Desparately Seeking New Super Mario Bros.: Get into the 2D groove.
Before I begin, I need to explain something. The first video game I was really "into" was Super Mario Bros. When I received Super Mario Bros. 2 for my birthday, I yelped like a puppy playing with a tennis ball. That primal scream was captured on film and preserved for perpetuity. Needless to say, I destroyed the tape a few years back. For Super Mario Bros. 3 I made one of those backhanded kid deals with my mom when I asked her "If you win more than $250 on your bingo trip can I get Super Mario Bros. 3?" Sure enough, at the end of the day my mother came home with $250 in winnings and we stamped off to the mall the next day to procure a copy of SMB3. It was the last copy in the store and I was the first kid on my block to see Mario fly because a raccoon tail was sticking out of his butt. I never did find out if she really won the money.
I'm going to leave my fascination with The Wizard to your imagination. Or the Gaming Target archives.
This brings us to New Super Mario Bros. I'll admit it, when the DS was first revealed, I thought it was a gimmick that would get bowled over by the GBA (for those that wanted a real portable and none of this weird touch screen mini-game stuff) and the PSP (which I assumed would be full of prettied up 2D things that the GBA couldn't handle). Little did I know that two years later the DS would be wiping the floor with the PSP in terms of good reviews and respect (and holding a respectable lead in sales). Part of it was the desire for something different. The other (bigger) part of it was the announcement of the first new side scrolling Mario Bros. game in fifteen years.
So this is why I need
a DS. Classic 2D Mario side-scrolling style with a heaping helping of the 3D graphical tricks and polish that the world's greatest plumber (sorry Uncle Frank) has slowly been adding to his repertoire since 1996. And it does look classic. Take a look at that screenshot of Mario hopping on the giant mushroom platforms. That scene was taken right out of Super Mario Bros. One. Other screens show fiery lava pit-infested castles, underwater levels, and the Mario desert.
Shades of Super Mario Bros. 2 creep in as Mario and Luigi are said to be have different skills and in certain levels one will be better than the other. A new Super Super Mushroom will make Mario bulk up to the size of the whole screen. And then it's some real clobbering time. But look out, giant Goombas and Koopa Troopas will also be stomping your way.
New Super Mario Bros. will even have a two-player cooperative mode that Nintendo staffers have said will be cooperative, but also competitive. It has also been said that Mario will come equipped with his butt stomp and backflip from Mario 64.
Another new trick Mario is packing on the DS is an expanded ?item box? like we last saw in Super Mario World. Using the stylus, you'll be able to flip mushrooms, fire flowers and other goodies up to the main screen for Mario to use. Otherwise, the DS' special features seem noticeably absent from the New adventure. When Mario jumps into a pipe to go underground the action will shift to the bottom screen. But that seems to be it.
Word out of E3 was that those that got a chance to play it just kept going back for more and more. Other reports said that no game (not even the scant playable Xbox 360 offerings) had a longer line than New Super Mario Bros. We are on the cusp of the next generation and a 2D Mario game that's only on a handheld produces the most fervent response. Only in America (and possibly Japan)!