Support Andy, click to buy via us...
New Super Mario Brothers is another example of a modern re-telling of an older game experience. As with other games that take this approach, it sticks to its Super Mario Brothers roots whilst drawing on improved graphics and sound available on the newer hardware of the DS. This may well be what Super Mario Brothers looked like if the DS was around back in the 80's.
Platform games task you with getting from point A to point B. The world you journey through is usually based on different levels, and populated with enemies, switches and lifts to be negotiated. As you work through each level you pick up various collectibles that accrue score, special abilities and access to hidden areas.
As with the original game on the NES in the 80's New Super Mario Brothers provides some finely honed platform gaming. Levels are well designed and balance both progression and exploration. There is always a reason to get to the end, but also many fascinating distractions along the way. There are various ways to dispense with and interact with enemies, here the game draws on lessons learnt in the more recent Super Mario Advance 2 (Super Mario World) GBA. It also adopts the now mandatory overworld map that both charts your progression and grants access to different paths through the game.
In addition to the power-ups from the original game there are new outfits and abilities. The Blue Koopa Shell enables you to wear a tortoise shell on your back - and to spin, dash and hide within it. The Mega Mushroom makes Mario grow to fill the screen and to run through both scenery and enemies. Finally, the Mini Mushroom makes Mario shrink to the diminutive Mini Mario, enabling access to tiny passageways and pipes normally to small to reach.
Whilst these are by no means revolutionary, New Super Mario Brothers reminds us how good the platforming genre can be when it is well executed. Attention to detail and ingenious design are used to impressive effect and make this a testament to what makes a good Mario platforming game.
Although completing a Mario game is certainly satisfying it is really the hidden tricks and power-ups that get players most excited. Within this miniature world has been placed hidden doorways, coins, pipes, enemies and power-ups. Finding a new secret feature after the tenth play through of a level has a real sense of achievement that is rarely found in gaming.
That said, this game is lacking the ingenious dashboard of achievements (that was added to Super Mario Advance 2 (Super Mario World) GBA) something that would have made it easier to justify repeat plays of levels until you know you have found all the hidden items. As it stands you never quite know if there is more to do in a particular area.
As with many games, a single level can be played in less than five minutes. But again to get the best out of New Super Mario Brothers you really need to invest more time. It's only when you really dig into the level design and push the game to its explorable limits that the enjoyment really increases.
New Super Mario Brothers has a PEGI rating of 3+ with no content indicators, and as such is easily suitable for most players. Very young gamers may struggle with the exacting left/right and jump controls needed to navigate the platforms. There are also some themes, such as the kidnapping of the princess and gobbling Venus fly trap plants that may unsettle more sensitive young players.
This is certainly a much more crowd pleasing game than the original Super Mario Brothers and as such will appeal to a wider audience. Provided that younger and novice players are willing to acclimatise themselves to the left/right D-Pad and button controls they should soon start progressing well.
More experienced players, particularly those who have played other Mario platform games, may be surprised to find they will also need to get used to the controls as there is a little more momentum in play here than previously.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: