Which Retro Mario Throwback Is the Best?
In 2006, Nintendo took Mario back to a format that allowed older gamers to reminisce about the good old days while newer video game fans managed to catch a glimpse of what the retro years of gaming were all about. New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS was an incredible sidescrolling platformer that combined Mario’s modern arsenal of moves while maintaining a largely old-school gameplay design. Three years later, the sequel to that game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, launched on Nintendo’s current-gen console and once again managed to wow gamers new and old. Looking back on both titles, which modern take on the classic Mario formula is better?
New Super Mario Bros. brought the classic gameplay of titles such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World to the Nintendo DS in a nearly flawless package. Level design was intricate, and every stage in the game felt fresh while still retaining a bit of old-school charm. Classic enemies returned, and it was a total blast seeing Goombas and Koopa Troopas walking from left to right and right to left once more. It was a throwback to Mario’s 2D days, and because it hadn’t been done before in the series, it was very unique.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii looked to continue the 2D practice by offering new levels, new power-ups, and even a multiplayer component. The game started off easy enough, but it quickly upped the difficulty and provided a challenging platform adventure that did the first game justice. The level design wasn’t as impressive as that of the DS game’s, but each of the stages in New Super Mario Bros. Wii was still highly enjoyable.
Both New Super Mario Bros. games offered a multiplayer component of their own. The DS game allowed two players to take each other on in a star collection minigame. This mode was fun, but it was a distraction best enjoyed in small bursts. Although these sessions could get heated and competitive, the small number of levels as well as the thin novelty didn’t make for much replayability. New Super Mario Bros. on the DS was primarily a solo affair.
Alternatively, New Super Mario Bros. Wii provided a more fleshed out multiplayer experience for up to four players. The main downfall in this mode was the chaos that ensued whenever more than two people played. As a team, two players could cooperatively tackle the game’s levels one by one. When more people got involved, however, everything just got ridiculously hectic, and the game was harder to take seriously. Unlike games such as Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns, the co-op in New Super Mario Bros. Wii flip-flopped from team-based mode to crazy party game, making it harder to recommend for serious players.
New Super Mario Bros. stayed true to its 2D roots thanks to the DS’s button layout, which is a lot like the SNES controller. Every action in the game was mapped out perfectly, and power-ups could be used by tapping on the touch screen with your thumb. One of the bigger complaints regarding New Super Mario Bros. Wii was directed toward the game’s motion controls. Although waggling the Wii Remote wasn’t too bad, some gamers found it pointless and annoying at times, especially when shaking the Wii Remote resulted in picking up a partner and tossing him or her around the stage (or down a pitfall).
Both New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii had plenty of replayability on hand for gamers to sink their teeth into. Hidden stages, star coins, and multiplayer modes all rounded out both packages nicely. The Wii game’s difficulty was a little higher, and levels were bigger overall, but the DS game was more addictive due to its remarkable level design. However, because New Super Mario Bros. Wii offered cooperative multiplayer, the argument can be made that the game allows players to go through it two separate times, first going it alone and then playing through the game with a friend or group of friends.
It’s hard to pick between two games that are largely the same. Both New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii offer most of the same basic gameplay elements. And where one game slightly fails, the other slightly succeeds. In the end, New Super Mario Bros. on the DS wins out over its Nintendo Wii sequel. The level design is far more engrossing and makes for a much better experience, while the control scheme isn’t marred with gimmicks such as needless waggle. And although the game doesn’t offer co-op support, it’s hard to take the multiplayer in New Super Mario Bros. Wii seriously when it quickly becomes a toss-fest between friends. New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS is a standout title, and thanks to its amazing stages, superior controls, and novel originality, it’s easier to recommend.