Genre: Platformer
Year: 2009
Developed by: Nintendo EAD
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Wii
Feeling Like: Wii Like to Party

Say what you will about the Wii; The crossover appeal for non-traditional gamers was colossal and the impact had never been seen before. Smartphones surely have taken that crown but waggling your bowling arm or trying to putt with a flick of your wrist was truly revolutionary from an industry point of view, if not from a gameplay standpoint.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii was the kind of game that demanded attention from everybody in the room; it had to. Four player co-operative platformers were extremely rare in 2009 and they’re not exactly prevalent nowadays either. This is not a game you can play silently. Collateral damage from your partners is ever present – if your goal is to beat the level and work together, you’re going to have to be watching the other players as much as yourself. Communicating your intentions, timing certain jumps and distributing power ups fairly is paramount to success. As usual, all it takes is one weak link for the chain to break; drinking while playing was encouraged, but it often meant funny betrayals took priority over progress.

The real genius of the Wii was how intuitive it was. Nobody I saw felt intimidated to pick it up. You could have 10 people watching and 4 playing and nobody was bored. Passing the controller felt natural and since there are only a few buttons in your arsenal, you weren’t ever confused. And if you were, it didn’t last long. And it would likely result in a hilarious death that would be commented on by all present viewers.

The controls felt much looser than previous Mario games. Floatier. I suppose the mechanics can’t feel exactly the same as previous, classic games in the franchise. When you add in three other players, the design and engine must change. It’s easy to get used to, and while the levels are challenging enough it’s hardly bang-your-head-against-the-wall difficult.

Much like how a Smash Bros. game operates, this is more of a party platformer than a typical platformer, but that’s where the fun lies. You’re not here for the mechanics, or brilliant level design – you’re here for fun with friends, regardless of skill level or motivation.

I say you’re not here for the brilliant level design, but the last few worlds are wonderfully creative. Par for the course for a Mario game. And just look how appealing that map screen is! I want to play right now! Since we may be hosting Christmas, I think it may be the perfect time to get the Switch version as an excuse to play with our niece and nephew and I’m getting more excited for it by the minute.

Our entire strategy of survival revolved around the bubble technique. Or, as we called it, BUBLAY. Any imminent death resulted in a collective shout of “BOOBLAY!!!!” Bubbling meant you were invulnerable to any sort of damage or pitfall, but if all four members were in a bubble, it resulted in a failure and back to the beginning of the level (or checkpoint) you went. It didn’t happen often, but when it did the collective shame and finger pointing commenced. All good naturedly, naturally.

A non-bublay player can relieve their comrade of temporarily imprisonment simply by touching it. This adds pressure to perhaps the lone survivor to rescue the group and continue on with the level. As we progressed further in the game, bublay-ing went from a convenient respite to a necessary strategy. Environmental dangers or perilous gaps or tricky timing meant that for our team to survive, a solo participant had to thrive. You go ahead, we’ll bublay back here. See you on the other side.

I always found it lame that two players were relegated to “Toad with a different color hat” status, but I guess you can’t have everything. This was a perfect entry for a residence that was packed with potential players, or for those who liked hosting. Between this, Wii Sports, Mario Kart Wii and a few others, there hasn’t been a system before or since that satiated and perfected the casual party video game.

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