For as seasoned as the franchise is at this point, it’s amazing that Super Mario Bros. Wonder still feels like an absolute gem of a game. Showcasing the true potential of the Nintendo Switch, with vibrant colours, this game is also a visual treat.
That being said, Super Mario Bros. Wonder can only be described as a delightful journey that constantly surprises and delights players by boasting six captivating worlds filled with hidden secrets and paths. The flip between 3D and 2D Mario styles with an open world feel feels like a celebration of all things Mario; and with the first original 2D Mario game coming to the Switch after so many ports, the wait as they say, was well and truly worth it.
A Visual Marvel
One of the most impressive aspects of Super Mario Bros. Wonder is its breathtaking graphics. We reviewed this on the OLED Switch in handheld mode, and the visuals consistently shine. The kaleidoscope of colour is both as bright and vibrant, as that OLED screen enhances the overall sharpness, making every detail pop. The game’s visuals are simply a feast for the eyes; from the lush green landscapes in the Flower Kingdom to the rich underwater worlds, this is the best a game has looked on this admittedly ageing console in a really long time.
However, the actual spectacle can also be witnessed when playing in docked mode on the big screen. The graphics are genuinely jaw-dropping there too, with Mario and his surroundings coming to life with unparalleled clarity. The transition from handheld to docked mode is also seamless, and Nintendo has truly outdone itself in optimising the game for the OLED Switch in particular.
A Wonderous Adventure Awaits
Super Mario Bros. Wonder offers players an extraordinary adventure across six captivating worlds. Each world is beautifully designed, with unique challenges and themes that keep the gameplay fresh and exciting. Mario and friends are whisked away to the Flower Kingdom to meet a caterpillar creature, Prince Florian. After Bowser and Florian’s castle steals his flower-shaped crown and merges with Bowser to create a terrifying floating monstrosity, Bowser flies over the lands, corrupting areas and imprisoning the adorable Poplins. Mario must once again travel through the world, freeing the Poplins and retrieving the Wonder Seeds to progress and unlock Royal Seeds to destroy the monster’s protecting Bowser.
The abundance of hidden secrets and paths scattered throughout each level sets this game apart from the rest. Exploration is highly encouraged, as players are rewarded with hidden power-ups, bonus stages, and other delightful surprises. Super Mario Bros. Wonder truly captures the essence of what makes the Super Mario franchise so beloved – the sheer joy of discovery.
There are a huge amount of players to choose from. Mario, being the main one, of course, plays as traditionally as you would expect. And then he goes and transforms into an elephant. Granted, at first, it seems like an odd choice. Yet the enormous amounts of blocks and obstacles you need to bash through warrant this transformation. Several pipes that are bursting with water allow you to fill up your trunk and spray enemies. Elephant Mario is a fantastic new addition to the Mario power-ups in the canon. Other characters you can select from include Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Toadette, Yellow Toad, Blue Toad, Nabbit and four different coloured Yoshi’s, including red, yellow, light blue and, of course, green.
Each character has their own quirk, with Yoshi and Nabbit being the two that don’t take damage. While this may seem easy to cruise through, they cannot use power-ups. Nabbit turns any power up into purple coins, which act as the in-game currency (a highly needed item to purchase additional lives, wonder seeds and more!) Yoshi has his trademark hover jump and can gobble up enemies easily to get past them. Depending on your preferred playstyle, you can choose your character at the start of each level, which brings enough variety to incorporate players of all ages.
In previous Mario games, each character had a locked set of abilities. In this one, you can purchase badges to grant access to various abilities that would have previously been locked. Badges can be purchased using the purple coins or unlocked as you complete challenges on various side levels. It generally takes one playthrough of a level to find the correct badge to access any hidden areas or get through it. One of my most used was the Parachute Cap, which allows your character’s hat to grow and allows you to glide and access different areas. The other must-have is the Dolphin Kick, which gives you a speed boost underwater; it will also allow you to break through blocks.
What didn’t work was the talking flowers. There are many of them scattered through each level. It’s odd hearing a human voice (particularly with an American accent) in this space. The talking flowers do offer hints as to secrets nearby, and can also make funny remarks about the weather or obstacles ahead. It was a bit jarring at the start of the game; after a few hours, I switched them off as the voice started to distract from the immersion in this world.
Overall, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is an absolute triumph that showcases the true potential of the Nintendo Switch. Its beautiful graphics, both in handheld and docked mode, are also a visual marvel. The game’s six worlds are filled with hidden secrets and paths, ensuring that there is tons of variety and replayability for fans of all ages. With its responsive controls, melodic soundtrack, and captivating gameplay, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is quite simply the best 2D Mario platforming game ever made.
It truly captures what makes the franchise so beloved, delivering a wondrous adventure that adds innovation with various power-ups and badges to acquire and customise new abilities, making playing through the worlds a lot of fun. Super Mario Bros. Wonder should not be missed and cements its place as one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Superior platforming, Elephant power-up innovates the franchise, Looks incredible on the Nintendo Switch OLED and in docked Lowlights: Talking flowers is a misstep; Earlier levels are a little too easy for seasoned players.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Available: 20th of October
Review conducted on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.