Super Mario Bros. Wonder Switch Review: Reinventing the Iconic Franchise
Super Mario Bros. is an iconic franchise from the 80s that manages to reinvent itself with each release. Creating new ideas for a game embedded with a core platforming format is incredibly hard, but Nintendo has managed to do exactly that. Detailed visual and audio elements, exceptional accessibility, and the intriguing Wonder Flower concept make Super Mario Bros. Wonder one of the best in the series.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the latest title in the long-lasting Mario series and follows a similar plot to other titles. In this new game, you are placed in the Flower Kingdom rather than the Mushroom Kingdom, and as always, your job is to stop Bowser from wreaking havoc. While this is the same straightforward and safe plot as most Mario games, it’s easy to overlook as it’s not the main focal point. Instead, Nintendo used the story to announce its best gameplay feature: the Wonder Flower.
“The Wonder Flower is arguably the best feature of Super Mario Bros. Wonder.”
The Wonder Flower is the most significant and distinct element that separates Super Mario Bros. Wonder from its peers. Every level in the game has a Wonder Flower, and grabbing the flower will completely change the world. From Piranha Plants walking and singing a joyful song to a warp pipe transforming into a large worm, you never know what to expect. It’s important to note that the Wonder Flower’s effect is entirely unique, with no two levels operating the same. These wacky effects last until the player finds the Wonder Seed.
Fortunately, whether the effect is good or bad, collecting a Wonder Seed will return the world to normal, but it’s usually lengthy enough for you to experience the level in a completely different way. The Wonder Flower is arguably the best feature of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, and with every level showcasing an entirely different ability, you’ll never grow tired of this incredible addition.
“Every level in Super Mario Bros. Wonder is incredibly vibrant and interactive.”
Just like in previous titles, you play as Mario and friends and navigate through various worlds filled with platforms, pipes, and obstacles. Players can jump over gaps, dodge or stomp on enemies while collecting coins and power-ups, like the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower, and the goal is to travel from left to right with the aim of reaching the flag. Fortunately, despite the core elements being the same, there are a lot of supporting aspects that improve the iconic series.
In terms of characters, players can play as one of 13 different choices, including Mario, Luigi, Daisy, Peach, Toad (in four colours), Yoshi (in four colours), and Nabbit. To aid in accessibility, Yoshis and Nabbit can’t take damage. Of course, you can still fall down a hole and plummet to your death, but I can’t tell you how many times I was saved by friends playing as those characters. Furthermore, this concept of immortal characters is perfect for families or friends who want to enjoy the game together, free from the typical level traversal difficulties of platforming games.
Speaking of which, every level in Super Mario Bros. Wonder is incredibly vibrant and interactive. There is music playing, hidden blocks, and sound bites at every step of the way. Flowers react as you walk past them, and Elephant Mario, a new power-up in the game, can also squirt water with his trunk to interact with levels.
“Yoshi carrying Elephant Mario on his back is always a funny sight to behold.”
Elephant Mario was the “poster boy” coming into the game and didn’t disappoint. The Elephant Fruit power-up is one of the three new additions in the game and arguably the best. It sacrifices a larger hitbox for the ability to swing its trunk to attack enemies, destroy blocks, and suck water in its trunk.
The Bubble Flower, which looks similar to a Fire Flower but with a new colour scheme, allows players to shoot bubbles at enemies and turn them into coins. You can also jump on the bubbles and use them as a mid-air platform. While I’m not talented enough to use them successfully, I’m sure there will be a speedrunner out there that will.
Finally, the Drill Mushroom is a tool that allows players to, as the name suggests, drill into surfaces. While this doesn’t seem awfully interesting, some levels are designed to be played with this power-up, which makes it quite enjoyable. Players can burrow into the ground or ceiling to evade enemies or access areas that are usually inaccessible. Overall, the new power-ups are decent extras to the game. I could have easily gone without any fresh powers, but Yoshi carrying Elephant Mario on his back is always a funny sight to behold.
“Local co-op is as great as ever.”
Badges are another new Super Mario Bros. Wonder feature that offers additional gameplay and collectible fun. As you play through the levels, you will discover badges that offer different skills, such as jumping higher than usual or kicking like a dolphin underwater. These are a nice addition to each level, but they don’t extend the game much past its novelty factor. It would been a nice addition to allow players to select different badges in multiplayer, but, unfortunately, everyone is stuck with the same.
Luckily, it’s easy to overlook, as multiplayer plays a considerable role in the game. Super Mario Bros. Wonder features both local and online multiplayer. Local co-op is as great as ever, and you’ll have a blast playing with friends. There is a simple drop-in and drop-out system, and if any level becomes too difficult, you can play as Yoshi or Nabbit to get the job done.
Online multiplayer also excels with the standee system. When playing online, players can play with up to four others, similar to local, but each character is in a shadow form. These ghost characters can still revive other players, and you can place standees (or signs) to alert other players if you find a coin or Wonder Flower. There are almost 150 standees in the game, and it’s a great family-friendly variation to the Notes system in soulslike games.
“Super Mario Bros. Wonder is an amazing addition to the Mario series.”
Replayability in Super Mario Bros. Wonder is as evident as ever. Players need to collect the two Wonder Seeds (sometimes three) in every level, as well as exit at the top of the flag and collect all three large Flower Coins. However, the absence of in-game leaderboards is a bit of a bummer. Competing against friends is always a great aspect, and adding times to each level would have only increased the game’s replayability.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder follows the typical pricing of US$59.95 / AU$79.95, and with a normal playthrough taking you about 15 hours, it’s well worth the price. I highly recommend trying out this new title in the Mario series for the endless fun and new challenges that the beautifully designed Flower Kingdom brings.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on Nintendo Switch; a code was provided by Nintendo.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the latest instalment in the iconic franchise, offering a fresh take on the classic platforming format. While the story is straightforward, the standout feature is the Wonder Flower, found on every level, which dramatically alters the gameplay. The game features a diverse cast of characters, offers accessibility for players of all skill levels, and introduces new power-ups like Elephant Mario, Bubble Flower, and Drill Mushroom. Local and online multiplayer options enhance the cooperative experience and provide large amounts of replayability. Super Mario Bros. Wonder is an amazing addition to the Mario series.