One of only three games I managed to get a hold of at the Nintendo booth today, and one of the ones I was sadly least excited to play, was New Super Mario Brothers Wii
. The spiritual sequel to the hugely popular NSMB DS
from a few years back, it features classic 2D Mario
game-play with 3D, pre-rendered, characters and lovely, highly detailed backgrounds.
The big deal this time around though is the inclusion of four-player play. I don't say co-op or competitive play because adding extra players to a Mario game doesnít necessarily lead to team work or combat. Instead Nintendo has tried to balance the game so that in some parts you feel compelled to help each other and in some you will want to fight over certain items and prizes. Itís a very dynamic experience and one that I was a bit fearful of.
For those who tried it the two-player competitive mode in the DS version was a blast to play. Taking the classic ďstep on each others heads without killing each otherĒ game play from Mario Brothers
and mixing it with level design from the Super Mario Brothers
games was a stroke of genius. The issue I had going into this was a fear that A: It would be too hard to keep track of my character; B: a game of skill like Mario
would turn into a train wreck when youíre forced to deal with other human beings and their whims.
While my worst fears werenít realized upon playing, they certainly were put to rest either. I had the (mis)fortune to play the game with three strangers. As we all knew we only had a few minutes to play, everyone wanted to try everything.
Thankfully item blocks now produced the appropriate number of mushrooms for all players. Unfortunately the same canít be said for fire flowers or Yoshis. As such it was often a race/fight to grab the ďgood stuffĒ. Another issue is that once you have a power mushroom you can still collect more of them for extra points. So, unless your teammates are very thoughtful and careful, itís not uncommon for one player to grab anotherís mushroom unnecessarily.
The other issue, losing track of myself, was a bit of a problem, though mostly because I wasnít sure which character I had when I was first handed the controller. Once I realized I was Blue Toad it wasnít too bad but I couldnít help but think that having four or more distinct characters, rather than different colored versions of two, would have been the way to go. Blue toad can look an awful lot like blue Mario from a distance.
Itís hard to say what it will be like to play this game with real friends, and seeing as there is no online play planned, thatís pretty much the only way Iíll ever be playing it with more than one person in the future, but I am very interested to find out.
This brings up another concern I have in that, I donít know if Iíll be able to ever really play the game with more than just myself. Usually when Iím gaming with friends on the Wii, we break out the party games like Wii Sports
, Wario Ware
, and the Rabbids
games. This is because itís easy to pass the control or pop in / drop out at will and thereís no heavy time commitment.
A game like Mario
should really be played for at least an hour at a time, probably more. I canít imagine the scenario in my life right now where I convince three friends to come to my house for four or more hours to play Mario
While I know some of you out there wonít have this issue I tend to imagine a lot of my ďover 25Ē brethren will. I hate to think there will be coins and items in the game I will never be able to get because I donít have a group of friend there to help me.
Does making a Mario
game multi-player tarnish the single-player fun? Only time will tell.