Super Mario Bros. Wonder

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Super Mario Bros. Wonder (Nintendo Switch) – Review

Mario and the gang are back once again, this time to save the Flower Kingdom in classic 2D side-scrolling, platforming, Goomba-stomping, brick-breaking, and pipe-warping action. It’s been 11 years since the last 2D side-scrolling adventure, 2012’s New Super Mario Bros. U on the Nintendo Wii U, but Super Mario Maker 1 and 2 helped fill that void, allowing players to create their own levels and share online with other players around the world. Finally, in 2023, a brand new adventure awaits with Super Mario Bros. Wonder, now available exclusively to Nintendo Switch.

Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, and some Toads are invited by Prince Florian to visit his kingdom, known as the Flower Kingdom, which is populated by Poplins. As Florian is showing them the castle’s Wonder Flower, Bowser appears and attempts to steal it, causing him to merge with Florian’s castle. He also transforms the Poplins’ homes into prison cells and kidnaps them too. It is up to Mario and his friends, plus a few Yoshis, with Nabbit even tagging along, to help Prince Florian stop Bowser and save the Flower Kingdom.

The latest outing for Mario and the gang once again brings the franchise back to its 2D roots, combining it with gorgeous 3D graphics. 12 playable characters are available from the get-go, being of course everyone’s favourite plumber Mario, his cowardly brother, Luigi, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Toad, in either blue or yellow, Toadette, Yoshi in green, blue, red, or yellow, and Nabbit, with his bag ready to nab some goodies.

Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy and the three Toads can all gain power-ups, such as the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower, plus some brand-new ones. The four Yoshis can’t use any of the power-ups but have their tongue ability to eat up enemies and spit them out, carry power-ups in their mouths, flutter jump, and even allow other characters to ride on their backs, including other Yoshis, which comes in real handy getting to those hard to reach places. It’s also amazing and hilarious that he can still carry other characters in their elephant forms.

Nabbit plays much like the human characters, but can’t use the power-ups, instead turning them into Flower Coins. The Yoshis and Nabbit are also immune to damage and don’t decrease in size like the others, the latter of them doesn’t even flinch. The different characters have their advantages and disadvantages, but all can still meet their demise if all four players are in their ghost forms by taking damage or falling down a pit.

Many of the power-ups return from previous games, such as the Super Mushroom to grow in size, the Fire Flower to shoot fireballs, and the Superstar, which everyone can use to become invincible for a limited time. Some power-ups from past games may be missing, but brand new ones are now available, such as Elephant, Bubble Flower, and Drill Mushroom.

The Elephant power became a hot topic when the game was revealed in a recent Nintendo Direct, as it transforms the characters into anthropomorphic elephants that can spray water, and use their enhanced strength to plough through some objects and enemies. Bubble Flower can trap enemies in a bubble, is useful for catching coins, or can even be jumped on to get an extra boost in the air.

Drill Mushroom works similar to the Spin Drill in Super Mario Galaxy 2, equipping players with a drill on their heads to take out enemies, or even dig their way through the ground to bypass various enemies and obstacles. The character abilities and various power-ups, new and old, provide players with a wide array of moves to take out enemies and bosses of various shapes and sizes, get to hard-to-reach places, and then reach the flag pole at the end of the stage, much to the delight of Mario fans.

The game can be played solo or with up to 4 players and the more players there are, the more fun there is to be had. Players can select any of the 12 characters and swap to another between each stage. If in multiplayer, communication is key, and players must work together. It’s a big part of the fun, and it’s incredibly satisfying to overcome obstacles, take out enemies, slay bosses, collect the bonuses and reach the goal together. The collision between players has been removed, so there won’t be any accidents like in previous games, which does make things much easier, but some players may want the extra challenge and unfortunately, there is no option to turn it on.

The stage designs have a ton of variety and become increasingly more challenging as players progress through the game. Many familiar enemies are back such as Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Piranha Plants, and others, as well as several new faces, including Maw-Maws, Mumsies, and Hoppycats, many of whom have unique conditions to eliminate them. There is also a plethora of boss battles, both big and small, old and new, and again, come with unique conditions to take them down, and this will really keep players on their toes. The overall experience may not be as challenging as past 2D Mario games, but that doesn’t take away from the absolute fun Mario fans and even casual gamers will have in Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

Online multiplayer is also available. Well, kind of. You can play with up to three friends on the same level, but not actually play together. Transparent versions of their characters will appear on your screen and you can see everything they do, but nothing they do has any effect on your own game. It can be useful for your friends to show you secrets and compare your play styles, but this still defeats the purpose of having online functionality at all. While it’s still a fun feature, couch co-op is the ideal way to play with friends. It’s a real “Wonder” why Nintendo keeps evading this, but hopefully, they will consider proper online multiplayer for future Mario games, as they have with Mario Kart, Splatoon, and Super Smash Bros.

As always, the overall design stays true, with its bright, vibrant and colourful art style, and it is loaded with personality. The music throughout the game has a lot of catchy new tunes, perfectly fitting for the Italian plumber from Brooklyn and his friends during their wild crazy adventures through the Flower Kingdom.

This is also the first Mario game since 1994 to not have the legendary Charles Martinet voicing his iconic roles as Mario and Luigi after his retirement was announced this year. Even though he’s now serving as the official ambassador of the Mario franchise, diehard fans will certainly miss hearing his voice in future Mario games.

His successor, Kevin Afghani, didn’t have much of a resume before his casting and only began his career in 2018, but his previous voice work includes some fan-made projects, Arnold in Genshin Impact, and even some voiceover work for Nintendo Switch commercials. His first official performance as the iconic brothers does sound very much like them, but does have a slightly different tone from what fans are familiar with. Casual players won’t mind too much about the change, but will take some getting used to for longtime fans.

Since his humble beginnings in 1981, Mario is still going strong, showing why he is the face of Nintendo and a true icon of video games, and his latest outing is once again proof there is still a love and appreciation for classic 2D side-scrolling platform gaming, featuring hours upon hours of pure fun and being full of wonder, whether you’re playing solo or with friends. More Mario titles are also on the horizon, with Mario vs. Donny Kong, a remake of Super Mario RPG, WarioWare Move It! and Princess Peach Showtime! all due out very soon. Until then, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a must-buy for any Mario fan, young or old, with plenty of good times ahead. “Here we goooo!”

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The Good

  • Classic 2D side-scrolling platform gaming
  • Absolute fun for solo play or multiplayer
  • 12 playable characters
  • Power ups new and old are a lot of fun
  • Plethora of boss battles

The Bad

  • Charles Martinet no longer voicing Mario and Luigi
  • Online multiplayer isn’t a proper multiplayer mode

Written by: Sammy Hanson


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