LONDON: In the era of vast technological power that allows gamers to access huge, detailed and realistic worlds for months’ worth of gameplay, what place does a good old-fashioned 2D side-scroller have?
Well, according to Nintendo, lots, and it has attempted to prove its case with “Super Mario Bros. Wonder,” a game with an ancestry that can be traced all the way back to 1985.
Yet this is no retro game, despite the obvious nostalgia. Perfect for entry-level players and veterans alike, it gives you a ticket to the dazzling, colorful and well-drawn Flower Kingdom, with its variety of worlds and sub-missions.
It is a game that oozes joy as you select from 12 playable characters who can power up to become fire throwers, walking drills or even elephants.
Complete with a classic catchy, although not iconic, soundtrack, the essence of the game remains a combination of jumping skill, timing, patience, and mastering the different opponents and end-of-stage bosses. Some enemies are new, others will be older than most people playing the game. The storyline does not take much unpacking, it is the classic good versus evil, Mario versus Bowser that has stood the test of decades to date.
Unlike previous Mario scrollers there is no timer forcing you to rush stages, and instead the game rewards exploration, badge collection and discovery of secrets. The badges give you a series of active or passive effects, which is a nice touch, but the cornerstone of the game is each area’s hidden wonder seed, after which the game was named.
Once you get this, chaos ensues as the location changes into a multitude of madcap scenarios. The camera may move to a top-down perspective, a herd of cows may suddenly appear, or Mario may turn into a spiky ball. You never quite know what is going to happen and the deranged inventiveness is a unique feature.
In addition to this main event feature, the game has several other things going for it. Unlike previous Mario games, it feels like the multiplayer, whether local or online, has really clicked for this game. You can almost imagine the developers having scenarios of seasoned Mario-fan parents encouraging their children to play along with them, with quirks like having an invincible character so smaller children can play without fear of dying.
The obvious criticism of the game is the absence of challenge and difficulty which can leave you feeling a bit shortchanged. That said, the sheer fun that the game projects will be enough for most people.