Get ready for some new-fangled, yet old-fangled Marioing! by Colin Thames

May 17, 2006 - He's been reincarnated in various forms and formats but this time the Mario that we all know and love has been resurrected in true classic, plaforming action in the latest DS game, New Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros. returns to Mario's roots. We haven't seen a Mario game like this in over 15 years, and even longer if you consider that the N64 version was rendered in 3D. This version is a 2D side-scroller but it does incorporate some excellent 3D graphics. Mario is rendered in 3D as are many of the enemies and environments, although you can't explore them like you could in the N64 version.

Right from the first few seconds of play you can tell that you're in for a good time. The game just reeks of quality. It looks great, sounds like nostalgia, responds brilliantly and is great fun - and that's just the first minute of game play. You can tell that Nintendo has done their homework on this game. It retains the look and feel of the side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. series but manages to update and upgrade it with new moves, enemies, booby traps, puzzles, bonuses and secrets so that you will always be mindful that you are playing a new game and not some reheated rehash. There are plenty of nods to its heritage, including goombas, Koopas, question mark blocks and flagpole jumping at the end of levels but these are classic elements that I believe must be included to give us a sense of familiarity. Maybe this wouldn't have worked five or ten years ago, but enough time has passed so that we don't perceive these elements as hackneyed.

With today's games we tend to take the storylines too seriously, when in reality the story can't fix a terrible game. The Super Mario Bros. storyline is about as basic as they come, and we don't really expect it to be any different. Come to think of it, it doesn't need to be any different. It's all laid out for us. Are mission is to rescue to Princess from the clutches of Bowser, in this case, Bowser Jr. He's kidnapped her and taken her to the castle at the end of the first level. Once you reach that castle, Bowser Jr. takes Peaches to the next castle. This continues on through numerous levels. There are eight worlds in all, and an overhead map allows you to see all the different levels in each world. It's quite easy to get through the entire game since there are plenty of power-ups and extra lives, but you'll miss out on the whole experience if you just go barreling through the levels without stopping to smell the piranha plants.

There are a couple of hidden worlds to unlock. You should explore all areas thoroughly to find all of the unlockables, secrets, surprises and shortcuts. There is also the added challenge of collecting coins. Not only will you earn extra lives by collecting coins but there are three huge coins in each level for you to locate. This challenge isn't easy and I didn't find them all yet but I'm intrigued to return to the levels where I missed them. The replay value is tremendous if you decide that you want to find everything in the game and take part in all of the challenges.

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System: DS
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: NIntendo
Released: May 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Colin