When the first New Super Mario Bros game on the Nintendo DS came out, I was excited about it. I’d been hoping for a 2D Mario Bros game to play for a while. Not that there was anything wrong with the concept of Mario in 3D, it just felt like the world of 2D platformer became a lot smaller when Mario left it behind, putting on his winged cap and taking to the sky on the Nintendo 64.
In contrast to that initial feeling towards the New Super Mario Bros game, you’d think I’d be happy that this year’s E3 brought us not just one, but two new New Super Mario Bros games, one for the WiiU, and a sequel for the first DS one on the 3DS. Combine that with the New Super Mario Bros Wii game that’s already out, and it’s sure that 2D Mario games are here to stay. So why am I not excited about this?
From the moment I played the first New Super Mario Bros game, I did not like it. Somehow, something just felt off about the game. About every aspect of the game. I recently went back to play it again, to try to see if perhaps I was wrong. The more I played it, the more the premise of the game started bugging me.
Let’s take it from the start as I work up to the biggest problem I have with New Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo DS.
All the old Mario games have very carefully streamlined level design. Each and every level is designed to have a great flow, so you could just run through each level smoothly if you want to race through it instead of collecting every item and brutally murdering every Goomba you see. Most Mario Bros 3 and Mario World stages let you run through it at a pace that puts Sonic to shame. It’s part of the magic that made classic Mario so great.
The level design in New Super Mario Bros is clunky, ugly, and has no regards to any sort of flow. Full of power-ups that have no place in most stages you find them in, abilities you’ll never need in the game itself like wall jumping, triple jumping. Both of these abilities get completely ignored by the designers of the levels. The Koopa Shell outfit gets in the way during platforming parts, and not a single level is designed with the idea of using the Giant Mushroom in.
It’s downright sloppy.
Graphically, New Super Mario Bros could have looked good, but again, the graphical style is sloppy. It looks like the game was made to be played at a higher resolution, awkwardly down-sized to the DS’s aspect ration. Try emulating an NES game on the DS, having the resolution stretch out to fit the entire screen. You’ll still be able to see everything in the game, but a lot of the moving elements of the screen feel like they’re badly stretched. Especially Mario himself.
Add to this that of the typical 8 worlds, you only have to play through 6 of them, and that you can just buy extra lives and items at special shops next to almost every stage later on and it just feels they want you to rush through the game as fastly as the creators did…
And that’s still not my big issue. All this just leads up the what made me quit the game before I realized what was really bugging me about it the entire time.
Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser Jr.
Let’s just let that sink in for a bit.
A baby. Just barely out of his diapers. Only doing evil to impress his great big dad. Rumors of who the mother is going around everywhere, especially fueled thanks to Mario Sunshine.
Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser Jr.
Okay, it’s not the first time this has happened. In Mario Sunshine, he had a magical wand which he used to turn himself into Mario so he could get rid of him. It made a lot more sense for that kid to pose a problem for a hero if he’s got some special magical weaponry at his disposal, especially if he can use it to turn authorities against Mario.
None of this happens in New Super Mario Bros though. Bowser Jr. just straight out grabs Peach and runs off with her. Mario chases after him. Somehow, Bowser Jr manages to keep ahead of Mario.
There is just so much wrong with all of this.
First of all, Peach has been kidnapped by a Bowser Jr. of all people. Bowser doesn’t even need to go out there and do it himself, she’s just that easy to kidnap that he can send his son out on an errand to do it for him in the same way a mother would send her kid out do pick up some groceries after school.
With the way Peach keeps getting kidnapped, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bowser just sends out a Koopa or a Goomba to do it in the near future.
And while Mario is making his way through the stages, so is Bowser Jr. Not only that, Bowser Jr. is actually keeping ahead of Mario. All those platforms Mario is jumping? Bowser Jr. passed that. All the hard to time environmental hazards? No sweat for Bowser Jr.
That little kid is outperforming Mario. In his own game. Mario is chasing Bowser Jr. and can’t keep up. At each and every castle Bowser Jr. stops to wait for Mario to catch up to him.
That’s just sad. A once great hero, fallen from glory, reduced to chasing babies, and having trouble to keep up with it.