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New Super Mario Bros review: New Super Mario Bros

The title may have the word "new" in it, but this latest Super Mario Bros game just bristles with old-school charm.

Randolph Ramsay
Randolph was previously a member of the CNET Australia team and now works for Gamespot.
Randolph Ramsay
3 min read

Mario -- time for a diet, mate.

9.0

New Super Mario Bros

The Good

Plays great -- tight controls and balanced gameplay. Looks outstanding. Good nostalgia trip for older gamers.

The Bad

Multiplayer modes a little ho-hum. Doesn't make use of the DS' full capabilities.

The Bottom Line

Mario fans will be pleased to know that New Super Mario Bros is yet another winner from Nintendo. It effortlessly captures the charm and challenge of the earlier Mario games, and looks great to boot.

The title may have the word -new" in it, but this latest Super Mario Bros game just bristles with old-school charm.

The new Super Mario Bros for the Nintendo DS is a real nostalgia trip for older gamers familiar with the Mario legacy. It's essentially the classic Mario 2D-platform gameplay with a 3D gloss, and it's just as fun to play as those old games.

That's not to say this is a blatant rehash of earlier Mario platformers. New Super Mario Bros features plenty of new elements, but sticks closely to the tried-and-true formula the previous games set. Long-time fans will be more than happy with the game's updated looks and challenge, while new players will experience an outstanding side-scrolling 2D-platformer -- a genre which is becoming increasingly rare.

The game's plot starts off much like every other Mario game -- Princess Peach is kidnapped (this time by Bowser Jr) and it's up to everyone's favourite Italian plumber to come to the rescue. Controls are similarly old-school, but with a few additional moves for Mario. The control pad is used to move Mario left and right, while the X button is for Dash and the A button for jump. Mario can also perform double jumps, slide for short distances, jump off walls and do butt stomps.

Most of the game's levels are simple side-scrollers, although there are some rolling levels that force you to continually be on the move. Locations are varied -- from grasslands and deserts to cloud tops and icefields -- but all contain classic Mario elements such as breakable blocks, springs, pipes and more. There are eight worlds overall, with each world made up of several levels. In typical Mario-style, some of these levels (and even a couple of worlds) can be skipped altogether should players find the required hidden shortcuts.

Mario's varied mushroom power-ups also make a comeback. As well as the typical grow mushroom (to turn Mario into his larger Super Mario self) and fire flower (to give Mario the ability to throw fireballs), New Super Mario Bros also features a couple of new power-ups. The most fun is the Mega mushroom, which turns Mario into an invincible giant that can run through all obstacles. There's also a new mushroom which shrinks the plumber so he can fit into small pipes and a blue koopa shell that Mario can use to defend himself with. These new power-ups, however, don't seem to pop up too often, so you'll end up relying mostly on Mario's fireball as your main offensive weapon.

Bowser's back!

The game is fairly challenging, although Mario experts from year's past will probably have no problem breezing through the game in a matter of hours. Opening each level and world will, of course, add more time to the overall experience, as will finding all of the secrets each level contains. The game's honed controls make the entire experience, no matter how brief it may be for you personally, a joy to play.

New Super Mario Bros also throws in a few multiplayer games. There's a two-player Mario vs Luigi mode for those who have friends with a DS, which see Mario and Luigi racing across levels to see who can collect the most stars. There are also multiplayer touchscreen games such as a whack-a-mole type activity featuring Luigi. These multiplayer add-ons aren't that compelling, however, particularly when compared to the main game.

While New Super Mario Bros is on the DS, it actually makes very little use of the DS's capabilities. The bottom touchscreen is rarely used (although some short levels are played using it), while the DS's built-in microphone is not utilised at all.

New Super Mario Bros looks bright and colourful -- the almost 3D characters and settings are lovely to watch. Sound and music is also well handled -- there are plenty of classic themes and sounds thrown in for that extra bit of nostalgia factor.

Mario fans will be pleased to know that New Super Mario Bros is yet another winner from Nintendo. It effortlessly captures the charm and challenge of the earlier Mario games, and looks great to boot.