Ever since we battered Bowser out of the Koopa Klown Kar, uncovered the 96th exit, and discovered the formation of coins that spelt "YOU ARE A SUPER PLAYER" on Star Road, we've prayed to the gods for another episode of pure 2D heaven to match the unparalleled joy that was Super Mario World. That was in 1991.
Since then Mario has ridden on Yoshi's back as a baby (that was great, but not quite the same). We've seen the re-release of his 2D classics on the GBA with the Super Mario Advance series (but they don't count). And even Peach has her own 2D adventure on DS (which we like but what's all that umbrella-floating about? Peach should stick to being kidnapped). But, finally, the game we've been waiting for has arrived. We've been waiting 15 years for this and we can tell you right now - New Super Mario Bros. is one of Nintendo's finest creations. Every last one of you should have this sitting at the top of your wish list because it's going down as one of Nintendo's all-time classics.
Just take a look at New Super Mario Bros. for a second and you can tell that this is Mario going back to his roots. This is proper Mario. There are no cheating hover jumps like in Yoshi's or Peach's games. You land on small platforms using bad-ass skills. There are no hearts or petal-leaf health bars. Touching an enemy makes you shrink, and then it kills you. Enemies don't stay alive when you stand on their head. And you can't lift them up or hit them with an umbrella either. You stamp on them and they cop it. No messing about. This is how Mario games are supposed to be. But above all, this is immense fun. It defines what videogames should be about, just like the classics did.
Old-time Mario fans will be overcome by nostalgic joy as they kick Koopa shells through rows of enemies, go down green pipes to underground rooms full of coins or hear that distinctive 'grow' sound when Mario grabs a mushroom. But this isn't just another page in a 20-year-old book. New Super Mario Bros. is as fresh as it is nostalgic, packed with loads of new elements and concepts that really progress the series as well as taking full advantage of the superior power of the DS. You'll meet enemies you've never seen, use powers you've never used, and overcome challenges unlike any in previous Mario games.
Even if you've hammered through every Mario game in existence, New Super Mario Bros. will still give you plenty of 'wow' moments. You'll press a switch and watch in surprise as the DS's power kicks in to bend and morph the floor, forming new hills and dips in the environment. You'll be amazed when you play in fully rotating environments, like in Yoshi's Island but better and smoother. Your eyebrows will hit the ceiling in shock when you first see the enormous 3D bosses that stomp onto your DS screen with a menacing prowess, and feel a new sense of satisfaction when you overcome giant obstacles that simply weren't possible back in the old days. The experience is classic yet fresh.
Old But New
Mario's newer, more acrobatic abilities really enhance the traditional 2D gameplay. His ground pound makes a return allowing him to smash bricks beneath him, along with the familiar triple jump which has Mario performing three consecutive jumps for extra height. Best of all is the inclusion of the wall jump, where Mario kicks back off vertical surfaces to gain extra height or bounce between two walls like a ninja.
You'll also see Mario tip-toe precariously over tightropes Mario Sunshine-style, with the ropes bending convincingly under his weight; he can bounce off spinning springs that send him twirling through the air with his arms out like a helicopter as seen in Mario 64; the blue climbable fences have returned, complete with the rotating sections that Mario can bash to flip the other way; he can swing from ropes with physics that are far superior to the old games, forcing players to time their jump perfectly to carry the right amount of momentum to the next platform.