Super Mario Bros Wonder review: Spectacularity and reinvention

Napoli-Milan: dove vedere la partita?

The wonder is in the name, let’s see in our review if Super Mario Bros Wonder also proves its title in facts (spoiler: yes)

Fans of yesterday’s Big N and lovers of Nintendo Switch of the last hour, here we are: with the review today the console takes its first steps towards sunset, because since our preview we have understood how much Super Mario Bros Wonder was the swan song for the hybrid of (pun not intended, not in the first paragraph at least) wonders. A little surprising, when you think about it, the choice not to keep a similar title aside for the next console: Super Paper Mario, after all, was released on Wii despite being conceived for GameCube. To what do we owe this immense pleasure?

Let’s face it: we will probably never know. Even though the writer is salivating at the idea of ​​getting his hands on the remake of Super Mario RPG next month, however, it is undeniable that on this platform the atmosphere of “Nintendo 3DS in 2017” can be felt. Yes, “and yet”. Yet, one might say, the game shows so much imagination that it is the most creative in recent years. How many years, then, will be a matter of debate. As for us, in terms of “fantasy” linked to game design, we would venture New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS in 2006. In terms of pure imagination, see World on Super NES directly.

Flourishing relationships with the neighborhood | Super Mario Bros Wonder review

The incipit of plot with which Super Mario Bros Wonder opens is the most basic thing that can pave the way for the review. Our heroes visit the neighbor Kingdom of Flowers for a diplomatic meeting with the Principe Florian; Bowser crashes during the public display of the Wonder Flower and uses the latter’s effects to merge with the prince’s castle, thus becoming a flying living fortress. Now that Bowser Castello sows (literally) chaos, it’s up to the player to pull out the weeds. Note: basic. But, like the ratatouille that broke Anton Ego’s heart, we cannot deny that such a simple dish is served with all the charisma of the April film.

The developers have in fact realized that the impact of a film aimed at bringing new groups of fans closer to Nintendo consoles has a side effect: the need to distract them from the (in comparison, let it be clear) plastic and glassy look of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. Perhaps this is also why we have almost never seen anything like this.”vivo” a world of a mustachioed platformer (without “almost” if we limit ourselves to side-scrolling). From Poplins on the map to talking flowers in the levels, the Talking NPCs that populate the game world bring the adventure to role-playing game levels, elevating everything to the charm of a 3D adventure. We will touch on this comparison again later.

Super Mario Bros Wonder review: Spectacularity and reinvention

Unusual novelties, solid foundations | Super Mario Bros Wonder review

What to expect from gameplay? If this is your first mustache platformer, welcome to the sunlight: we’ll summarize the basics in as few words as possible. In reaching the finish line proceeding (usually) from left to right, you will have to come to terms with an inconvenient truth for most: you are mostly defenseless. Unlike a random Disney Illusion Island, however, you will be able to collect power-ups to take and inflict blows, as well as jump higher (run-up and inertia permitting). For the rest, you will have to jump on the enemies’ heads to give them the welcome. As a rule, the magic of the series is all there.

And even if this is your first Mario, don’t expect to be able to move on to the predecessors lightly. In terms of level design, if we can afford to pass for heretics in the eyes of long-time fans, this episode does not only teach exponents of the genre; the heights of the game are here to prick the ears of the rest of the series as well. There is a lot of inspiration drawn from the online levels of His Majesty Maker 2; and after years of “kyokan” administered drop by drop by Shigeru Miyamoto’s school of thought, the beneficial influence of fan creativity is truly very, very difficult to ignore. Hoping it still is.

Super Mario Bros Wonder review: Spectacularity and reinvention

Ignorant elephant and other stories | Super Mario Bros Wonder review

Of the power-up classics we already know everything: a Super Mushroom to destroy blocks from below and (with a ground slam) from above, as well as take a hit; a Fire Flower to throw, well, bouncing fireballs; it’s a Super Stella to be “super” while it lasts. What’s new? Well, the Elephant shape we have already seen it in all its forms, thanks to its emblematic role in the entire game: a trunk to hit enemies and a size to overtake even ditches as wide as two coins while running. With the Bubble flower we can instead launch bubbles with which to engulf the enemies, capable of crossing walls and pushing us upwards if we intercept them ourselves in flight.

Ironically the other newcomer, the Auger Mushroomhe only shows up after completing the third world, i.e. when the player is given the opportunity to tackle the remaining worlds in any order. Which is quite strange, considering that the demo tested in Milan cleverly anticipated the introductory level of the power-up, bringing it to the first world. Be that as it may, very little of this is of use to the less experienced players who will face the adventure as the Colorful Yoshis or of Ruboniglio: these characters, being immune to direct damage beyond a dangerous push, represent the “easy mode” of the game, and as such they do not have access to the areas that require upgrades.

Super Mario Bros Wonder review: Spectacularity and reinvention

Medal OF Valor | Super Mario Bros Wonder review

Do you remember that comparison we were talking about before? Because he is with her Play that comes to life: yes, this is “a 2D Mario that plays like a 3D Mario”, the exact opposite of how Nintendo itself described 3D Land and 3D World. Once you have passed the very first levels, a mechanic takes over to personalize the experience like never before. There are three types: the Action Pinsfor example, fall into the category that provides the player with particular skills, such as a glide with which to adjust the shot with each jump or a tendril with which to improvise Spider-Man (“Nintendo chose violence!”).

Then we have the Boost Pins, which mostly alter the functioning of the level itself: rewards with jumping to the rhythm of the music, Super Mushroom at the start of the stage, etc. Finally we have the Professional Pins, that is, a version of the Action Pins more aimed at veterans. Their dubious usefulness borders on infamy, even bothering the Spring Mushroom from Super Mario Galaxy. They don’t exist for nothing specific levels in which to forcefully use the Professional Pins, in which to obtain the Pin in question if we do not already have it. Everything counts for the completion of the game; what matters most, for us, however, remains thecolossal impact of this new gameplay feature, which we would absolutely like to see again in the future.

Super Mario Bros Wonder review: Spectacularity and reinvention

“Luigi, what was in those Flowers?” | Super Mario Bros Wonder review

Let’s talk for a moment about the star of the first trailer, rather: that Wonder Flower who single-handedly stole the show in that fateful Nintendo Direct in June. Once touched, this item throws out the window all the rules established in the level up to that point, altering the level design entirely for a digression that ranges from simple creative fun through to the actual challenge to the player. We are talking, for example, about the cosmic clones from the aforementioned Galaxy who repeat our character’s every movement in deferred form (and made dangerous by their toxic touch). On the flying ships (which, yes, exist here too), however, a menacing Bowser cannon shoots at zero from the background, Bowser’s Fury style.

Sometimes, however, we ourselves are the ones who are altered. We might find ourselves able to do crazy jumps, for example. Or, on the contrary, being transformed into Goombas would drastically decrease our mobility. In other levels it is possible to take possession of the soft platforms, thus being subject to the same fragility. The possibilities are endless, and on the rare occasions in which a level offers us a specific Wonder Effect already seen previously it is only to get its claws out with a much more aggressive design. The game surprised us in multiple ways, but if you’re curious we have a dedicated guide.

Super Mario Bros Wonder review: Spectacularity and reinvention

Freelance Astronauts | Super Mario Bros Wonder review

On the multiplayer locale there is a lot (not all, but a lot) of good to talk about. Functionally they are identical, but i playable characters they are not few at all. We have in our hands Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy (returning to a platformer on Nintendo hardware since Land on Game Boy), yellow and blue Toad, Toadette, green Yoshi, red, yellow, blue and, finally, Ruboniglio . Naturally, the first seven fall into the category that uses power-ups while the last five are those “for beginners”, but this is precisely their usefulness: Yoshi has more movement skills (fluttering jump) and attack skills (tongue) , and can be ridden in such a way as to diversify the options available to multiple players in co-op.

Not only that: taking note from Cuphead, players can revive each other, and moreover indefinitely, thanks to the ghost into which you transform once knocked down by enemies or obstacles. There are countermeasures to balance everything: high risk, high reward. Specifically, if everyone is defeated together (or if the living players fail to touch the ghosts in time) lives equal to the number of people holding the controller are lost. There are those who would think that this is a flaw, but the problem is rather different: the absence of a shot further away from the characters, without which dying from scrolling the level (read: without anyone’s fault) happens annoyingly often. One point for New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, we guess.

Super Mario Bros Wonder review: Spectacularity and reinvention

“Collaborate cheerfully” | Super Mario Bros Wonder review

We didn’t have the opportunity to test the lobbies between friends, but the component online of the title already sparks sparks even so. To put it simply, the whole community inevitably helps each other: sometimes by wanting it, other times by chance. When we are defeated, in fact, we can move towards the first available player to be revived by him or her. If other users are too far away and we don’t die instantly, however, it’s because of silhouettes: collectible hardbacks that portray the character used in the most disparate poses (and with power-ups), thanks to which resuscitation is always possible. When players place them in unlikely places to help others ferret out secrets, then, it’s immediately Dark Souls (in a good way).

Then you have the best of both worlds combining local co-op with online playalthough we can’t exactly applaud the limit to two players on one console to play with other users for a paid online service. The hint of regret comes…