Super Mario Bros Wonder | REVIEW | Nintendo Switch
''MARIO IN WONDERLAND''
Genre: 2D Platformer
Release Date: Oct 20th, 2023
Super Mario Bros Wonder is the next big entry into the 2D Mario franchise and its developed and published by Nintendo. With us Nintendo fans starving for more 2D and 3D Mario content that isn't a sports game or a spinoff title, Nintendo decided to finally throw us a bone with a brand new 2D adventure, the first brand new 2D Mario game since 2012's New Super Mario Bros U on Wii U. But is this the 2D game we've been longing for? or is it another cookie cutter version of the New Super Mario Bros series? only one way to go find out, so LETS-A-GO!
Team up with Mario and his friends as they venture through six distinct worlds, as well as a central area known as the Petal Isles, in order to rescue the Poplins, recover the powerful Wonder Seeds, and put a stop to Bowser's new reign of terror. Can Bowser and his goons be stopped before its too late?
''THE GANG IS ALL HERE''
The hype surrounding Super Mario Bros Wonder has never been more real, especially for fans like myself who have been starving for another 3D entry into the series, since we haven't heard a dang thing about a follow up to Super Mario Odyssey. Which I take that silence as the next major 3D Mario game is being prepped for the next generation of Nintendo consoles that will be dropping within the next few years, so I guess I'll have to be patient just a tad bit. Well at least more patient than Yoshi screaming MAMA LUIGI for an entire 20 minute episode of the Super Mario World cartoon. While Super Mario Bros Wonder isn't exactly the 3D adventure I was looking for, it's still a hefty romp into another adventure, one that takes us outside of the Mushroom Kingdom, thankfully, and provides us... a good time? maybe even, surprises? I guess so, but I was more so talking about ELEPHANTS. The word ELEPHANTS.. will be our word of the day. Obviously there's way more power ups than that, but the ELEPHANT power up has definitely overshowed and took the full limelight away from the awesome new power ups that have been added to this game that gives it a good ol rejuvenated 2D Mario experience - one that for me, at least in the 2D perspective, has shown the most creativity since Super Mario World on Super Nintendo. Playing through Super Mario Wonder felt like walking through a theme park, I know most people's go to when you hear that is Disneyland, I mean, duh, but while that may be quite a good comparison since that is the happiest place on earth... well it was until all the damn price hiking. But my comparison is more so that this is like Super Mario World at Universal Studios come to life. The reason I say this is because the game acts like a Nintendo theme park from start to finish as you uncover all the different thrills and new additions that await you across each of the six worlds with spontaneous singing flowers that liven up the mood and makes you thank the god sun of Super Mario Bros 3 that they aren't singing ITS A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL, ITSSSS A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALLLLL, ITS SMALL SMALL WORLDDDDDDD. Oh my god get it out of my head! THAT SONG HAUNTS ME SO. As I was saying.
The core theme of this title, besides an epic and wonderous adventure, is the utilization of Wonder Flowers and how they're implemented and used to further boost the games creativity and surprises as you find them throughout the world and within houses that are located in each of the six area's stages. Wonder Flowers also vastly enhance the experience of the overall game by not only affecting specific objectives given to you, but also by even adding to the amount of gameplay mechanics you will have going forward, should you find one. Some of these changes include giving Mario and friends a Bubble Flower power up that allows you to toss bubbles and trapping enemies inside them or bouncing off them to get to other areas, transforming an area you are in into a weird acid trip like stage that has slithering warp pipes, spazzing colors, transforming Mario into a giant long figure that can expand and shrink himself, and even as stated before, turning into... an ELEPHANT. I'm not exaggerating when I say it looks like an acid trip either, you remember that scene from Dumbo and Pink... you know what - well Blue Wonder Flowers make that look tame in comparison. Someone finally put the WRONG kind of Mushroom in Mario's pasta. Not all abilities are brand new however, you still have your tried and true jump and spin move from previous 2D entries, your fire power and other classic powers, but again, all the type goes to the Wonder Flowers powers, that honestly feels like this games version of Cappy or Sonic Colors Wisps in way. Why this comparison? well for one thing you can turn Mario into a drill with them, turn you into a Goomba, a rolling spike ball, a fat floating Mario like in Super Mario World and again, *looks around* and like I stated earlier, *whispers* Elephants. Oh wow I guess he didn't hear me this time. Ugh. There it goes. I really shouldn't have made words of the day, now Pee Wee Herman will never leave us alone. But back to what I was saying about Wonder being akin to Mario Odyssey as well, the reason for this comparison, like Wisp for Wonder Flowers is because of the explorative spirit that is similar to Odyssey itself and even Super Mario Galaxy. Maybe not in the same exact ways, but by finding hidden tunnels, secret areas, jumping over walls that you can't see like in the original Super Mario Bros game and finding Wonder Seeds that are needed to unlock more stages to progress. etc etc. The way this 2D title is played is far expanded beyond any 2D Mario game in the last decade or more, which makes you even more excited and feel rewarded for replaying a level to find more Wonder Seeds, stashes of coins or more unlockable Badges that offer even more power ups, which we will get to shortly.
''IM ELEPHUN THE ELEPHANT''
The playful nature in Super Mario games is always there and very apparent, but here in Wonder, that delightfulness stands out even further with every new area you come across, oozing and exuding joy, to the level that you really only find nowadays in a Nintendo game. Whether its how aesthetically astonishing the game looks with the most visually pleasing Mario title in recent memory that's bolstered even higher by how meticulous each level seems to be hand crafted with, with one objective in mind: Fun. No, not that fun fun fun, looking forward to the weekend type of Rebecca Black type of fun, eww no no, but the whimsical careful style the game takes on with its colors, music, new animations like Mario running with a little mad determined face or a classic cartoon animation with Mario losing his hat while going in a tunnel and reaching out his hat to pull it back in, and even down to its overworld that manages to strike a near perfect balance between the usual linear Overworld maps, to extra areas to explore for harder levels to challenge, new shops to buy extra lives, and buy more Wonder Seeds or extra power ups. Expressiveness is also a big part of this games charm, from the expressive faces of all the playable characters, jumping and doing a silly hand clapping motion, their unique animations, watching Mario in...big eared animal form, being so fat that he has trouble trying to squeeze through pipes, all of these, alongside the even more so animated environments and enemies, will stay giving you quite a few chuckles along your journey to take down that creep Bowser. Honestly, this is the most random we've seen Bowser since he turned into a cat, but this time he said, nah nah, screw that, I'm used to conquering castles, but this time, he's like ''LOOK AT ME, IM DA CASTLE NOW''. I'm not even going to begin to try to pick apart how anatomy wise, how this is even possible and ill play ignorance to it.
So we have amazing environments, great music, expressive characters, creative genius for most levels, power ups that expand the gameplay to absurd levels like Bubble powers, Drill powers that allow for underground exploration and combat, and Badges that you can obtain throughout your journey that you can equip at the start of the level to give you extra abilities such as being able to use your hat as a gliding mechanic, have Mario and friends swim faster as they kick their feet like a dolphin, create more blocks for you to land on should a level give you an issue, enemies that give you more coins, etc etc. With 24 Badges to collect in all, the amount of boost to your mustache arsenal is pretty insane. Nearly as insane as Mario got when he stomped on Luigi's foot for beating him in a party game, what a pudgy little jerk face. But jerk face Mario aside, these badges never get dull looking for as you find and unlock secret challenge levels for them. Only side issue with this is... the game might become a tad bit too easy if you rely on them too much to get you out of a tough scrape, so I recommend seasoned players using them as little as possible, at least for your first major playthrough so that you do not cheapen your experience fully. Although some may be too tempting not to use because some bring back classic and traditional Mario moves that tug at your nostalgia and make you feel obligated to use them anyways, no matter what your brain says. Much like me and my credit card when there's a 2 for 1 special on pizzas, my brain says dont you dare do it, but the belly says I must. I mean all the Cool kids and Cool Cats are doing it, so why shouldn't you too? But did you notice again, just like in my Sonic Superstars review, I am missing something, yup, its time again, boss fights, WAH--HOO. The boss fights in Mario Wonder for the most part are pretty easy, just like in Sonic Superstars, but just like in Superstars, all are creatively fun in their own way, such as entering a Bowser airship and fighting a mechanical Bowser head that sends BOB-OMBS at you that has you either throw them back into his mouth or climbing on its head to slam down a button that throws the bombs right back into his mouth, fights against Bowser Jr where he controls molecules in both your bodies due to the Wonder Seed power and you must fight him in both a giant form or a shrunken form, or another fight where Bowser Jr controls the environment by making the floor ice like that makes you slip and slide around as you dodge his shell rolls and changing pillars into big walls of liquid goo that holds into place, which makes every movement from jumping to regular running even more cumbersome as you try to make your getaway. Those are just the tip of the Pokey of the fights you encounter in Wonder, but for surprise sake, I'd rather not spoil them all for you right now.
''WHOS PAYING FOR ALL THIS PROPERTY DAMAGE?''
So you think you're done with the game, nah, you're not, chump. There's still a ton to offer even after you've seen the main games credits after about 6-8 hours of main story. After beating the game, you're free to go back and play levels as other characters you might not have gotten a chance to play as, such as Peach, Luigi, Toad, Toadette, Daisy, Yoshi and Nabbit. With Yoshi and Nabbit themselves offering invulnerability for lesser skilled players or a younger audience to be able to play, but at the cost of not being able to use any power ups at all, so you'll have to pick if its worth it for you. Other ventures to take on are all the extra content to unlock, that I sorta touched on earlier, with the 24 unlockable Badges for extra abilities. Each ability can be obtained by venturing off the main path you're on to beat the game and taking on extra bonus missions that are more difficult than your normal missions, with some involving you having to be careful over poisonous waters or trying to maintain balance as you ride fast on top of enemy boars while dodging enemies from below and above, as well as hazards. This same level of difficulty holds true for the second unlockable, the Standees, which are fun collectibles of each character, all of who'm have 12 different Standee's to collect of every character. So as you can see, that's a lot of fish. Wait, I mean that's a lot of Standees. So with a 6 to 8 hour story campaign, Standees, Badges and other unlockables I won't spoil, you're well into the 15-20 hour mark of replayability. That's pretty insane for a 2D Mario title because that's usually something you only get in a 3D title. Eventually I'm going to 100% the entire game and just disappear off the face of the earth and randomly reappear from the Mario Wonder Jumanji game yelling ''WHAT YEAR IS IT!?'', it's pretty inevitable.
''I CAN SHOW YOU THE WORLD''
BADDUH BUH BUH BUH BUH BUM BUM, yes that was supposed to be my Mario death sound effect because we've arrived at the negatives of this title. I've been praising it to ends of the earth and justifiably so, but it's definitely not a perfect outing. My first issue is the 4 player co-op. While Its pretty amazing to have both local AND online multiplayer, it tends to be sort of a let down because all characters play the same with no uniqueness between them for their move sets. Yup, if you play as Mario and switch to Peach, there's no difference in speed, jumping, running or anything else for that matter, which is a shame considering how well titles like 3D World brought back classic abilities from Super Mario Bros 2 for each character, making everyone feel fresh and unique, but in Wonder, there's no extra fun factor to it and it just boils down to ''do I want to play with a friend or nah''. Other gripes has to do with the games difficulty. I feel because the game is way more accessible to a wider audience, with Badges abilities, that this game is a little bit on the easy side, especially considering its hard to get a game over due to shops selling you five One Up's at 100 coins a pop, so if you get like 2000 coins after several levels, you just bought yourself like 100 lives easily, unless my Math is as bad as Ricky's in Trailer Park Boys, if so, I better go back to school to get learnt and beat Cyrus to getting my Grade 10. Boss fights can also seem a bit on easy side too, even though they're really fun.
At the end of the day, Super Mario Wonder far exceeded the expectations I had for it and then some. Although its far from perfect with Badges and their abilities making the game way too easy if over used, characters not feeling very worth playing as in the main story because there's no real reason to unless you're a fan of that character since no one character has different abilities than the other, hard to get game overs unless you try to and allowing One Up's to be bought a little TOO cheaply. However, even with all the negatives, the sheer amount of thought and effort put into the game with levels that allow to explore deep caverns, underwater levels that actually don't suck this time due to a Dolphin swimming ability, keeping your balance on a giant tumbling snowball as the level tries to smash you, beautiful overworld that offers freedom to move around and look for new paths, gorgeous environments and character animations, Wonder Seeds that change how a level plays by transforming it into a trippy acidic freak out that can remind you of the dark world from Super Mario Bros 2, Wonder Flowers that allow you to become an Elephant, and rolling balls - all of it is just a treat from start to end. Super Mario Wonder delivers on nearly everything Nintendo fans have wanted from a 2D Mario game in quite sometime, but just missing a mark on a few things here and there that stop it from achieving that level of perfection. But again, while it isn't perfect, it is now, for me, squarely up top with the top of 2D Mario list along side the Super Mario Bros NES trilogy and has managed to be my favorite 2D Mario game since the days of Super Mario World. If you're a Mario fan, this is a must have. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW