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New Super Mario Bros. (DS) artwork

New Super Mario Bros. (DS) review


"Everyone’s favorite hero, Mario, returns to his plumbing roots in New Super Mario Bros, essentially a more detailed look at the 1985 classic, Super Mario Bros. Despite being showcased in Super Mario Strikers and Mario Baseball, NSMB shows that Mario still can be the perfect piece in an excellent side scrolling adventure, and it brings a simple control scheme that allows for crazy level design. The plot and some of the environments from Super Mario Bros are re-used, but the game is significantly ..."



Everyone’s favorite hero, Mario, returns to his plumbing roots in New Super Mario Bros, essentially a more detailed look at the 1985 classic, Super Mario Bros. Despite being showcased in Super Mario Strikers and Mario Baseball, NSMB shows that Mario still can be the perfect piece in an excellent side scrolling adventure, and it brings a simple control scheme that allows for crazy level design. The plot and some of the environments from Super Mario Bros are re-used, but the game is significantly longer and has a pair of multiplayer modes. As a whole, New Super Mario Bros adds enough content to make it a new game, and not a simple cash-in.

Remember back when Bowser kidnapping Peach was an epic storyline? It’s that epic plot from the NES Mario titles again in NSMB, but this time Baby Bowser has captured Princess Peach. Naturally, Mario must traverse the massive Mushroom Kingdom to stop Baby Bowser and save the Princess. The story isn’t the most interesting one, but it gets the action going and quietly lets itself out of the way. It may not be or entertaining but it has a good sense of nostalgia.

Although Mario isn’t the strongest videogame character, he still manages to defeat a ton of different enemies. Mario has three moves in NSMB: jump, run, and butt stomp. Yet, this small arsenal of moves puts away every enemy. Throughout the eight worlds, no enemy is tough enough to withstand more then 3 jumps on the head. Their weakness’ aren’t because they are all the same though, as they change more then weather. You’ll see brand new enemies like a bird that hurls snowballs, a web-spinning bumblebee, and mad caterpillars. Of course, you still get to see plenty of Koopas, Goombas, Bom-ombs, Hammer Brothers, and Dry Bones. A lot of the enemies are somewhat world related, so expect to see caterpillars in the forest, fish in the water, and spider-infused bumblebees in the forests.

Therefore, each of the levels in NSMB is different and inventive. You’ll get to soar through the clouds, swim in the rivers, escape dimly lit caves, and move through lava-filled dungeons. Each of the worlds has its own theme, like the jungle, desert, or sky that change the levels in terms of visuals. Fortunately, it’s not just colors that make the levels different, but textures and designs as well. Certain levels have slippery ice to slide on, others have you moving along on a platform, and you’ll jump from wall to wall to reach the exits in others. They all require patience, timing, and a little bit of luck. Along the way, you’ll have to dodge shells, boulders, bullets, and whatever else opposes you.

Regular Mario may only be able to jump, but strewn about the worlds are tons of power-ups. You may recall that in Super Mario Bros, Mario could grow with a mushroom and shoot fireballs by grabbing a flower. These classic power-ups return, as well as three new ones. These include a Shell, Mini Mushroom, and Mega Mushroom. The Blue Shell gives him the ability to slide through levels opening paths and eliminating foes. The Mini Mushroom shrinks Mario to a micro-size, giving him a loftier jump and access to mini pipes. The opposite of the Mini mushroom is the Mega Mushroom that enlarges Mario, which makes him temporarily invincible. With it you can smash your way through anything and defeat any boss quickly. All these power-ups are implemented nicely, and help to keep the game from straying down a similar path.

Of course, these mushrooms also serve as ways to deviously hide bonus content. Every level has three hidden star coins, which are well hidden. But alas, you’re human and your instinct tells you to grab each one of them, no matter how many deaths it costs. When you decide to skip one, you’ll eventually to return to grab it and find the others. The star coins serve as the save system, until you beat the game, at which time you can save freely. When hunting for these coins you may find one of the many alternate exits, which will unlock a bonus level or a path to the Warp Cannon. This hidden content tacks on some extra value to the eight hour adventure.

In addition to the single-player, NSMB has a pair of multiplayer modes. The first, Mario Vs Luigi, is similar to Sunshine Battle in Mario Kart DS. The goal is to collect as many stars as you can, and whoever has the most, wins. Stars can be taken away by jumping, hitting with a shell, or spewing a fireball to an opponent. The second mode, mini-games, is a unique set of games that rely heavily on the touch screen. For example, you’ll use the screen to maneuver a snowball down a hill or draw lines for Mario to reach the stars. Both modes pack on some additional value and fun times with friends.

The single-player and multiplayer are highlighted with some excellent sound. Returning from the classic Mario games are the catchy level songs that have you humming along. Whether it’s the spooky ghost music, the dark castle music, or the upbeat tunes you’re sure to sing along. The music feels light-hearted and blends seamlessly with each level. It’s loud enough to be heard, but doesn’t overpower the sound effects. The effects are spot on, whether it’s the squishing a foe or the chomping of a pipe plant. Unfortunately, there is virtually no dialogue, except for Mario or Luigi saying “Thank you so nice” or “Yeah for me, Luigi!”

Also complimenting the entire game are some top-notch graphics. Despite being hampered by some minor frame-rate problems, the characters are excellently 3D rendered in the 2D world. Mario’s mustache looks excellently bristled and his painter’s overalls are lavishly colored. Furthermore, the enemies look absolutely amazing and feature a ton of detail, like intricate shell designs and smooth flapping wings. In addition, the environments are brought to life with a bright palette of colors, and the Mushroom Kingdom looks bright and cheery capturing the essence of the entire game.

New Super Mario Bros isn’t a breath of fresh air, but a breath of that old perfume that you still love. NSMB has enough new content to eliminate the cash-in feel, and after so many Mario sports games, it’s nice to see that Mario can still save the Princess. Due to its fantastic gameplay, beautiful graphics, and captivating sound New Super Mario Bros comes recommend to all DS owners.

Rating: 9/10

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Community review by ghostyghost (August 04, 2006)

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