Console Corner: Super Mario Bros. Wonder review - What a wonderful world
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And is it any wonder (see what I did there?), because this is the first traditional side-scrolling Super Mario game since New Super Mario Bros. U 11 years ago in 2012.
If you wondered (now I can’t stop) whether there is still an appetite for ‘old skool’ Mario in the era of modern gaming – the title sold 4.3 million units in its first two weeks, making it the fastest selling Super Mario game.
It is also living up to the hype, receiving critical acclaim – which I’m about to add to.
You can choose from eight characters including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Toad, Toadette, Nabbit and Yoshi and make your way across Flower Kingdom with assistance from its little floral inhabitants.
Each stage contains multiple collectible "Wonder Seeds" and new power-ups include a fruit that transforms the player your character into an elephant – which should surprise absolutely nobody given this is Nintendo.
There’s also a flower which allows you to create bubbles that capture enemies and a mushroom that gives your character a drill hat to burrow into the ground or ceiling to evade enemies or bypass obstacles.
Wonder introduces the Wonder Flower, which triggers bizarre effects such as pipes coming to life, hordes of enemies spawning, and character appearances and abilities changing. The effects end when you get a Wonder Seed or leave the area of the effect.
A big new feature allows players to equip badges, which unlock throughout the game, which are essentially perks and are divided into three categories: Action, Boost and Expert. Only one badge can be activated at a time per level and are pre-selected before you start a stage. Wonder also supports four players in local multiplayer and there’s some online multiplayer functionality too.
It all combines perfectly to give side-scrolling Mario – one of the founding fathers of video gaming – an infusion of new life and interest.
It’s the standard Mario trope, you’re chasing Bowser to retrieve the Wonder Flower and freeing the various regions of the Flower Kingdom along the way. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it as they say.
I’ve been playing Wonder for three weeks and I’m yet to get bored. It really is Wonder-ful. Not just in that it’s a magnificent game, but jam packed full of content and fun too.
This is the new gold standard for platform games, make no mistake. And it sets the benchmark for all future 2D Mario titles. It somehow manages to give off that nostalgic buzz while at the same time providing the kind of excitement that only comes with playing something shiny, new and seriously good. Nintendo has struck the perfect balance. Full of colour, creativity and unpredictability – you are kept on your toes and wondering what might be next throughout the entire experience.
The Wonder effects are the game’s crowning achievement but there’s plenty of new stuff which makes this a breath of fresh air such as new stage types and puzzles.
The badge system is a great enhancement and provides an element of strategy we perhaps haven’t seen in 2D Mario ever before.
And of course the audio and visuals are – as you would expect with Nintendo and Mario – just brilliant.
Game of the year contender without a shadow of a doubt.