New Super Mario Bros

By on August 6, 2006

Mario, princess-rescuer extraordinaire, runs, jumps, slides and stomps his way to the DS.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Ever since the original NES, at least one platformer featuring the Italian plumber has accompanied each of Nintendo’s consoles. I was but a wee gamer when the original Super Mario Bros was released. I remember that I was too scared to fight Bowser and my dad had to finish it for me. I’m a little older now and I figured that I could handle the Mario’s latest game on the DS.

The first thing that stands out about New SMB is that it’s so pretty. Technically speaking, many other games are much more graphically and aurally impressive but New SMB’s art style and direction are, like most other Mario games, on a totally different level. Having so little screen real estate seems to have forced the artists to (pardon the pun) think outside the box. Mushrooms look satisfyingly plump, Goombas look mighty squishable, and Mario, princess-rescuer extraordinaire, runs, jumps, slides and stomps with so much gusto that people who try out the game usually tend to "jump" with the DS.

Mario’s got a few new powers in New SMB including the Mega Mushroom (Mario fills the screen and can destroy pipes, bricks, enemies for a few seconds), Mini Mushroom (become really small giving access to small passageways, run on water, and lowered gravity), and- my personal favorite- the Blue Shell (can hide inside the shell and slide around like a Koopa shell). Those obsessed with 100% completion should make judicious use of the latter two power-ups. Overall, the new powers supplement the original powers quite well even though they don’t pop out that often.

Aside from the main game, New SMB includes a solid contingent of mini-games. Most are slight variations of popular games such as Pairs or Whack-A-Mole and aren’t very deep or engaging but it seems like they’re meant more for "waiting in line at the bank" rather than "waiting to board a plane". By the way, there’s nothing more satisfying to a geek than seeing the envious looks of strangers as Mario shouts, "WA-HOO!" as  he somersaults through the air to get a 1-up at the flag pole- while waiting at the doctor’s office.

Sadly, the game is now over. No, I don’t mean that I died and have to restart from my last save point. I actually didn’t die all that often. The game is really easy to get into and, occasionally, lacks any real challenge aside from going from left to right before the time runs out. Don’t get me wrong: the game is a blast to play but I was never too scared to enter Bowser’s Castle in New SMB. Ok, I was a little scared in World 8. And 5. And 6.

New SMB is a resounding success and a definite must-have for the DS. It scores on just about everything except as a challenging platformer. If you’re like me, that’s probably acceptable.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
9
So much fun and just enough originality so that it doesn't feel old.
GRAPHICS
8
Not too technically impressive but great art style.
SOUND
8
Nostalgia-inducing music. Sound effects fit in perfectly with the theme.
VALUE
8
Mini-games aren't great and the main game is a bit short but a great thing to experience nonetheless.
FUN FACTOR
10
Wa-hoo!
OVERALL
9
The best platformer for the DS.

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