New Super Mario Bros Wii Mario is certainly a busy boy, with his penchant for Olympic events, Go Kart racing, time travelling, exploring Bowsers insides and crossing the galaxy one would think that he would have little time to go back to his roots as a side scrolling adventurer, but the Big N have cleared some time on his schedule so that he can make that adventure one more, this time around however he has brought some friends with him. New Super Mario Brothers is a throwback to days of yonder, where the side scrolling adventure genre ruled consoles, and Mario was its king. Times have changed however, where the first person shooter is now the cream of the crop, with third person adventure games nipping at its heels and fitness boards have the outside advantage to dominate your precious gaming time. Can Mario capture the magic of the early 90's and thrust it once more into the limelight of today's console gamers, or has the old boy lost his touch and should remain in the past, or stay on the portables where he belongs? "Just got back from my holiday, and you know what I got? SAND!" Déjà Vu The setting is typical of any Mario game, he is at a reception with Princess Peach, where out of nowhere she is kidnapped by Bowsers minions and it is up to Mario, Luigi and two Toadstool guys to fetch her back. Again. At this point we can take the adventure alone, or with a partner with the latter no doubt being the best option on offer. Typical of a Mario side scroller all the basic elements are in place, collect 100 coins for a new life, touch a mushroom to become a larger version of yourself, eat a flower to throw fire, collect a shiny star and become the embodiment of a 6 year old on a sugar rush and charge through the landscape as an invincible rainbow coloured man and to complete the stage within a certain time limit. To add to this repertoire the big N have taken some elements from the highly successful DS iteration where you can now collect a freezing flower where you can ice your enemies, pick them up and throw them like a weapon, collect a spinny hat to thrust you skyward and float gingerly back to earth, or a penguin suit to get traction on ice and to slide along your belly destroying anything in your path. The most exciting new addition however is the tiny mushroom, which gives the power to become impossibly tiny and impossibly quick. You cannot jump on enemy's heads to defeat them, but you can jump incredibly high, run on water and go into new tiny pipes. There are also three large coins to collect in each level which can then be spent at Princess Peach's castle to unlock hint movies to help you reach 100% completion. It all sounds like a pretty good recipe for adventure. As I mentioned before, NSMBW is a multi player adventure and is without doubt the highlight of the new adventure. Unlike the original game where one player would tackle a level, then the second player would repeat the same course, all 4 players play the level at the same time, which can lead to some hilarious consequences. Players can bump into each other, jump on each other for added height and even pick each other up and throw them with a simple shake of the wii-mote. This allows for some well planned teamwork, where working together can access hard to reach places. The controls also cater for players of all skill levels, where even the most novice of gamers can keep up with the veterans with some included functionality. For instance if there is an obstacle that someone cannot do, or they get trapped behind a wall a simple tap of the A button will put the player inside a bubble, where they can float to where the rest of the mob is and can continue on. There is no penalty for this so for the less skilled it makes playing the game so much easier. *Insert bad pun about time and hammers here* Buns of Steel The multiplayer is not without its flaws. When a character dies and comes back to life in the bubble and floats onto the screen, simply hitting it with a fireball or touching it can release the player, but on several occasions when the character was released the main player was bumped out of the way and on in some instances thrown to his impending doom by falling down a pit or into some spikes. This was only with two players, but I can only dream with 4 people on screen things can get a little too crowded when it comes to the narrower platforms. There is also the possibility to act like a jerk too often. At first it can be funny to pick someone up and throw them into a bitey flower or into a spikey pit, but when you are on your last life the joke can get a little old. The player can avoid this to a degree, but only if you are quick thinking. So multiplayer is overall a brilliant concept if a little flawed in its execution. Single player should no doubt be a dream then? Well it is and it isn't. Having the wide screen space to yourself might be fun at first, but after a while the whole game starts to feel shallow and at times rather hollow. This doesn't help with the rather pedestrian difficulty level and with only the three major coins to look out for in each level, often there is no reason to go back to a level just for the fun of it. It just more often than not feels a little bland. Old Blue Jeans NSMBW may be a 2D platformer, but is sports 3D character models, which has done wonders for the animation side of things, but has detracted from overall art direction. Whilst Mario runs and jumps as he always had, in silky smooth flawless fashion and the level design is still classic, it all feels somewhat hollow due to the lack of finer details on the character models or the environment. It is a little bit disappointing because when I look back at the design of some of Nintendo's most revered games of the SNES era, most notable Yoshi's Island, the vibrance, detail and overall look of the game gave it so much charm and under no circumstance would let your eyes deter from the TV. This new game however feels like a DS game, only up scaled to Wii graphical standards and just cheapens the whole impact, and leaves it without charm. By no means is it an ugly looking game, just rather bland. Obligatory Vanilla Ice reference caption The audio is too a bit of a mash up, on the one side it has brought back some of the music and effects from the NES, which should excite those of us who's early gaming diet most likely consisted of such merry tunes, but the newer remixed music is rather forgetful and in some cases feels like it isn't there at all. Having this mix of two contrasting styles might seem like a good idea on paper, but in doing so creates a overall flattening experience. Had they gone with a new soundtrack, mixed in the ways of ye olde NES it might have made the audio feel more consistent and palatable. Overall New Super Mario Bros Wii is a great title. It introduces some new exciting elements to the classic platforming genre with the excellent, yet flawed multi-player, but the bland design, hollow single player and easy difficulty means that single players will feel a little left out and won't be able to take full advantage of what's on offer. To get the best out of this game, get some mates over and get ready for a hell of a ride, because 8-10 hours later it will be all over and you will have recaptured what it feels like to be 6 years old once over. Visuals - 75 Audio - 80 Gameplay - Single Player - 80 Gameplay - Multi-Player - 94 Overall - 88 Fantastic multi-player, makes you feel like a kid again, single player a little dull. The perfect family game.