It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 10 years since the last brand-new 2D Mario game was released. While updates to classics like Super Mario 35 and remixes like the Super Mario Maker series are exciting, there was still a void felt without a fresh entry to the franchise. However, after getting a chance to go hands-on with Super Mario Bros. Wonder ahead of its official release on October 10th, the magic of the 2D Mario games feels like it’s back.
One of the key changes in Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the shift in location from the Mushroom Kingdom to the Flower Kingdom. This move allowed Nintendo to update practically every aspect of the game while still staying true to the core formula of running, jumping, smashing blocks, and collecting everything in sight. The game introduces new power-ups like the elephant suit, which allows players to bash enemies with their trunk. Classic items like the Fire Flower are still present, but there are also refreshing twists like the Bubble Flower, which not only enables attacking but also allows players to reach new heights by jumping on the orbs they shoot out.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder boasts the largest roster of characters in any Mario sidescroller to date. It includes the 2D return of Daisy along with Peach, Luigi, Toad, Nabbit, and multiple colors of Yoshi. These characters bring important gameplay implications, with Yoshi and Nabbit being unable to transform but also not taking damage from enemies, projectiles, or the environment. This provides an easy way to adjust game difficulty on the fly and serves as a perfect introduction to 2D platformers for a new generation of players.
The game also introduces a variety of new enemies, such as Koopas wearing roller skates and herds of angry rhinos. Players will even encounter entirely new genera of foes like Goombrats, which resemble Goombas but are based on tomatoes instead of mushrooms.
In addition to in-game power-ups, Super Mario Bros. Wonder features a new badge system divided into two types: Action badges and Boost badges. This system provides players with another way to customize their gameplay. Action badges like the “Wall Climb Jump” and the “Floating High Jump” make it easier to reach secrets, while Boost badges like the Coin badge and the “Add ! Blocks” badge change how players traverse a stage. Players have the option to swap in new badges before starting each level, adding another measure of customization and replayability to the game.
The most impactful new mechanic introduced in Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the Wonder Flowers. These flowers can completely change a level, causing warp pipes to crawl around on the ground like worms and Super Stars to fall from the sky. The shift from day to night and the ability to float through the sky in certain levels adds a delightful subversion of expectations, constantly keeping players engaged and surprised.
On a more granular level, Super Mario Bros. Wonder includes numerous little details and animations that make it the most expressive 2D Mario game yet. Mario’s face changes as he runs faster, and his hat flaps around in the wind. Small gouts of flame pop off his feet when he jumps with a Fire Flower equipped. Additionally, there are happy little flowers in the background that cheer the player on as they speed through the levels. The game’s visual design is sharp and snazzy, making it a treat for the eyes.
While not as prominent as in something like Super Mario Maker, Super Mario Bros. Wonder features online multiplayer that can be enjoyed with up to four players. There are two different modes available – a straightforward race mode similar to time trials in Mario Kart where players can see the progress of others, and a more collaborative mode that allows players to see how others tackle challenges and even help each other out by hitting checkpoints.
In conclusion, Super Mario Bros. Wonder reinvents the 2D platformer for a new generation of players while maintaining the charm and playfulness that made the series a classic almost 40 years ago. With its updated gameplay mechanics, expanded roster of characters, new power-ups, and enchanting visuals, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is already shaping up to be an instant buy for fans of the franchise and newcomers alike.