This week, Morgan reviews New Super Mario Bros Wii. There was meant to be a joke here, but it was forgotten in the time it took to get the title down.
Is it kosher to compare the Mario series to the final days of Jesus Christ? Nintendo can publicly execute both him and his image in the most excruciating of ways, only for him to pop back up again three days later, his cartoonishly adorable nose unblemished and the rest of his body ready to be abused again.
Though I have severe doubts that this is any lust for life on Mario’s part; chances are he’s desperate for his final ascent to heaven, but Nintendo would like to keep him on this plain of mortal torment for the next five hundred years or so, thank you very much. No, Mario’s just reached his limit and is looking for something, anything, to end it all.
That at least being my explanation as to why in New Super Mario Bros Wii, he handles like a border collie in a motor scooter trying to descend a twelve-storey staircase.
I know, I know, “maybe if you used an actual Wii instead of an emulator, things might have been smoother and perhaps a tad more legal, yeah?”, but come on. Saving up for an actual Wii console is a long, dreary affair that would take a grand total of two days, not to mention the fact that once this review is published, I’ll have no need of the thing again.
As part of the increasingly ironically-named New Super Mario Bros debacle, this is about as cookie-cutter as you can get. To illustrate my overall view, I’d like to dig up a prominent childhood memory of mine, having recently unburied it amidst all the subconsciously blocked trauma. I’m going to take you back to the days when I played the DS instalment, which I eventually completed – a rarity for me at the age of eight. I would be sat next to my father at the local secondary school, waiting for my brother to finish his football practice so we could go home, and I’d no longer have to sit there and weep over those fucking ice levels.
Hey, I never said it was a good childhood memory. But it helps illustrate the point that Mario will forever be stuck in this repetitive cycle, forced to save Princess Peach day after day, in a relationship that no doubt lost that romantic spark twenty-five years ago. He’s karted, went to the Olympics, played basketball, karted again, played golf (yet another prominent red flag for a man aging poorly) … He’s explored all walks of life by now and where has it led him? Right back to where he started, only this time with brighter lighting and more than one background colour.
So naturally, the Princess is kidnapped by Bowser, in a story so old it’s probably scrawled on the wall of a cave somewhere. This time, however, he’s got kids, further fuel to add to the fires of the “these-kidnappings-are-all-just-an-excuse-for-Bowser-and-Peach-to-engage-in-an-elicit-affair” joke. If it’s true, then it’s going to be rather hard for Peach to maintain the lie now that there are seven new bastard children running around; might as well break it to Mario straight and watch as he hurls himself into the nearest Goomba amidst a fit of grief.
It’s the usual slew of worlds: grass world, desert world, ice world, that one with the jungle where the rivers are purple like we’ve happened across Willy Wonka’s new drug plantation – I didn’t visit all of them; owing to time constraints and my dwindling will to live, I used the secret cannons you can unlock to skip a couple. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I didn’t miss anything too important. Probability states that boss fight number three-twenty-five most likely didn’t include vital information that would lead to the shedding of tears when I grabbed that Koopa Trooper’s shell and use it to mow down an entire row of his mates.
What with Wii pushing that fun-for-the-whole-family bullshit, this is the first Mario platformer to be a four-player and therefore the first to require four characters. Obviously, Mario and Luigi are here, but with four-player capabilities and two of the main characters off the table for story-related reasons, tensions must have been flaring high at Nintendo headquarters in the search for someone to be controlled by players three and four. I’m willing to bet their solution resulted in the last few creative minds this team had committing mass suicide because get this: the two friends on the bottom of your particular social group get to experience the pulse-pounding thrill ride of being two differently coloured Toads.
Then, back at Nintendo Towers, some genius auteur must have got up and said: What if, to push the cooperative angle, in which players are supposed to help each other, we programmed the collision physics in a way that they’ll bounce off each other’s heads and go flying into hazards roughly ninety percent of the time? Can we get HR on that, Clemens? Clemens? Oh, he’s thrown himself out of the window.
I don’t know what they were thinking with the player collision. It’s certainly not cooperative; let’s just get that out of the way real quick. The direction in which power-ups come out of item boxes are determined by a random number generator, but not individually: meaning that they’re borderline designed to all go to one player. One player who will leave what was once a fun get-together with friends to have all their shoes surgically removed from his rectum.
Returning once again to the Old Super Mario Mess DS comparison, it’s frankly astounding how little else has changed. You could effectively call the Wii version a four-gigabyte update that dreams of bigger things but constantly fails to do anything new, lest the psychotic creativity death-grip slacken. Sure, there’s a couple new power-ups that help you miscalculate airtime and land in pits a bit quicker, but other than new mascots, mechanics, and boss fights, it’s pretty much the same. I appreciate that that’s like saying DreamWorks’ Boss Baby has the same level of creative genius as The Godfather if you change the plot, settings, characters, theme, and title, but it really feels like they just rushed something out to divert the general public’s attention away from Mario Kart for once. None of it’s especially offensive, it’s just lazy – perhaps the worst sin of all.
And Mario Kart Wii was at least a better fit for multiplayer; it had split screen and none of those stupid squids who constantly hone in on you like you’ve got a sack of live bait up your jacksie.