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“Super Mario Bros Wonder” is The Wondrous Revamp 2D Mario Desperately Needed

The+cover+art+for+this+game+shows+off+all+the+playable+characters%2C+which+now+includes+Daisy+for+the+first+time.+It+also+displays+the+theme+for+the+first+few+levels.
Nintendo
The cover art for this game shows off all the playable characters, which now includes Daisy for the first time. It also displays the theme for the first few levels.

Mario has finally returned to his most popular outing; 2D platforming. “Super Mario Brothers Wonder” was released on October 20, 2023, and it follows Mario and the gang visiting the Flower Kingdom via invitation from Prince Florian, so he can show them the wonders of the Wonder Flower. Bowser then floats in on a clown car, nabs the flower and fuses with the Flower Kingdom’s main castle. Mario then agrees to aid the Flower Kingdom to get rid of Bowser, and with the help of Prince Florian, he sets off on his journey to restore peace to the kingdom. I have been a fan of the franchise since I was a kid, so I had to buy it on release day, and I fully completed it a few days later.

The developers had no deadline for this game, as stated by producer Takashi Tezuka in an Ask The Developers interview. This meant they could take as long as they needed to perfect it, experimenting and playing with different concepts and ideas to find what worked for all aspects of the game.

This game’s predecessors, the “New Super Mario Bros” series, lacked creativity, with each game feeling like the last. There wasn’t anything interesting going on in the levels, and nothing stood out to the players. Wonder serves as a revamp of the 2D Mario formula that this series desperately needed, with creativity flowing through every single part of it.

This game felt fresh and revamped, and it was easy to see how much care and effort they put into bringing this to life, and the payoff was well worth it. Each level feels special with the inclusion of the Wonder Effects, which occur at every level, with very few of these events repeated. No two levels ever felt the same, and they were all enjoyable to play.

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The inclusion of the Badges, which are little boosts and abilities that the player uses, add to the novelty of this new experience. One aspect that former 2D Mario games suffered from was next to no replayability. This game, however, gets it down, with each badge feeling special and adding new strategies and new ways to play each level. Each badge makes the levels fresh again, which is hard to find in platformers. There’s also the option to turn badges off as a whole to make the game more challenging, which is the route I took in my first playthrough.

The art style of  “Super Mario Bros Wonder” was breathtaking. The animations in the “New Super Mario Bros” games felt bland and weren’t anything to write home about, but now that Nintendo was using the Nintendo Switch console with better hardware, the graphics and animations were all able to be improved significantly. 

The soundtrack of Wonder can only be described as whimsical. Hopping into that first level and hearing the acapella version of the usual 1-1 tune creating a great feeling of immersion. I felt like this was the best track they could have made to accompany this level, and that same feeling carried across the whole game. It was a nice blend of old tunes with twists on them and completely new music, and it was phenomenal.

As much as I adore this game, I do have a couple of gripes though, being the boss fights and the local multiplayer. There are six worlds, and only four of them have boss fights. Every one of these bosses was Bowser Jr., which isn’t bad, but it definitely makes these boss fights harder to make unique. That being said, they do change a bit with Bowser Jr. utilizing the Wonder Effects to make each fight different, but it wasn’t different enough to make it continuously exciting. These fights were straightforward and didn’t require any difficult platforming or any kind of challenge, which is what I would hope for in a boss fight. Also, the final battle was supposed to feel special and be the sendoff for the game, but the fight with Bowser didn’t feel like that to me. I finished the fight, and my thoughts were “That’s it?” Not to say it was a bad fight at all, but it didn’t feel like a final boss. Maybe a special level in the middle of the game would’ve been a better fit. It was very underwhelming and kind of a let down.

The second gripe was the local multiplayer, a key aspect of this series. In the “New Super Mario Bros” franchise, it was possible to grab and throw people as well as collide with them while progressing through the level. While this could be annoying, these mechanics made it fun to collaborate to grab a hard collectible or find a secret in an unreachable spot, or just to cause anarchy. These mechanics were what made local multiplayer chaotic and crazy, and it was awesome. Sadly, Wonder does not include any of these mechanics. When I played this game with some friends, the absence of these mechanics created a disconnected feeling between each player  because we couldn’t interact with each other except for saving their ghost after they got hit. We stopped playing after the third level because it just didn’t feel like we were doing anything with each other, which was a huge letdown. I would have preferred if there was an option to enable these features so people who don’t enjoy having it on don’t have to use it, but if tomfoolery is wanted, chaos can ensue with the click of a button.

A common complaint I’ve seen was that the online multiplayer is odd and not all that great, and I strongly disagree. The online multiplayer in this game was just like local but with the inclusion of friend races and being able to be in different levels and worlds, but still in the same map. Not having collisions whilst playing online is a good thing, because trolls and people with bad connection can’t mess the player up. I really enjoyed playing online in this game, and I had it on for the majority of my adventures in the Flower Kingdom.
Overall, I absolutely adore this game. Its stunning visuals, insane score, and incredible gameplay make this one of the best games I’ve ever played. Though there are some issues, for their first shot at a 2D Mario revamp, I think they knocked it out of the park. I am super excited to see what they do with the next game. I truly believe this is the best platformer on the market right now, and it’s the perfect grab for those looking for a lighthearted, fun experience.

 

Story updated Dec. 03, 2023 at 5:46 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Kage Tudor, Staff Writer/Photographer

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