Tuesday, June 13, 2006

VG REVIEW: New Super Mario Bros.

Nintendo, for Nintendo DS
rated E for Everyone (comic mischief), $34.99.

This is how you update a classic franchise.

After recently playing "Rampage: Total Destruction," the latest in seemingly endless revamps of classic games, I began to wonder if anyone knew how to take an older game and make it fresh again.

The answer is yes. Nintendo has taken a by-now familiar formula with "New Super Mario Bros." and made it feel, well, not new, but certainly not tired either.

"New Super Mario Bros." is the first official Mario title since "Super Mario Sunshine" back in 2002 (that’s assuming you don’t count spin-offs like "Paper Mario" and "Mario Party").

It’s not really a fresh take on everyone’s favorite Italian plumber as it is an updated version of the classic formula. "Super Mario Bros. Remixed" may have been a better title.

Even the plot is overly familiar. Once again, Princess Peach has been kidnapped. Once again, it’s up to our hero to traverse a variety of hazardous landscapes in order to set things right.

A number of familiar powers and items, such as the flower that lets Mario hurl fireballs at his enemies, crop up here, but some new abilities have been added as well.

The Mega Mushroom, for example, allows Mario to grow to Gulliverlike proportions and step over anything that gets in his way.

Conversely, the Mini Mushroom lets Mario shrink down to minuscule size, enabling him to fit into tiny pipes and narrow corners.

There’s also a special blue Koopa shell that, when nabbed, lets him crash into his enemies, knocking them off the path entirely.

Other new features include a two-player version and a loose collection of touch-screen minigames, but those are more afterthoughts than anything else. It’s the single-player mode that will drive consumers’ interest.

So it’s a good thing that single-player mode is so utterly engrossing and challenging. Combining all the elements that have made the series so enjoyable in the past, "New Super" manages to evoke nostalgic memories of past games while at the same time feeling like a different sequel.

That’s no small feat. Especially in the world of video games.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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