New Super Mario Bros. Wii is now Old Super Mario Bros. Wii

From avowedly retro to officially retro

It’s homogenous, they tell me. And to some extent I can see where they’re coming from. The New Super Mario Bros. series shares a uniform aesthetic and it’s not a particularly spectacular one. It’s a look as meat-and-potatoes Mario as they come, but then again, so is the gameplay.

That’s not really a criticism, far as I’m concerned. 2D Mario game feels like 2D Mario game. Stop the presses. New Super Mario Bros. Wii gives you next-to-nothing new, and that seems to be a dealbreaker for a lot of people. I don’t know. It’s always struck me as something of a performative set of standards, where games as polished and beautifully put together as the New Super Mario Bros. series are dismissed because they don’t represent an evolution for the series on the level of Mario Bros. > Super Mario Bros. > Super Mario Bros. 3. It seems to be that this familiarity is the point, hence the name “New Super Mario Bros.”, but intent isn’t everything.

If you’re familiar with the preceding DS game, you have the fundamentals of New Super Mario Bros. Wii down pat. To be honest, familiarity with any prior Mario title helps. The level design is strong. The gimmicks are plentiful in variety. Secret exits. Alternate routes. Warp zones. You know how it is. And that’s a good thing when the newly-added four-player mode turns crazy, which is all the time. Mario, Luigi and (bizarrely) two Toads jostle for screen space, making the newly-widescreen levels feel downright pokey. It’s a fun game to play alone, but you really shouldn’t. Everything is more fun with friends.

Ten years on, New Super Mario Bros. Wii remains vital. Precisely as good as it was on day one, excepting its non-HD resolution. Would it be too presumptuous to say that if you don’t like it, you don’t like 2D Mario?