Title: Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Release Date: October 20, 2023
Reviewed On: Switch
Super Mario Bros. Wonder presents Mario’s newest, and perhaps strangest, adventure yet. Mario, Luigi, Peach, and others journey to the Flower Kingdom to celebrate with the kingdom’s ruler, Prince Florian. However, their festivities are abruptly interrupted by the unexpected appearance of Bowser. Utilizing the power of the kingdom’s wonder seeds, Bowser merges with Florian’s palace. Alongside Bowser Jr., they aim to seize control of the Flower Kingdom and extend their dominance worldwide.
In Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Mario and his friends once again embark on a mission to thwart Bowser. They must recover the stolen wonder seeds and rescue the Poplin citizens whom Bowser has trapped inside their homes, with the assistance of Florian himself. Throughout their journey, they encounter the peculiar effects of the kingdom’s wonder flowers, each triggering unique and unexpected events upon interaction.
The central feature of Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the wonder flowers. When players interact with a wonder flower, the current level undergoes a bizarre transformation, introducing various unexpected effects. Whether it involves enemies spontaneously breaking into musical numbers, a stampede of Bulrushes sweeping through the level, or characters assuming strange shapes, each wonder flower’s effect sends players on a thrilling adventure to collect the seed and reach the level’s end.
I particularly enjoyed the wonder flower effects, such as the musical numbers performed by enemies like the Piranha Plants. It was tempting to spare the singing Piranha Plants during these effects. Collecting wonder seeds is crucial for those eager to explore the Flower Kingdom to its fullest. Players need specific quantities of wonder seeds or purple wonder coins at various points to unlock new levels, encouraging enjoyable backtracking. Some levels cleverly hide the extra wonder seeds, necessitating several revisits. I was pleasantly surprised to find some wonder seeds in unexpected places, often stumbling upon them by accident.
The game’s unconventional levels and the option to team up with friendly apparitions while playing with others outside your core group add an extra layer of enjoyment.
Certain levels focus solely on the wonder effects, requiring players to find the wonder seed or reach the level’s end. Playing with friends enhanced the experience, as Super Mario Wonder supports up to four players, featuring familiar characters and new additions like Princess Peach, various Yoshis, and Princess Daisy, making her first mainline Mario appearance since Super Mario Land in 1989. However, unlike previous games, these characters lack unique abilities, with abilities now provided via badges acquired in levels, offering various advantages like wall jumping, faster swimming, or floating with a cap.
A Fresh Take on 2D Mario
For a more relaxed experience, players can choose Nabbit or Yoshis, who are impervious to enemy attacks but can still fall into bottomless pits or encounter lava. Badges play a significant role, with the swim and cap badges proving particularly useful. As the game advances, players collect increasingly interesting and valuable badges as they explore the six different parts of the Flower Kingdom. Each location introduces new obstacles, power-ups, and a Poplin shopkeeper offering one-ups, additional badges, and wonder seeds in exchange for wonder coins.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder features a variety of power-ups, including classic favorites like the fire plant, as well as new additions such as the drill mushroom, bubble flower, and elephant fruit, which allows characters to transform into a large elephant with unique abilities. Players can also mute the talkative flowers in the game settings for a quieter experience.
Bonus levels provide extra wonder seeds through tasks like collecting secret coins or completing badge challenges. Toward the end of each part of the Flower Kingdom, players confront a corrupted wonder palace taken over by Bowser Jr. The battles against Bowser Jr. are more engaging than in previous games, as players can turn the wonder effects to their advantage, making these encounters enjoyable.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder distinguishes itself from earlier 2D Mario games with its zany visuals, catchy music, expanded character roster, and unique and unconventional levels, providing a fresh Mario gaming experience. Playing with friends enhances the enjoyment of the game.
Super Mario Wonder stands out as a refreshing addition to the 2D Mario series. Its whimsical visuals, infectious music, expanded character roster, and unconventional levels give players a new and exciting Mario gaming experience.
For those seeking to play with players outside their immediate friend group, the game offers the option to play with ghost apparitions who appear throughout the levels. These apparitions can provide power-ups, place standee signs for bonuses, and even offer encouragement or revival if a player dies. This feature is available to Nintendo members playing online and proves helpful in tackling the game’s more challenging levels.
A Vibrant Addition to the Mario Universe
Super Mario Bros. Wonder ushers in a new era for Mario games, injecting a dose of zany fun with its vibrant visuals, catchy tunes, and diverse character lineup. The game’s unconventional levels and the option to team up with friendly apparitions while playing with others outside your core group add an extra layer of enjoyment. It’s a delightful addition to the Mario universe, bringing a fresh and thrilling twist to the 2D Mario series, making it a must-play for fans of the franchise.
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