Alex Vassilopoulos ‘23 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The Super Mario Brothers franchise has expanded into nearly every nook and cranny of the video game industry. Since his debut as Jumpman in 1981, Mario has been a tennis pro, a tactical combat strategist, a pro dance-battler, and so much more. However, when it comes to the main series games, one factor stands above all others: purely fun platforming. In an era where 2D platformers of all types are thriving, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, which released on October 20th, is a truly outstanding entry.
Since the release of New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS, every subsequent Mario platformer has been made with that game’s artstyle in mind. The clean, almost plastic-looking aesthetic was refreshing for the time, but the luster wore off a bit as it continued for seven years. Wonder switches things up by relying on a slightly more hand-drawn look and colors that pop off the screen in a style almost akin to the Super Mario Bros. movie. This stylistic change makes the experience feel newer from the second the game is booted up.
In terms of level design, the inclusion of “Wonder Seeds,” changes the game for the Mario franchise. In past games, levels would have some type of “Star Coin,” for players to collect that would unlock more levels and serve as a means for game progression, but that was it. In Wonder, the Wonder Seeds—this game’s Star Coin equivalent—are not only used to progress, but also to incite all sorts of wacky effects when interacted with. Whether it be Piranha Plants suddenly bursting into song, an impromptu skydiving sequence, or Mario transforming into a slimy blob, Wonder Seeds constantly keep the players on their toes and wondering what is coming next.
Besides the new elephant, bubble, and drill power-ups, Wonder also includes a new “badge,” system. As you progress, you collect various badges and can equip one before you begin a level. The badges have a variety of passive effects that take effect no matter what power-ups are being used. The badges that affect movement are particularly fun, allowing Mario to use his hat to glide, enabling a floaty Luigi-esque jump, an extra vertical wall jump, and so much more. Badges add an extra layer of complexity to the game that is both exciting for more experienced players and great for those who are just starting out and love using new Goomba-stomping moves.
All of these new features, along with buttery smooth performance, makes New Super Mario Bros. Wonder a game changer that is truly wonderful to play.