With more than 30.79 million copies sold worldwide, New Super Mario Bros. was responsible for birthing a new golden era for Nintendo’s plump Italian plumber.
His first side-scrolling adventure since 1990’s Super Mario World, the success of this Nintendo DS return would inspire New Super Mario Bros. Wii, New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U. Delivering a generous dose of nostalgia, it saw Nintendo present new ideas that have reappeared in the series ever since.
After enjoying a gentle stroll with Princess Peach, Mario is distracted by smoke that suddenly surrounds Peach’s Castle. That presents an opportune moment for the Mushroom Kingdom ruler to be kidnapped, seeing our moustachioed hero set off in hot pursuit. While the story that drives this escapade isn’t particularly ‘new,’ it’s more than enough to send players bounding through the eight worlds that populate the game.
Scurrying across the World Map, players are required to clear a course before progressing on to the next. Nintendo continues to excel in their course design, experts at their craft that see the adventure well-varied throughout beyond each World’s aesthetic change. There are coins to collect, ? Blocks to whack, and 1-Up Mushrooms to gulp, bringing a sense of familiarity to the experience.
Mario’s actions tread a similar tale, with players walking, dashing, ducking, jumping and stomping their way to the Goal Post. Whereas more advanced actions echo Mario’s 3D adventures, allowing players to ground pound, triple jump and wall jump.
World Maps have alternate routes, new paths opening up by paying the amount shown on Star Coin Signs – these shiny collectables scattered in each course that Mario energetically leaps through. Mid-World, Tower courses must be tackled and see Mario battle it out with Bowser Jr., while a mightier boss awaits you in the Castle courses placed at the end of each World.
Players can also take a break at Toad Houses, the chirpy Mushroom Kingdom inhabitants running a minigame that can see you rewarded with 1-Ups and items. New items come in the Mega Mushroom, Mini Mushroom and Blue Koopa Shell. These either see Mario transform into colossal or minuscule sizes, or see him become Shell Mario – a costume that allows him to perform a shell dash.
It is a shame that limitations surrounding Wii U’s Virtual Console service mean that wireless communication features are locked out. That leaves the laughter-inducing Mario Vs. Luigi mode unavailable, and the Minigames only playable solo. These are still hugely enjoyable and serve as a reminder to Nintendo’s experimentation with their new hardware – rolling snowballs, spotting hidden characters or guiding Bob-ombs. It’s just a shame that experience can no longer be shared.
Understandably rugged in comparison to his Wii U and Nintendo 3DS adventures, New Super Mario Bros. still holds up remarkably well given that it released nearly 10 years ago. That decade has provided grander memories, but it was this Nintendo DS title sparked them all.