It’s-a me, Mario! I tried announcing that on the street one day, but mostly had garbage and tomatoes thrown at me, and I think I also got mugged. I guess not everyone has the panache and flair to pull off being the world’s most famous plumber, especially now that he’s become a major movie star.
We’ll have to resign ourselves to pretending, but thanks to games like Super Mario Bros. Wonder, it’s possible to really embody Mario’s overalls. The second original adventure for the Switch, after Super Mario Odyssey, this return to 2D platforming guarantees that you’ll be hooked on the brothers. And the Princesses. Maybe Toad. Definitely Yoshi.
Diplomacy is always a little touchy, but it’s hard to think of a better delegation than the Mushroom Kingdom crew! Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Toad and the rest are all off to the neighboring Flower Kingdom to establish relations, set up trade routes, write treaties…all that good stuff. Naturally this lasts for all of five minutes before Bowser shows up. He steals the Wonder Flower from Prince Florian, gaining bizarre cosmic abilities, and promptly gets to work taking over the world yet again. It’s up to the Mushroom folks to hop, bop and zip their way to victory against the Koopa King yet again. Bowser’s about to learn that even diplomatic immunity has its limits.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a 2D platformer in the style that people worldwide have come to know and love. You’ll hop on baddies! You’ll avoid bottomless pits! You’ll collect power-ups, including some newcomers like the Elephant Suit and Drill Hat! That Elephant Suit’s a winner, by the way – plenty of variety, from being able to easily smash blocks and bap enemies with its trunk, but not quite as overpowered as Mario 3D World’s Cat Suit. There’s secrets to explore, coins to grab and plenty of Wonder Seeds to hunt down in order to unlock new stages and progress.
Everything’s pretty standard so far, sure, but those bizarre cosmic abilities we talked about a little bit ago are what makes Super Mario Bros. Wonder an innovative twist on the Mario formula. Sometimes while you’re scrounging around in a stage you’ll come across a Wonder Flower. Grab it and…who knows what will happen? Chances are the stage is going to go completely nuts in wholly memorable fashion. It might be a stampede, it might be the iconic Mario pipes turning into snakes, it might even be an impromptu musical number – you never know, but it’s always awesome, always wacky, and it gives you a chance to see a different side of each stage and collect more Wonder Seeds in the process.
One additional feature that merits mention is Wonder’s online functionality, to say nothing of its multiplayer writ large. You can, for all intents and purposes, play any stage with a bunch of other players at once. They’re ghosts, much like Dark Souls, so trolling isn’t really a concern, but it’s nice to see them work with you in a stage. It’s also pretty nice these specters can revive you if you die, so there’s a practical benefit to playing online as well. There’s a great sense of community and camaraderie associated with this feature, adding an entirely new dimension to classic Mario gameplay.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder shows the Switch still got a little life left in it. Mario charm oozes from every gooey pore, forming a viscous layer of graphical splendor. Sorry if you were eating just now, by the way, but at least you won’t get motion sickness since Wonder runs like a liquid dream with outstanding animation and so much personality in each character. Combine that with the usual fantastic sound design, including new voice acting (Mario’s longtime voice actor Charles Martinet has ceded the role to Kevin Afghani) and a soundtrack just as trippy as the visuals and you’ve got something truly special.
Really, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a winner writ large. Combine classic platforming gameplay with clear, explicit efforts to innovate with new ideas and it’s hard to mess things up. This is Mario at his best, both as a character and a concept, making it a nigh impossible experience to pass up. Grab some friends – even kids if you want, since there’s invincible characters available for the new gamers among us – and get ready to take a trip down the mushroom fantastic.