New Super Mario Bros (Nintendo DS)

EMERGENCY NEWS FLASH! Princess Peach has been kidnapped! While enjoying a nice walk with Mario, the beloved ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom was whisked away by an unknown assailant. How could this happen with Mario around? According to eyewitnesses, the walk was going swimmingly when Mario and the princess spotted smoke billowing out of Peach’s Castle. The mustachioed marvel immediately jumped into action and sped off toward the fire. The moment he left her side, the princess vanished! Who’s behind Princess Peach’s disappearance? Who’s behind the attack on Peach’s Castle? Are the two incidents related? Didn’t Bowser Jr. once think Princess Peach might be his mother? Looks like Mario’s going to need all the Mega Mushrooms he can find to get to the bottom of this mess!

New Super Mario Bros is Super Mario Bros all over again, but that ‘New’ in front of the title is what makes it extra special. Well, now that I’m actually reviewing this more than a decade after it was originally released, it’s definitely not new anymore, but I’m here to find out if the game is still worth playing today and in my case a second playthrough.

As I was saying, ‘New’ actually means that it’s the old style of Mario platforming action brought back for the Nintendo DS with a vengeance. It’s the old school platforming action everybody has experienced before Super Mario 64 had brought the series into 3 dimensions. The difference now is that with more processing power available, we have livelier worlds with brighter colours, sharper graphics and smoother animations.

The plot is also your standard fairytale drama. Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser Jr. and Mario has to travel through six worlds in order to get her back. There is a total of eight worlds, but in a couple of instances the paths between worlds fork out giving the player a choice as to which world to visit next. Each world has its own theme, and presents the player with varied challenges. The levels themselves are ingenious, and can sometimes be completed in different ways.

Mario has different powers at his disposal. The first powerup makes him grow larger and gives him the ability to break more stuff. The second powerup gives him a fireball and definitely makes it easier to dispose of the enemies. Then there are bonus one-off powerups; tiny Mario can go into the tiniest of cracks which are otherwise unreachable, while the big mushrooms transform him into a giant as tall as the screen to cause total destruction. Finally, there’s the turtle shell powerup, allowing Mario to shield himself from harm.

Each of the worlds contains ten levels. Bowser Jr. lies waiting in a tower halfway through each world, but every time he is defeated the evil turtle always manages to run away to the next castle or tower. Then at the end of each world lies a castle where one of Bowser’s special minions is waiting for you. These bosses are relatively easy to dispose of, especially if you have the fireball powerup.

It doesn’t take much time to finish the game and get the princess back home. However, mastering it and unlocking all the secrets will take some practice and this is where the game becomes special. There is also a two-player competitive mode, and a mini-games section to keep you occupied. I don’t fancy the mini-games much myself, I would just concentrate on unlocking all the secrets in the main game, which is surely one of the best games that you can play on the tiny screen.


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