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New Super Mario Bros. (DS) artwork

New Super Mario Bros. (DS) review

"Itís a tough legacy to follow, when you are the over weight, mushroom eating, fireball spitting, Italian plumber known as Mario. Super Mario Bros. hit the scene in 1985 and blew the world away. My first video game experience was Super Mario Bros. and thanks to its amazing adventure, I was hooked on a hobby that I have loved since. Albeit, a bit dated, the original Super Mario Bros. is fun at its purest form. While Nintendo followed it up with a slightly disappointed sequel, it was still more tha..."

Itís a tough legacy to follow, when you are the over weight, mushroom eating, fireball spitting, Italian plumber known as Mario. Super Mario Bros. hit the scene in 1985 and blew the world away. My first video game experience was Super Mario Bros. and thanks to its amazing adventure, I was hooked on a hobby that I have loved since. Albeit, a bit dated, the original Super Mario Bros. is fun at its purest form. While Nintendo followed it up with a slightly disappointed sequel, it was still more than enough to hold Mario fans over. Then the masterful piece of software known as Super Mario Bros. 3 came out and it became the sidescrolling king. Following such an extraordinary run on the Nes, Nintendo topped it off with the Snes release of Super Mario World. A few spin-offs, and a 3D edition later, the rest is simply history. There really isnít many series that can even be mentioned in the same sentence. Thatís what the New Super Mario Bros. had to live up to.

N = Nostalgia
E = Enhanced
W = Wow

Bringing back memories anew and adding enhancements made this newest sidescrolling Mario game an instant classic. While, Iím not ready to put it up there with Mario World and Mario 3, it can easily hang with those games any day of the week. The same sidescrolling action that fans grew up with is back and in similar fashion. With a few tweaks here and there, it felt like a solid addition to an everlasting series. But some issues that are quite apparent are the level designs and the lack of ability to fly. Personally, I loved the feather and Yoshi in Super Mario World, but both of which were nonexistent. The level designs are still reminiscent to previous Mario games, but it was lacking the variation and creativity I had come to expect from Nintendo. Fortunately, these issues arenít so much of a problem, where it knocks the game completely off the pedestal. In fact, NSMB is one of the best games this year. Sure, problems do arise, but itís extremely slick mechanics, coupled with the nostalgic aspect makes NSMB a pleasant addition to the DS library.

Certainly one of the most charming things is Marioís ability to dispose of enemies with a simple stomp. Mario holds numerous forms. The familiar ones being the mushroom that extends Marioís height and the fire flower that allows a flurry of fireballs being spit out. Just face it, as a midget, Mario simply does not cut it. These two items certainly help our buddy Mario. Another intriguing aspect is how Nintendo decided to go with 2 forms that are completely the opposite and extremely out of proportion. Mario can transform into a tiny version of himself to allow himself to get into tiny cracks and have incredible hang time. Then he has a form where he becomes a giant and can run through a level in short burst without any worries of mortality. Luckily, this item doesnít come up often or else the game would be a breeze.

Being a 2D platformer, there were plenty aspects that felt comfortable. The enemies come in many forms and on many occasions a mistimed jump would cause Mario to take damage, or if he is in his mini form, he would lose a life. The best parts are all the obstacles placed throughout the game. The player will have to do his best to make the jumps required. Jumping is an essential part of Mario games, and with NSMB, it isnít any different. Jumping from platform to platform or from block to block, the controls felt slick, which nicely transitions you into the game with its accessibility. Furthermore, the concepts of Marioís jumps are based on your timing. Jumping from a block onto an enemyís head can be a dangerous move if the timing is off. The platforming is also enhanced by adding a few spices that is not only familiar, but fresh at the same time. With ropes, moving platforms, fences, etc. it couldnít be more fun, as you jump, and dash your way through the levels.

Like previous titles, the pipes are one of the key returning factors that make this legendary series so mysterious. Entering a pipe felt mysterious and unnerving, as one never knew what to expect. This remains true in NSMB, as you could find a room of goodies, or a dangerous area that makes you question your decision for entering the pipe. Furthermore, the pipes tend to add suspense every now and then. On several occasions, the very thought of a pipe made me scream with joy, as I was waiting for an opportunity to jump down it. But my haste caused my undoing several times, as monster like plants came and bit me in the behind. You see, Mario games arenít just about playing the game itself, but to experience the very core of this universe. Itís to immerse yourself into this world where at times it feels mysterious, with moments of surprises, but one key aspect that is always a predominant trend is that itís just so much fun to experience the gameís ingenious sidecrolling nature.

As mentioned before, the level designs are solid, but it doesnít quite have the same huzzah that Super Mario had. But for the most part, the theme felt like a good mix of dungeons and regular levels. One thing about NSMB is that only half of the worlds are opened to you through the main quest. Others need to be unlocked through extracurricular activities. Each world contains a set amount of levels, with some being a necessity to advance, while others were more of sidequests. It was reminiscent of Mario Bros. 3, where you could literally skip a bunch of worlds and still beat the game. While not to the extremity of Mario Bros. 3, there are plenty of levels and worlds where it isnít a must to play. But given the gameís fabulous content, why wouldnít you?

With a multiplayer mode, along with mini-games, there are plenty of content to keep one busy. But unfortunately, most people probably bought this game to play the single player mode. While, itís certainly nice to have different modes to spice things up, the single player mode ultimately is a bit short for its own good. Despite this, NSMB does what its predecessors have done for so long, and that is offer an experience thatíll have you playing this game several times.

The music is certainly reminiscent to the older games. In fact, I love the old fashion theme music that plays when Mario pulls down the flag. Like the previous titles, the soundtrack is upbeat and energetic, which is a good representation of Mario. After all, it takes plenty of energy to jump so high and run so fast. Furthermore, the production value is capped off with gorgeous graphics. NSMB brings plenty to the table without compromising the core feeling of Mario games by drastically changing the graphical theme. Consequently, it felt polished with plenty of intangibles that add to the already amazing adventure.

Run, Jump, Stomp

Perhaps I am so stuck in my own little delusional world that I am so misinformed on reality that it skews any sane perception I might have. Perhaps I am overrating its greatness and the nostalgic content might have blinded me a bit, but hey, I had fun. We can all sit here and argue and nitpick on all the trivialities like the story or what it should have been, but in the end, itís all about having fun. That is what I had: FUN. Ladies and gentlemen, we are so wrapped up in arguing on things that wouldnít have been an issue years ago, so why start now? Just sit back and enjoy. Fortunately for us, NSMB brings back everything right about gaming and brings fun in its purest form. Just sit back, and forget about this or that and just calm yourself in the magical world that is presented.

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Community review by galactus21 (May 20, 2006)

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