Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading.
In this explanatory review, we’re covering Super Mario Bros. Wonder by developer Nintendo:
Super Mario Bros. Wonder (The Explanation)
Super Mario Bros. Wonder was quite a surprise to many of us when it was first announced. Many people thought that with Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch, it had all but eliminated any need for a new 2D Mario game for the console. Yeah, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe also graced the Switch with its presence, but the ability to create your own stages and play millions of user-created ones in Super Mario Maker 2 would deem any other 2D Mario game unnecessary at this point… or so we thought.
Enter Super Mario Bros. Wonder, the next installment of 2D side-scrolling and platforming fun in the Mario series. The game was first announced during the Nintendo Direct that was hosted back in June 2023 alongside a plethora of other Mario themed games like Super Princess Peach, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD, and Super Mario RPG.
In most Super Mario Bros. games, Princess Peach is usually kidnapped by King Bowser and it is up to Mario and Co to rescue her. This time around, Mario and friends are joined by Princess Peach and Princess Daisy and journey to the Flower Kingdom to visit Prince Florian. While there, Bowser is up to his old tricks again and steals the Flower Kingdom’s treasured Wonder Flower, as well as King Florian’s Castle.
“How does King Bowser steal a whole castle?” you may ask. Well, he uses the power of the Wonder flower and actually merges with the castle, becoming one with it! Bowser then leaves to accumulate more power with the Wonder Flower and it is up to Mario and friends to get it back and give that dastardly King Koopa a royal whooping!
That’s enough talk about the story of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, now it’s time to get to what everybody actually wants to read about, the gameplay. Much like previous Super Mario Bros. games, players must run and jump their way through a series of stages throughout theme worlds, collecting coins, items and other objects and reach the goal post at the end of each stage. Wonder Seeds and Flower coins can be found in most levels of the game and provide motive for exploration. They can be hidden in pipes and off-screen areas and not all of them are so easy to find, so you may have to keep a keen eye open to find them all.
As for who people can play as, Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad, and Yellow Toad have been series staples for some time but now, they are joined by the likes of Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Toadette, Yoshi, Red Yoshi, Yellow Yoshi, Light Blue Yoshi, and Nabbit.
Most of the characters with the exception of the Yoshis and Nabbit, are able to use power-ups found throughout the game’s stages like the fire flower, bubble flower, drill mushroom, and elephant fruit. On the flip side, the Yoshis and Nabbit are impervious to damage from enemies but can still die from pitfalls and lava, so some caution is still needed. Yoshis also have the extra benefits of a flutter jump and the ability to swallow enemies with their tongues.
Up to four players can play together locally or online. Character collision has been removed so players won’t have to worry about bumping into one another or accidentally picking someone up. If someone is playing as a Yoshi though, they can give other players a ride, including other Yoshis, should they desire. The online multiplayer is rather interesting as you can either create or find a room to play with friends, or you can simply connect online and have random players join you in stages. There will only be a maximum of four players in any one stage though so should there be two of you playing locally and have online connected, you can have two other players from around the world join you too!
The online play mode works very well, especially when playing with random players as they can come and go offscreen without disrupting your own playthrough and you may see them do something that you never thought off to overcome a particularly difficult obstacle. Some players have even taken it upon themselves to help other players online who may be struggling by helping to resuscitate them and also give them a much-needed power up should it be required.
Playing multiplayer also has its perks because should a player die, they will become a ghost should there be a standee or a player nearby and can be resuscitated without losing a life. Standees are another new feature that players can place in the game to help other players by pointing out secret blocks and providing resuscitation points near difficult sections.
Standees can be purchased from numerous vendors in the over world and require flower coins to purchase them. With about 144 different standees to purchase, they become another collectible that you will ultimately obsess with should you wish to 100% the game. Still, if you would prefer not to play with other players, you can always opt for offline play instead by selecting the online status option on the pause menu.
The level design is probably the biggest thing that sets Super Mario Bros. Wonder apart from any other Mario game that has come to pass. Pretty much every stage offers something different and refreshing and is literally full of wonder. The new addition of badges also provide new means of playing through stages like being able to glide, wall jump vertically, dash and jump long distances, and that is just a taste of what to expect. Badges can be bought from vendors and for taking part in challenge stages. One drawback to badges is that you can only attach one of them at a time. However, should you find the badge not to your liking, you can simply change it for another when you lose a life or when on the overworld screen.
To round out this EXPlay, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is wonderfully super in every sense of the word. It is one of the finest Super Mario Bros. games, I’ve ever played and I can honestly say that it will keep you engaged from the moment you pick up the controller, to the moment the credits roll. The talking flowers are an interesting concept and while it does feel weird not hearing Charles Martinet voice Mario and Luigi this time around, the new voice actor does a pretty decent job maintaining the energy and charm that Charles has.
When I first heard about Super Mario Bros. Wonder, I felt like it was the beginning of the end for Nintendo Switch as Nintendo seemed to be running out of ideas on what games they should bring next. I am happy to say though, that it is certainly not the case and am very pleased to say that Super Mario Bros. Wonder is definitely a must play for any Switch owner and Mario fan.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder (The Gameplay)
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Platformer, Action
No. of Players: 1-4 (Single System), 1-4 (Online)
Release Date: NA | EU: October 20, 2023
File Size: 3.5 GB