, to the ice world, and to the dark lava-filled forest. Each level in the game has 3 star coins, collecting these coins allows you to open up certain Toad houses and paths that require a fee to access. Some of these coins are in obvious locations, but many are hidden in secret areas or risky areas that add to the challenge of the game.
The controls are rather simple in NSMB. There are no surprises for those that have played a Mario side-scroller in the past. Mario also has some new moves, he can now do a ground pound, wall jump, and triple jump much like in his 3D adventures. However, the controls can feel "loose" at times, making it easy to fall off edges to your doom.
Once again, mini-games are also included, these are mostly the rehashed ones that were found in Super Mario 64 DS. There is also a multiplayer mode in NSMB. However, it is only limited to the mini-games and yet again the Mario Bros. arcade game that just won't disappear. While these features give the game some added value, they aren't particular special.
The audio in NSMB features a mix of new and old Mario-style themes. The main theme music appears to be somewhat of a re-mix of the original SMB theme, though it does sound different. What is neat is that Koopas and Goombas will jump to the beat of the music, which you have to watch out for at times. The typical Mario sounds such as from the 1-up, and enemies are still there, and once again Mario has his usual voice lines such as "here we go".
New Super Mario Bros. has a relatively low difficulty level, there are abundant power-ups throughout game. Most areas will not be overly challenging, and the game does feel short and easy. Perhaps to compensate, the developers only made it possible to save the game after completing a tower or a castle or by paying star coins to open up a new mushroom house. At times it can be a slight struggle to save when you're running out of lives.
The dual screen capabilities of the Nintendo DS are not significantly used. The main game play takes place in the top screen. The bottom screen is mainly used to show information such as the lives, number of star coins collected and level progress. There is a progress bar that shows how much of a level that you have completed as you go along, most levels show your progress, but there are a few that don't do so to make it more challenging. The reserve item for Mario is also on the touch screen, once you touch it, it'll drop down from the heavens.
New Super Mario Bros. is another great title in the Mario series. Overall, It feels very classic but with some new additions to modernize the game. There isn't really anything spectacular or mind-blowing in NSMB, but it's just fun for old gamers to relive the past, and for newer gamers to experience a type of video game they might not be familiar with.
The gaming world has evolved significantly over the years, but New Super Mario Bros. manages to take us back to simpler times. Run, jump and stomp, that is what New Super Mario Bros. is about.