Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review
I’ve never been a huge fan of 2D Super Mario Bros. games. I’ve dabbled in all of them, and even enjoyed a course or two, but it’s been a while since I actually finished one of those games from the beginning to the end. Super Mario Bros.
Wonder is hitting differently for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older and the simplicity of 2D intrigues me, or if Nintendo is doing something wonderful – see what I did there? – that I just cannot resist. It’s probably a whole lot more of the latter if I’m being honest. Regardless, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is one of this years best titles, with very few things to be concerned about. Let’s dive in!
A wonderful story
I’m always intrigued when Nintendo opts to NOT have Princess Peach captured by Bowser, and this is again the case with Super Mario Bros. Wonder. In fact, you can play through the entirety of the game as Peach if you wish, which I have greatly enjoyed.
Instead, the Mushroom Kingdom residents are invited to the Flower Kingdom for a light party, but things quickly take a turn for the worst when Bowser crashes the party, steals the Flower Kingdom’s central castle, and begins wreaking havoc on the residents. It’s up to Mario and his team of friends to crush power and save the Flower Kingdom.
The new characters introduced are interesting enough, although your interactions with them seems pretty minor. I’m not shocked by this, and since the game uses very little written text to tell the story, it’s even harder to learn more about the places you are visiting and the friendly faces you are seeing along the way.
Still, it’s enjoyable enough and provides the catalyst for what you will be doing throughout your lengthy adventure. Super Mario Bros. Wonder isn’t winning any awards for their storytelling, but what 2D Mario game does. It’s not why you are playing.
Bright colourful worlds that only Nintendo seems to produce
It doesn’t matter if you are exploring the depths of a castle, or swimming above the clouds, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is full of vibrant and beautiful worlds and levels. While they always feel rather unique, I remain impressed how Nintendo can produce such a coherent set of levels that are as beautiful to look at as they are to play through.
Graphically, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is showing off Nintendo at its finest – while it hits different than games like The Legends of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, it still goes down as one of the prettiest games you will play in 2023, regardless of console!
My favourite aspect of Super Mario Bros. Wonder however is how Nintendo has lightly used past enemies and heavily focused on new nemesis’ for Mario and his team to defeat. Some enemies feel somewhat familiar, although they are given new abilities and features.
Others are brand new, and work into the various levels brilliantly. It’s refreshing to play through a Super Mario Bros. title and not instantly have some kind of understanding of how each enemy type works. With so many new enemies showcased, you’ll at least be kept guessing the first few times you encounter each.
Main characters with new badge powers
The main characters are equally as satisfying to play, although Nintendo has opted here to keep all of them relatively similar in terms of how they play. This allows fans to play as any of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Toadette, Daisy etc. without feeling like they are missing out on a feature another character possesses.
Nabbit and Yoshi are this iteration’s “cheat” characters which ultimately just makes the game more accessible to more audiences.
The abilities characters will have throughout their adventure isn’t tied to who they are, but rather what badge they are using. If you’ve played a Mario and Luigi RPG game, Paper Mario, or even the original Super Mario RPG, you’ll have an understanding of what badges are.
Badges are unique items that can be equipped which provide benefits to a character until the badge is changed. In other games, multiple badges can be equipped and used based on badge points, but here players will have the ability to use one unique badge prior to entering a level.
There are so many badges to unlock and find, ranging from very useful to somewhat forgettable. Early on, I enjoyed having the badge that allowed me to use my hat as a parachute or to climb up walls. Less useful, however, was the badge that provided for coins when defeating enemies.
Seeds galore, most of them wonderful
The Wonder jokes write themselves here, don’t they! The biggest feature in Super Mario Bros. Wonder are the Wonderseeds you will find throughout levels, and how they will change how you play said levels.
There is so much variety in what these Wonderseeds can do – or more accurately what the Wonder Effects do – and while you might see some familiarity as you get deeper into the game, they are still wonderful – I can’t help myself – to behold.
This does highlight my only concern with the game – when Wonder Effects happen, and you are given a certain amount of time to find the Wonderseed, I find that this chaotic experience, while fun, is going to be overly challenging and frustrating for some players.
As such a key and pivotal part of the experience, I think this ratchets up the difficulty in ways people might not be ready for. With practice comes success, of course, but even myself, and experienced gamer, had issues with some of these moments. It’s going to be a challenge for some, and more than few are going to come out not enjoying those experiences, and perhaps ultimately not enjoying the game as a whole.
Nothing quite like it in 2023
This is one of my favourite games of 2023, and probably more enjoyable to me than The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The multiplayer gameplay is phenomenal, and being able to connect online with others, while something Nintendo should have been doing for a while now, is fantastic! Playing with friends online is a lot of fun. The use of standees and the points you earn seems so simple, and is yet such a great new feature.
This is Nintendo at its best, and proves yet again that anything is almost possible on the Nintendo Switch. If you are looking for the next thing on an ageing console, this is it.