New, New Super Mario Bros: Needs Moar "New"
(Inspired by an IGN Blog Challenge
My obsession with Mario games is likely worthy of a restraining order. And though they say love is blind, I feel my ability to assess the quality of Mario titles is still fairly well intact. (Mario can always hide from me in Delfino Plaza if my stalking gets too out of hand.)
Aside from the blunder that is Sunshine
, the Mario franchise has gotten better with age, culminating in the masterpiece that was Super Mario Galaxy
. Yet in the midst of the some of the greatest Mario games to date, I've longed for the simple "Saturday Morning" enjoyment that can only come from the NES titles of yore. You can imagine my delight, then, when I learned of New Super Mario Bros Wii!
The prophecy that this game would be Mario 3
for a new generation was perfectly realized. No, it was more than 'perfectly realized'. This game exceeded all reasonable expectations. The multiplayer aspect was brilliantly implemented to add a magnificent new dimension of strategy (and aggravation) to the gameplay. The combination of old and new power-ups struck a nice balance, and matched the game's level-design well (unlike a certain Frog Suit). Most importantly, the addition of Star Coins made this game challenging for the insane completionists like me, without alienating casual players who just wanted to beat the game. This being said, I think New Super Mario Bros
is an easy addition to Nintendo's win-column.
Now Nintendo, as any smart company would do, has presented us with two new NSMB titles for 2012, one for 3DS and an implied launch title for Wii U. It's not news to anyone that most sequels are not quite as great as their predecessors (especially when it follows closely on the heels of the original) so there is naturally cause for some apprehension. I'm certainly not worried about NSMB becoming Nintendo's Call of Duty
, but I am a little worried that the concept of a "throwback" Mario can start to look and feel a bit diluted in an over-saturated market of NSMB titles. This in mind, Nintendo must make sure they continually iterate the look and feel of future 2D Mario title.
Nintendo need look no further than its own franchises for a proper example of how to do this. Before Galaxy 2
, no two Mario titles used quite the same artistic style, but that was perhaps a limitation of the system hardware. Today, we're living in a technological age where Mario is no longer GPU-limited to look like the closest approximation to his box art. Would changing the appearance of such an iconic character and the well-established Mushroom Kingdom be too big of a slap in the face for fans? I would argue not. After all, it has worked just fine for Link... No one playing Zelda asks who the eff that pointy-eared guy is. Even though Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom are pretty solidly defined, I would challenge Nintendo to push the design envelope, specifically, in toning down the "cartoonism" of NSMB titles.
The other thing I'd like to see Nintendo break is the repetitive one-plane (left-to right / bottom-to-top) level design. Galaxy
(1 & 2) had some really interesting 3D transitions within 2D-levels, for example, around a corner with a graceful 90-degree camera swing, or a smooth rotation around a pill-shaped planet. Dare to break the confines of a one-plane existence with NSMB, Nintendo! This will bring 2D Mario to life without jeopardizing the simplicity of a 2D game.
As far as WiiU-specific features, just... don't. I'm okay with a quick flick of the wrist to use a propeller cap, but that doesn't translate to the tablet, especially if you're playing without a TV. No one wants to shake the screen they're playing on.
Other than that, don't change a thing. The co-op gameplay was fantastic, and the elegant simplicity of recreating a Mario 3
-like experience is exactly where a 2D Mario title needs to be. Now just take what was already a great success and bring it to life with nicer visuals and 2D gameplay in a 3D world and I'll be first in line to buy it. And while I'm distracted with this game, Mario will have enough time to escape back to Delfino Plaza.
Readers: What are your thoughts? Did you play New Super Mario Brothers
? What do you want to see out of a future NSMB title?
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