“So what do you think?” my husband asked me the other day. “Xbox One or PS4 first?”
“If I had all the money in world,” I said with a sigh, “I’d get a Wii U.”
He paused. “That didn’t answer the question.”
“I know,” I responded, “but I should really be playing a Mario game right now.”
Truth is, I really don’t care which next gen console we get next because I’m still playing GTA 5 (and will be for a very loooong time). Also, and more to my point, for me this time of year is very strongly tied to gaming generally. With the colder weather comes less outdoor activities and more hibernation, which means more time for games. And in the past, this time of year also once brought about a rekindling of my kinship with Mario and his friendly gang of jumpers and stompers. No matter the plethora of games at my disposal, I’d always play a little something Mario when I had time off from classes, from work, from life. In very recent times, this habit has dwindled; but it managed rear up again recently, last holiday season in fact, in the form of New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
Like the plethora of Mario games before it, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was more of the same combined with a little something different. In the game, you were back in the Mushroom Kingdom. Back with Peach, Toad, Luigi, and of course, Bowser. Back with the goombas, koopas, bob-ombs, 1-ups, fire flowers, hard to judge gaps, and bitchy timing.
Uh…I mean..pretty, pretty graphics…on the Wii. The nice, ol’ Wii that is by no means sitting lonely on a far shelf wondering when I’m going to get back to Metroid Prime. (sigh)
Okay look…I know that 90% of my frustration in Mario games comes from my impatience. It’s not like the gaps between ledges are purposely far apart. It’s not like the precisest of timing is needed to traverse each and every level. It’s not like there’s some force in my life that’s been conspiring to formulate a long-standing addiction to frustration. Or…well…there might be something to that last one. But the thing is, I’ve played a lot of Mario games, and I’m pretty sure than any frustration I encountered while played NSWBWii was chalked up to the damn wiimote.
I won’t rehash my dislike of the wiimote. I’ve alluded to it on this blog and wrote up some additional thoughts on it over on United We Game, so apparently this is something I really need to get over. I’m usually pretty good with letting things go, but the wiimote is no ordinary thing.
But I digress…too much sometimes…
NSMBWii followed the same format found in all Mario Bros. games. Traverse your way, as Mario (or Luigi, Blue Toad, or Yellow Toad, if you’re playing multiplayer) through a variety of themed stages over the courses of eight levels to save your dearest Princess Peach from the clutches of that evil dinosaur Bowser. Face lesser bosses at the mid-points and harder bosses at the end-points. And at the end of it all, meet Bowser head-on in a fight to the finish.
Since the original Super Mario Bros., its sequels have improved upon and added to the game’s levels. NSMBWii is no exception. The levels are big, bright, and they teem with life. There’s all of your standard enemies along with as few new ones, such as teeny, “sticky” goombas. Also added are special coins, three in each level. Collect them to access a special ninth world. And the level themes follow the tried and true themes of past game: grass, sand, snow, water, jungle, rock, air, and fire. And you can still collect coins, power stars, and fire flowers. And there are even a few levels with the bestest friend a Mario could ever ask for, Yoshi.
Besides the special coins, new suits and power-ups are also debuted. There’s the ice flower, giving its holder the ability to shoot ice balls, thereby freezing opponents. The penguin suit is great for making your way over slippery ice and snow, and it can slide easily on those grounds as well. And then there’s the propeller suit, my favorite new addition. Throw that sucker on and with a quick flick of the wiimote, you’re launched into the air with a bit of breathing room as you search for a soft spot on which to land.
As far as traditional, platform Mario games go, New Super Mario Bros. Wii isn’t my favorite, but it’s one of the nicest looking entries in the series. Plus, it’s got a wonderfully revamped soundtrack. The music in just about every way hearkens back to same tunes we’ve heard before, but it’s all so catchy and loveable that there’s just not a bad song in the bunch. I think my favorite is the newly designed castle theme that used during the mini-boss and boss battles. It’s punchy yet ominous, and it plays really well against the scale of difficulty that’s introduced in some of those battles.
Right now, I don’t have a Mario game lined up for the winter. I’m kind of dying to play Super Mario 3D World, because holy jeezus…CAT MARIO?? I just…YES PLEASE! But that’s probably not gonna happen. I’ve been thinking of snatching up a copy of Super Mario Galaxy or Super Paper Mario, but we’ll see. This holiday season has barely even begun, yet it’s already too busy. Isn’t there’s some way I could call out “Mario” from work? Like, can’t I just stay home for a week, live in my fort made out of warm blankets and pillows, have on hand an ample supply of hot chocolate, and spend some quality time beating up koopas and collecting power stars? Is that TOO MUCH to ask of this world?