At the time of writing, New Super Mario Bros. for DS had an average review score of 93 (according to Metacritic). Most praise the game for pure platforming goodness with a 3D twist, while others criticize a lack of originality. Here’s a sampling of the reviews:
- IGN 95 – “Before New Super Mario Bros. entered my life, Yoshi’s Island was, to me, the greatest platformer ever created. That title may now have to go to New Super Mario Bros.“
- GameBrink 91 – “While it lasts, it’s some of the best platforming to date and features what I consider to be the best Nintendo DS graphics to date. While it’s a shame the new power-ups are frills and the length of the main game is ridiculously short, it’s hard not to recommend it.”
- 1UP 80% – “Nintendo’s crafted a thoroughly enjoyable game here, a solid portable experience packed with everything that makes Mario so great — challenge, fanservice, secrets. Everything except brash imagination.”
I’ll jump right into this, New Super Mario Bros. is what I’ve been waiting for, for a long time. I couldn’t tell you how long I wanted a new Mario platformer that took everything I knew and loved about the series and brought it into a whole new light. I loved the simple plot (Bowser Jr. takes Princess Peach, the end), I loved the animation of all the characters (especially the way the pirana plant’s twist up and the way the Whomp’s fell down and got up), and I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever played a Mario Platformer before got pure pleasure the first time they got the super mushroom and ran through the level smashing shit left and right (See first image below).
New Super Mario Bros.’s map plays like Mario 3/Super Mario World, where you’re presented with different spaces to land on and can enter the world (See image 3 below). The outer map also has some elements of Mario Party in that you need certain items to get through road blocks and the angle that you look at the map reminds me of Mario party too. A nod to Super Mario Bros. 3 is that “bad guys” shuffle around the map and if you land on them you have to fight. Another thing that I really thought was great was that once you cleared a world you could simply touch the world you wanted to go to and you would be there. The other nice touch screen touch feature is that you can keep one item in reserve and just tap it if you need it. The bottom screen is also used to amplify the illustion of going “down” into pipes. Whenever Mario goes down a pipe, the action is shifted onto the bottom screen, giving the feeling you just went under. It’s the same type of thing that Zelda: Four Swords for the GameCube and GBA connection did.
I really see the original Mario Bros. and SMB3 influences, flag at the end of level, fireworks when you clear a level, Lakitu throwing spiked shells at you (and you can even steal his cloud), sliding down sloped platforms, riding the scale platforms that drop if you sit on it too long, dropping Bowser into lava by hitting a switch, the button that turns coins into bricks, smaller castle before the end castle on each world, toadstool giving away items, hammer brothers, and the list goes on and on.
The 3D platformer looks great. There is a lot of very nice eye candy. Lava ashes floating in the air, flowing water, rotating character animations in 3D, and a lot more.Ã‚Â I also thought the response of the game was great, I’m so glad that you could back track and change trajectory in mid air (unlike MB1), and I loved the fact that they brought in the classic “ground pound” from SMB64.
The level design is really great, at first it seems linear, but then you realize that there are lot’s of options in each level that bring you to different places and you have to go back sometimes to gather the large coins in each level. There are 3 large coins per level, which help you proceed because your progress is sometimes blocked until you have gathered enough large coins and you can also use them to go alternate routes on the map.
This game gave me everything I wanted from it, it made me feel like I was 6 years old again playing the original in 1986 on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The graphics and level design seem to have grown exactly at the same rate as my brain. In 86′ the graphics were amazing and the levels were just challenging enough for me then, today the same still holds true with New Super Mario Bros. I don’t think many games can make a game 20 years later and allow you to re-live the experience you had then.