Take this, Mario!
July 06, 2006

The joke review that prompted a Bacon hissy fit. Enjoy!


Sometimes you want something to happen so badly that your expectations soar. You throw away guarded optimism and instead expect perfection. New Super Mario Brothers is that kind of title; one that flat-out promises a perfect slice of retroactive insanity based on an updated old-skool foundation. In this, it fails.

Well, no, that's not exactly fair. If you mindlessly play the game with your brain turned off, you can enjoy the experience. But dare to take a peek beneath the brightly coloured veneer, and you'll find a game engine that ran out of steam long ago.

Tubby fat-arse Mario returns to once again promote outdated Italian stereotypes as he runs through the atypical smattering of slightly-differently themed worlds for some improbable reason I choose not to acknowledge. And that's great; all the Mario games have basically been the same game with cosmetic alterations, but have still managed to be a lot of fun. They've not done much to dig Nintendo out of the 'innovatively challenged' hole they've dug themselves into, but fun was still had by all. NSMB is more of the same with a smattering of new features that doesn't work.

It's great to grab yourself a power-up mushroom and double your size, allowing you to add extra lard to any unfortunate target Mario will land on. Throwing Koopa shells at unwary foes still provides as much of a giggle as ever, but the new powers feel gimmicky and tacked-on; they serve no purpose but to appear right before you need them. Nintendo have decided their players are incompetent enough to need their hand held throughout. Hell, they're probably right.

Take the tiny Mario power-up. This little fellow can increase on Mario's new(ish) ability to double-jump off walls, can squeeze into tiny gaps and even run across water. Whereas that sounds cool on paper, take a moment to think about how it will apply. Mini-Mario is useless aside from letting you explore new areas or get across obligatory set pieces and the power up will only ever show up at such a place. A thoughtful gamer will stop and look around, already having been tipped off that a special area is around.

And speaking of gimmicks, the touch screen aspect of the game is underused and pointless. Sure, this happens a lot with DS games, undervaluing the failing system all the more, but with a flagship game like NSMB, you'd have thought some effort would have been made to include it. They could have taken this chance to think up an innovative way for fatty to actually do some plumbing for a change.

The new 'Evil Mario' option is the worst addition, though. Spare the Koopa's and attack Toad & Co, and Mario will start to do things a little differently. Power-ups will not come in the shape of pretty flowers of huggable stars, but in bloody infant corpses Mario must devour. Doing this often enough will mutate our cuddly plumber into a tentacle ridden monster that wouldn't feel out of place in a Lovecraftian nightmare. Instead of chasing down Bullet Bill's, Mario's evil glare will fall upon Japanese schoolgirls and baby seals, ensuring that popular singer, Morrissey has added NSMB to his never-ending list of things he hates.

757/ Canadians
758/ New Super Mario Brothers.
759/ Post offices
760/ South-Easterly winds.
761/ Old Super Mario Brothers
(and so on)

Fun often turns to frustration, overwriting the enjoyable aspects that the game did have to offer occasionally. You need to collect special coins to unlock secret paths, but thanks to the aforementioned power-up placement give-aways, these are more of a chore to collect than a challenge. Controlling Mario feels looser and more floatish than in previous titles, ensuring that returning vets need readjust. And it's a shame; clever little touches like having the Goombas dance along with the background music means they could jig out of your attacks at a crucial moment. Of course, when you get sick of the sugar-heavy soundtrack and mute your DS, the audio clues to when your foes will get funky will disappear and you'll be left with a twitching target to try and dispatch instead. If only Nintendo would get a clue and start using popular licensed music like Linkin Park to soundtrack their videogames.

More of a shame is the levels themselves. Some of these work brilliantly, giving Mario and/or Luigi, his up-to-now ignored beanpole brethren, the chance to frolic in open environments that provide the chance to actually have some fun. And then, some of the more gimmicky levels don't. Dive the brothers underwater and see them lethargically stutter across the screen while faster-moving fishies swarm towards them with unpure intentions. The custard level is just as bad; the level is an off-cream colour when everyone knows custard is yellow! The sticky pudding dressing makes squelching noises and leaves stick tendrils trailing from exploratory boots, but at the cost of mobility and enjoyment. For every twist of genius this game exhibits is a broken and flawed link in the chain that detracts from it.

Sometimes, EmP slips randomly into talking in third person.

Bottom line is that a lot of these flaws could have been fixed with a little bit of thought and not the inane mindset Nintendo have adopted that any old crap with Mario in the title will sell. Sure, I expect New Super Mario Brothers to sell in it's millions, I expect glowing reviews from those unwilling to look at the distressing lack of evolution this title has. But I also expect people like me; people whose faith in a series is being steadily eroded. Happily, this game has yet to be released in my region, and I'm all the happier for it! Nintendo hates Europe, and we hate them right back when they try and peddle spoiled wares on us a month later than the rest of the world!

Could have been. Should of been. Isn't.

Most recent blog posts from Gary Hartley...

tristis_iranica tristis_iranica - July 06, 2006 (12:21 PM)
You should've posted the original one where I gave it a 2.
EmP EmP - July 06, 2006 (12:22 PM)
I no longer have it. you see, the plan was to start with a crap basic review and then add UNTRUENESS to it in patches and see how far I could get.

As was, it only got taken down because fanboys unfairly marked it.

What score did you give this version, anyway?
tristis_iranica tristis_iranica - July 06, 2006 (12:31 PM)
I don't remember.
Genj Genj - July 06, 2006 (08:10 PM)
You should have used this instead of Doom II for this round.
magicjuggler magicjuggler - July 08, 2006 (09:06 AM)
Are you serious about Evil Mario? If so, I am buying this out of sheer awesomeness of the concept.

That said, Nintendo never was any good at managing Europe, even in their NES days. I think they actually lost to the SEGA Master System in Germany (I know they definitely lost in Brazil).
janus janus - July 08, 2006 (12:39 PM)
He's lying. Its all DIRTY LIES.
EmP EmP - July 09, 2006 (08:40 AM)
Not ALLLLL of it.
janus janus - July 09, 2006 (10:04 AM)
"Morrissey has added NSMB to his never-ending list of things he hates."

This bit was true, but only because Morrissey hates everything.

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