Super Mario Wonder
(available for Nintendo Switch only)
Super Mario Wonder is the newest 2D Mario game, offering a new take on the 2D Mario formula whilst still keeping its familiarity.
If you’ve played a 2D Mario, you know what to expect; this time Bowser has taken a Wonder Flower from the Prince of the Flower Kingdom and is wreaking havoc across the kingdom, Mario and friends have to stop him. The difference is that this time, you’re collecting Wonder Seeds, and there are two in each level- one for completing a special section of the game after finding a Wonder Flower, and the other for reaching the flag.
If you’ve also played the new Super Mario Brothers games and enjoyed them, you’ll be happy to know that 4-player co-op has returned, but now with a wider selection of characters. There’s Mario, Luigi, and Peach, but you also have Daisy, Toadette, several Yoshis, and Nabbit.
Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of the New Super Mario Brothers Games. I liked them, but they weren’t very ambitious, and by the time the 4th one came out, it definitely felt like they were oversaturating the market. I found it very interesting that when the Wii U version was ported to the Switch, there was very little fanfare for it.
Mario Wonder, on the other hand, really does succeed. It is a very different game compared to the new Super Mario Brothers games, and I think that it is maybe the most ambitious 2D Mario game in a long time.
It’s 2D Mario, of course, the gameplay is good. If you’ve played any Mario games before, you know what to expect. The powerups return, you have items like the Fire Flowers and the Stars, but there are a few new items as well. There’s the Bubble Flower, which certainly came in handy on a few occasions, the Drill Power Up, which took me a bit of time to get used to but worked pretty well, and most noticeably, the Elephant Fruit, which turns your characters into an Elephant so you can absorb water to fire at enemies and use your trunk as a weapon. It’s definitely my favourite of the new powerups and I made a beeline for it every time it was available.
The fact of the matter is, that there is a lot of innovation here. The major innovation comes in with the level design, but I won’t go into that too much in this section. But the gameplay really is phenomenal.
The saying is true, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.
- Level Design
While there aren’t as many hidden secrets in other Mario games, there are still a bunch of excellent levels. It feels like there was more of a focus on theming, and it helps that this game looks excellent and doesn’t feel overly plastic like the New Super Mario Brothers games did, by the end of their lifespan. The world feels brighter and more organic and less generic. Granted, the level themes aren’t anything we haven’t seen before- there’s beach, autumn, etc. But there are some cool ideas here and it felt like each level had its own challenges.
Each level has several collectables, there are badges that you can equip for new abilities, plus the coins that are used to buy things from the item shop, and each level contains 3 high-value coins to collect. If you’re struggling to find them, there is an item you can get later, that acts as a radar.
There’s also the Wonder Flower, which gives the game its own identity. The whole world changes and the level will provide you with a whole new challenge- and what’s amazing is that no two are alike, and they really challenge your thinking.
The problem for many people is that it is very unpredictable, but that’s what I like about it. For example, one of the levels that showed up in the trailers was where the pipes started moving and you had to work with it. I won’t go into too much detail because some of the best parts of the game are when you collect those Wonder Flowers. In my opinion, they’re the best part of the game.
I already kind of spoke about this, but Mario Wonder is the best 2D Mario in terms of graphics and art style, and I would argue it’s one of the better-looking Switch games. It also runs at a very good framerate, I rarely noticed framerate drops or any issues that were affected by the hardware. If there’s a patch for the next console, I would love to play this in 4K.
I played multiplayer in various aspects of the game. Some of it is great, and some of it isn’t so great, and your enjoyment depends on what you want out of this game.
The big issue for me is with its online multiplayer with friends. If you want to play co-op with your friends, there is no online multiplayer or wireless communication between switches. You can create a room with people, but you can’t play co-op in those levels, you instead are put through obstacle courses. It’s good fun for a bit but not amazingly so.
I don’t understand how to this day we still haven’t had a Mario that we can play co-op online!
Now, online multiplayer does offer you to play with the ghost of people playing live at that time. When you start a level, the game will partner you with 3 other players playing as different characters. The co-op works in several ways, you can leave items for people to pick up if they’re running low and you can place signs for people to interact with. When they do this, you become sort of a floating ghost, and if you hit the sign, you can be brought back without a life loss, and you can also bump into other players and that will revive you. If you’re part of saving someone or giving them an item, that gives you points towards your player score which shows you’ve been a good player online.
That being said, they cannot interact with your world- the ghosts will be interacting with their own version of the game. However, you can pick up tips on where hidden extras are by watching them play.
That’s where some people didn’t like this, as they feel like it takes away from some of the mystery of the game, but I personally like the cooperative nature of it, and that’s where I played most of the game. It felt good to reach the flag at the same time and celebrate together. I personally enjoyed this, but I know some people didn’t, so you can turn off this feature.
The final thing to talk about is the local co-op. I had a chance to play 2-player and 3-player multiplayer, but I haven’t had the chance to play as 4 just yet. What I will say is that it’s a much better multiplayer than the New Super Mario Brothers games. It can get a bit chaotic with more players, but the levels feel more like they’re designed with the multiplayer in mind. It was really good fun to work together. 2-player was definitely the best aspect of the game, and I would argue that it’s probably the best way to play the game overall.
- A Bit Too Easy
I know it’s weird to say considering the target demographic for the game, but I found this incredibly easy. I’d compare it to Mario 3D World in this regard since that relies a lot on multiplayer too, but it felt like it was challenging me a bit more. In the more challenging parts of the game, it didn’t really feel like I was pushed to my limits. I will stress that there were some difficult levels, and I’m not saying I never died, but I think people who thought this game would be more challenging will be disappointed.
I struggle to find any faults with this game. Mario Wonder, in my opinion, is the best 2D Mario since Super Mario World. I’m not willing to rank it amongst the other Mario games at this point in time, since I want to leave time to settle on it and come back to it at a later date. But at this moment, this game is great, and I really enjoyed my time with it, and I highly recommend picking it up. This is a great game and is a bit bittersweet since it’s probably the last major game from Nintendo before we move onto the next console.
Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
Self-proclaimed Nerd Consultant
and Head of Axia’s Film Society.
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