It was New alright.
Turing 16 is a big deal for some people. It’s when teenagers can get their driver’s licenses, earn more freedoms from their parents, or throw the biggest party they can get away with. While Mario isn’t a stranger to big celebrations, one series has been quietly hanging out on the sidelines. The series in question is New Super Mario Bros and while the sequels aren’t really regarded with the highest of praise, it’s the first game of this franchise that is still regarded as the pinnacle.
So what madeNew Super Mario Bros. such a big hit on the Nintendo DS? For starters, the “New” in the title wasn’t just for show. This was the first new 2D side-scrolling Mario game since Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. Sure, we got the Game Boy Advance games, but those were re-releases of older games, leaving 2D Mario fans experiencing quite the dry spell. Even when the DS launched in 2004 it came with a remake of Super Mario 64 that got fans excited, and it helped make the DS a household name. Sadly, that wasn’t enough, so Nintendo got to working.
Like the title says, New Super Mario Bros. is a brand “New” Mario game. This isn’t a case where the developers just threw in some new power mushrooms and called it a day. They also added some of Mario’s 3D abilities, such as the wall and triple jump. The Ground Pound was also added, and all these abilities translated well in a 2D setting. As for new power-ups, the game was given 3 fresh abilities. Unfortunately, they aren’t remembered as fondly as other power-ups that would make their debuts in games to come.
First was the Mega Mushroom, where Mario is made invincible and literally smashes everything in his path. Destroy enough obstacles and you’ll get rewarded with more 1-Ups. Next is the Mini Mushroom, which makes you much shorter, but you have a higher jump and can run on water (which I think was pretty neat!). Finally, there’s the Blue Koopa shell, which certainly seems to be the least favorite. After running a few steps, Mario would hop into the shell to smash some blocks and bounce off of others.
As for the story, it’s standard Mario fare; Peach gets kidnapped and you have to go save her…again. This game does switch things up a bit, as it’s Bowser Jr. who kidnaps Peach and not Bowser Sr.. This game also changes up main bosses, as some worlds give you another character to battle besides Bowser. For worlds 2-7, all the bosses are remixes of an enemy from that world, be it a mummified Pokey or a Goomba that got a hold of a Mega Mushroom. These aren’t super hard fights, but it’s still fun to see different Mario enemies as the final challenge of a world.
The game released to rave reviews and the sales figures cemented another Nintendo hit. According to Nintendo’s own website, New Super Mario Bros. sold 30.80 million copies worldwide making it the best selling DS game ever. It surpassed Nintendogs by nearly 7 million copies. It seemed like everyone or anyone who owned a Nintendo DS had/has this game in their library, making you a somewhat rare breed if you didn’t. It’s undeniable that this game helped the sales of the DS to become the second-highest selling console of all time.
What happened to the franchise after its successful debut? Nintendo once again followed their own drummer by releasing the Wii, which eventually brought about New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This installment offered 4-player multiplayer, which sounds like a good idea, but was true chaos in practice. New Super Mario Bros. Wii wasn’t a bad game, it just didn’t do too much outside the tried-and-true formula. Yes, these were “New” Super Mario Bros. games, but they didn’t really add anything ‘new.’ Besides a few power-ups and multiplayer aspects, the series stagnated a bit when it got to the Wii U. There were some good ideas like the coin rush in New Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Year of Luigi levels for New Super Mario Bros. U, but sadly, even Luigi’s challenging levels couldn’t save that title’s debut.
In retrospect, New Super Mario Bros. really is a solid 2D platformer. The game had secrets to unlock through the 3 star coins hidden in the levels, and 2 whole worlds that couldn’t be accessed unless you beat the last boss with a certain power-up. This game was begging players to come back and replay the main story to find all its secrets. It even included a series of mini-games that showed how cool using the stylus was.
New Super Mario Bros. truly is a fun game to play, and if you want to get it today, it’s not a hard title to find. It also doesn’t hurt that by this point, it’s quite easy on the wallet as well! While subsequent entries are up for debate, New Super Mario Bros. DS brought many a new gamer and lapsed fans back to the Mario franchise, making it more than worthy of a Sweet 16 celebration.