The review for Super Mario Bros Wonder features a multiplayer mode with exciting and unpredictable moments throughout all levels.
From the start, Mario games have been created with multiplayer in mind. I remember taking turns with my brother on the SNES, arguing over who would play as Mario and who would be stuck with Luigi. In current 2D Mario games, up to four players can join in on one screen, racing and jumping through the vibrant and surreal levels, vying for shiny coins and coveted power-ups.
This version of gameplay is marketed as suitable for families, but if you have attempted to play a game like New Super Mario Bros U with children, you know it can be extremely chaotic. Some players get left behind while others rush ahead. There are arguments over who gets to control Yoshi or who reached the top of the flagpole at the end of a level. Siblings may jump on each other’s heads or push each other into holes, and even parents with experience playing as Mario can become so frustrated with all the fuss that they may feel tempted to throw the console or one of their children out of the living room window.
Mario Wonder is able to solve many issues in multiplayer, making it a smoother experience. I played through the entire game with my six-year-old son and he was upset when it ended. It follows the classic style of left-to-right movement and jumping, making it easy to understand but difficult to master. The levels vary from peaceful walks through green fields with sleepy Goombas, to incredibly challenging sections with disappearing platforms that test one’s skill and patience. However, the game has a good balance of characters and badges that can either make the game easier or more challenging, making it enjoyable for both novice players and experienced Mario fans.
Instead of hindering each other, it feels more like you are collaborating. Yoshi can carry teammates through levels, defeat enemies, and is invulnerable, making him a good choice for inexperienced players. However, he cannot use power-ups that allow other characters to shoot fireballs or transform into different forms. Badges can give you an extra bounce or a higher jump. Characters can revive each other if someone falls victim to obstacles, making it easier to progress through the game as a team.
There’s still plenty of chaos in the form of mid-level transformations triggered by finding each area’s hidden Wonder Seed. These madcap moments turn pipes into squiggling worms, or summon buffalo stampedes that Mario and friends must ride into the sky, or turn players into Goombas or jumping spike-creatures or blobs of goo. You never do know what’s going to happen when you touch a Wonder Seed – in one early level the chomping Piranha Plants all started singing and dancing, which reduced me and my child to delighted giggles.
The Mario franchise is renowned for its boundless imagination and constant stream of innovative and entertaining ideas that come and go in a matter of minutes. Wonder contains a plethora of these moments, providing a sense of delight throughout. While there are a few forgettable levels, there are no major disappointments and plenty of standout moments. The visual style in this game differs subtly from previous Mario games, appearing more inviting and with a touch of psychedelia. The attention to detail is evident in the charming animations, such as characters peeking out before emerging from pipes, Yoshi’s expression of dismay when ridden by an elephant, and the amusingly expanding snot bubbles of sleeping Goombas and talkative flowers with surprised “Os” for mouths.
This game offers immediate and enjoyable entertainment without a complicated plot or difficult instructions to follow. Fans of Mario will recognize the familiar fun, but there are enough new elements and unexpected surprises to keep it from becoming too repetitive. For those who are new to the world of Mario – whether they are children discovering video games for the first time or friends and family joining in a multiplayer game – this is an excellent introduction to the imaginative and detail-oriented gameplay that has made Mario a beloved part of families for almost three decades.