I am a Mario fan; of this, there can be little question. And while I have thoroughly enjoyed all but his most offbeat of adventures (hello, Sunshine), I would have to say that New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii are two of my favorite games. Not just my favorite Mario games, but favorite games, period.
If I were to point out one single flaw with either title, it is how long it took for them to come out. Super Mario World, the last traditional 2D Mario game to be released for a console prior to the New games (for the record, I count Yoshi’s Island as more of a Yoshi game than a Mario game), was released in North America at the end of 1991. And while some series have had worse waits for revivals (hello, Bionic Commando), 15 years was still one heck of a long time to wait before New Super Mario Bros. came to the Nintendo DS in 2006. It was one of the first titles previewed for the system, yet that and that alone told me that I simply must own a Nintendo DS.
I figured that after such a long wait, it might be some time before we saw another 2D Mario game, and even then, I had resigned myself to expecting it on a portable– the final frontier for 2D gameplay (well, that, or downloading). Imagine my surprise when Nintendo unveiled another New Super Mario Bros. at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo– and it was for the Wii, no less! That holiday season, the game would go on to sell out at retailers all across North America, and helped pick up Wii sales nicely, too.
The Fan Factor
As E3 2011 looms, we are left to wonder if another New Super Mario Bros. game will be announced at the show… and just how long they can keep up the “New” prefix without it becoming some sort of self-parody. Of course, between then and now, we also got Super Mario Galaxy 2, another fantastic game. That was another surprise in itself– three Mario games for a single console? Not counting remakes, we haven’t had anything of the sort since the NES!
But even so, it leaves fans in a bit of a weird place. With no announcements and no such thing as a “sure thing,” it is understandable that they might feel a little jittery, given the 18 year gap between 2D Mario console games. To that end, some have opted to take matters into their own hands and modify New Super Mario Bros. Wii to create their own 2D Mario games.
Proof of Concept
I’m not really an advocate of emulation or modifying consoles, personally; I don’t know the first thing about modding consoles, and would not be much help in explaining how to do it. Nor am I a fan of piracy, though I don’t think it really counts in this case. Sure, it might count as something legally gray, but I don’t think piracy is it… unless they pirated the original game. I have no idea, one way or the other.
Nonetheless, the following two fan games, whose videos I had been linked to on YouTube, demonstrate some fantastic concepts which I believe should be shared with other fans, and which I think Nintendo should pay attention to. Some parts are a little rough, but I believe the developers at Nintendo could go the distance.
Seriously, Nintendo: you make it, and we’ll buy it. I’ll be there on Day One.
Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii
The first game is called “Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii,” and you can view the trailer by clicking the link above. Slated for a November 2011 release, it is described as “a full hack of New Super Mario Bros. for Wii, created by a team of devoted Nintendo fans” which “features over a hundred new levels, plus new maps, music, gameplay mechanics, graphics, enemies and more.”
Viewing the video, you can see how it’s more of the same, which isn’t a bad thing in this case. But there is variety, too, as Mario travels into what appears to be some sort of temple filled with jungle growth all around, a lava-filled ice cavern, and some haunted woods.
Of added interest are the return of two Mario worlds we have not seen since Super Mario Bros. 3: a giant world and a pipe world. While there was at least one “galaxy” of giants in Super Mario Galaxy 2, that’s another matter entirely; this brings back one of the most memorable experiences of the NES classic. And really, if Mario himself could easily become a giant through the resizing of rendered characters in New Super Mario Bros., why not everything else? Meanwhile, the pipe world seems to put a new twist on the original concept by featuring more action “inside the pipes,” using the special cutaway feature seen in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
It appears that Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii will be loaded with fresh content and some new twists on old ideas. And sometimes, that’s all you really need– the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented every time, so long as the quality of the product remains. Hopefully Nintendo has something similar in store, or might take a few cues from this on how to approach a sequel.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Retro Remix
The video above (another can be seen here) goes in a completely opposite direction. As the name implies, rather than providing new content and worlds, Retro Remix instead freshens up the classics we have come to know and love.
In fact, the truth of the matter is that despite selling out twice, there are some fans who were disappointed by the Wii release of Super Mario All-Stars, as it was very literally the 16-bit version of Super Mario Bros. 1–3 and The Lost Levels placed on a disc and sold at retail with a few off-disc extras. The copyright dates hadn’t even been updated, nor the Super NES controller map on the file select screen.
Admittedly, Nintendo made little secret about what people were getting. Nonetheless, some fooled themselves into thinking that Nintendo was going to remake all four (five, including Super Mario World, for the really hopeful) games in the New Super Mario Bros. Wii engine. Who wouldn’t want that?
Well, that is essentially what New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Retro Remix is… well, halfway, at any rate. While there does not seem to be anything for Super Mario Bros. 2, 3, or World, these fans have set out to recreate the original Super Mario Bros. and its Japanese sequel for super players, The Lost Levels, using the New Super Mario Bros. Wii engine.
The concept is similar to what Super Mario All-Stars is, updating the classics with contemporary graphics and remixed soundtracks, among other flourishes. Even the Bros.’ clothing has been changed to resemble how they appeared in the art of the day, with blue shirts and red/green overalls.
And it’s a great concept, though the execution needs a little work, though this is likely little fault of the fans developing this game. A Fire Brother is simply no replacement for Bowser, plus seeing the victory text before you even defeat him are just a couple of examples of this. And that’s not even counting the slowdown of the first video, the retained cutscenes (such as they are), or the unchanged world maps, among other things distinct to New SMBWii.
What is more impressive is the attention to detail, as the backgrounds are set to resemble those in the original games more, but with modernized graphics. They even have the night sky in World 3, which was always a favorite of mine for that reason.
But the idea is sound; just think of what Nintendo themselves could do with the idea, if they wanted to!
In addition, one might notice that the physics– that is, the way Mario moves and the things he can do– are still rooted in New Super Mario Bros. Wii as well, which would make replaying the games an interesting experience. Just imagine what one might be able to do in the original games if they had the wall jump, triple jump, or even the mid-air spin, as they demonstrated. One of the reasons the New games are favorites of mine is due to how much control I have over Mario.
Naturally, there are some purists who would rather have the physics as they were, with minimal mid-air redirection and such. Maybe even give up the ability to go back to the left, as we saw in the first video. Is there any reason there could not be an option to toggle between the classic-style movement and the New style?
This would be easy money for Nintendo, and would be a great way to add a little more life to the Wii, Project Cafe or no. Most of the work is done; just add some appropriate graphics to update those from the original tile sets, remix the five songs featured, put it on a disc, and rake in the dough.
…of course, if they wanted to similarly update Super Mario Bros. 2, 3, and World (after all, Yoshi and the Koopalings are already in, right?) on that same disc, who would even think of trying to stop them?
Thank You Mario! But…
It has been great to finally get some more 2D Mario again, after all these years. Hopefully, Nintendo won’t forget about it for another 15, and with any luck, maybe they’ll even be inspired by what their fans are doing.The upcoming Super Mario game for the Nintendo 3DS looks like it’s going to be great, but that’s another flavor of Mario entirely.
If I may borrow the food metaphors Japan seems so fond of in situations like this, the two are like hamburgers and steak: they may come from the same animal, but are two completely different dishes. Some people don’t want to eat too much of one or the other, as they might get tired of it. And others still may prefer one dish with no care at all for the other.
This simply signifies our hope that Nintendo remembers to keep providing variety, even if it’s just in the types of Mario games they make.
Then again, maybe the New Super Mario Bros. titles are still selling well enough that Nintendo doesn’t think there is a need for a new one yet (come on, think of us who already bought, played, and beat them!).
Oh, and as an aside… if Nintendo would make a New Play Control! version of Super Mario Sunshine which improves on the original a bit, I would love to check that out.