Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review

10 years after the Year of Luigi (sorry bro), it’s Mario’s time to shine again with the release of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. Wonder. A new world with power-ups and adventure awaits – does this side-scroller have what it takes to be a superstar?

Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review

The Mushroom Kingdom is in the rear view mirror in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, with Mario’s party paying a trip to the Flower Kingdom this time around. However, Bowser has also come along for the ride, using the power of the Wonder Flower to become one with Prince Florian’s castle. Not one to take things sitting down (naturally), Mario’s wrecking crew sets out to right this wrong and save the poplins by collecting Royal Seeds strewn across the land.

Naturally, a bunch of danger awaits between here and there. Goombas and koopas still dot the landscape, sure, but now players must also contend with hopping hoppycats, voracious maw-maws, and other new threats that’ll summon the “Too Bad!” screen. This title is certified fresh, and learning how to overcome enemy patterns ensures players are never stationary or going through the motions.

And using the word “fresh” to describe Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the understatement of the year. Everything in this title features an incredible amount of polish, from the way the music changes with the Elephant Flower to the drum roll that comes from a ground pound. A serious amount of attention and love has helped create a truly whimsical experience, really hammering home that one is on an adventure. Even the little quips from the flowers, which would be obnoxious in other titles, had us actively seeking them out to see what they’d say next.

Naturally, a game with the word “wonder” would have to back that up, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder does that with its Wonder Flowers. Hidden in each level, these flowers turn things on their head and change the way the game is played. One level might have players navigating an avalanche or blizzard, while another will transform one of Mario’s friends into an enemy creature. The energy in these segments is infectious, and no two segments are ever the same. We tracked down as many Wonder Flowers as we could in our playthrough, and the impact they had on each level was astounding.

To aid in one’s Super Mario Bros. Wonder experience, players can collect power-ups along the way. The Elephant Fruit adds a bit of heft to each character by transforming them into an elephant, while the signature fireball-spewing Fire Flower is joined by the Drill Mushroom and Bubble Flower. These each subtly adjust the game, adjusting how one approaches each level.

There’s also the inclusion of Badges in this title to adjust each playstyle. Equipped on Prince Florian’s noggin, these badges can allow characters to do dolphin kicks, floating jumps, or even wall jumps straight up into the air. Need an easier experience? Other badges allow for players to equip a Super Mushroom at the start, activate exclamation blocks for easier traversal, and other perks.

If anything, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is as easy or as hard as one wants it to be. Select areas – and even worlds – can be played in the order one chooses based on the Wonder Seeds collected in each level. Finding the game a bit too challenging? Levels are ranked by difficulty, and the harder ones can be skipped entirely. Still too much? There’s even characters like the Yoshi crew and Nabbit that can’t take damage at the expense of not using power-ups. If all else fails, players can grind Flower Coins and stock up on 1-up mushrooms at one of the game’s many stores.

Of course, those looking for a challenge most certainly will find it tracking down every last secret exit and taking on the Special World challenges. These can be downright brutal; we won’t spoil some of the twists, but the way they utilize the game’s set of base mechanics shows how tailor-made – yet still fair – these trials truly are.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder once again proves that Mario is the king of the platforming genre. Much like his previous adventures did before, the amount of creativity and polish on display sets a new industry standard.

This review of Super Mario Bros. Wonder review was done on the Nintendo Switch. The game was purchased digitally.
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