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New Super Mario Bros.
game: New Super Mario Bros.
posted by: George Holomshek
publisher: Nintendo
developer: Nintendo
ESRB rating: RP (Rating Pending)
date posted: 12:00 AM Tue Jun 7th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Tue Jun 7th, 2005

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Back to basics.  That's exactly how I would describe the new Mario title coming to the Nintendo DS.  Its not that I have any big complaints about the current Mario games, but I would absolutely love another dose of classic Mario Bros. action.  This is, essentially, what Nintendo is giving us with New Super Mario Bros.?  It is tough to describe how a person can get so excited about something that is nothing but old material.  But I suppose the simple answer is it's just fun?.

The look of this new title could best be described as a juiced-up 2D side-scroller.  While the basic style may be the same as in previous editions, this one is a whole lot prettier thanks to the DS.  This time around, Mario will travel through worlds that are both 2D and 3D in their design.  There is also lot more animation in everything from enemies to the levels themselves.  However, for some reason the level backgrounds don't seem to have as much character or liveliness as in previous titles.  This is something I hope will be addressed in these final months prior to release.  

In addition to more and better animation, there are also several new gameplay mechanics.  More interactive levels are a welcome addition with platforms that tilt and fall.  New moves, at least in the 2D games, include pressing down on the d-pad while in midair to perform the butt-pound as well as the ability to wall-jump to reach those more difficult platforms.  Also, reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3? and Super Mario World?, you can now keep up to three items in reserve to use any time you need.  These are easily viewable on the touch-screen and drop from the sky with a quick tap of the finger or stylus.  And there is also my personal favorite, the addition of mushrooms which allow Mario to grow to gargantuan sizes and crush absolutely anything that stands in his way.

Taking advantage of the DS's two screens, the view has been cleared up and gives me a perspective I never knew I wanted.  The screen on which the action takes place is for that and only that.  Everything else, including score, time remaining, lives, coins, and reserve items has been moved to the second screen.

Of course, the big addition is the superbly fun multiplayer mode that makes use of the DS's wifi capabilities.  With one player controlling Mario, the other Luigi, players race through three, differently themed, side scrolling levels.  But this isn't just some run and jump competition; there are several tricks you can use to slow your opponent.  You can physically assault your foe by jumping on them and mashing them to the ground, or you can use a lightning bolt to shrink them down to little more than a speck on the screen.  To prevent players from being completely taken out of contention by the inevitable fall into the abyss, floating rings are used to mark the player's place and resurrect them at the most recently passed ring.

This game looks to be must have for Mario fans and side-scroller fans alike.  The old-school Mario action is awesome, and the addition of wireless multiplayer will make things even better.  Scheduled for release later this year, chalk up one more title to the DS's already bright holiday lineup.