We’ve previously discussed the magical mysteries of Nintendo’s release policies, but as long as they’re providing us with a constant stream of cheap, easy to access classics we won’t complain. The latest to come down the Piranha Plant infested pipeline is 2006’s New Super Mario Bros for DS, a game that’s initial novelty and brilliance may be somewhat overshadowed by the perceived laziness of its sequels, but that’s still worthy of the reevaluation of its own merits today.
Fresh from his graffiti fear campaign on Delfino Island, Bowser Jr. sets his sights higher this time and takes up his Dad’s old shtick of kidnapping Princess Peach, right from under Mario’s mustachioed nose this time! Of course that means the chase is on over the usual 8 Worlds of classic side scrolling challenges. There are three star coins to collect in each level which can help open up hidden passages on the maps, and this game was the debut of the mega and mini mushrooms, used to cause wanton destruction and sneak out of levels through alternate, tiny exits respectively. There’s also a blue shell you can wear to help Mario roll through enemies and burst blocks but it mostly made me zing off of platforms and to my death all willy nilly like an idiot. Your mileage may vary.
Who’s a lovable little human trafficker? Yes you are!
The usual suspects, Goombas, Koopas, Piranha Plants, are on hand to stand in Mario’s way, here rendered in crisp 3D for the first time in a Mario side scroller, and watching them dance along to the music before meeting their imminent demise never gets old. Some of Mario’s moves from his 3D platforming conquests make the jump here, such as the triple and wall jumps, and the ground pound proves particularly useful. Not just content with having these N64 quality graphics in what was initially a handheld game, Nintendo also used the DS’ bottom screen to display Mario’s progress through the level, the amount of star coins collected, and the especially handy feature of having a Super Mario World-style reserve item available at any time during gameplay simply by being tapped.
At the time of its release there hadn’t been a new Mario platformer on the shelves since 1992’s Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins for the original Game Boy, and fans ate it up to the tune of over 30 million units sold. The game itself holds up beautifully, even projected onto large TVs that it was never developed to support, Nintendo again offers a wide variety of options for displaying the DS’ screens between your TV ad the gamepad but the tried and true method of bottom screen on gamepad, top screen on TV is the best way to go, and it’s a Nintendo platformer so you know the controls feel great.
At $7.99 this game is an absolute steal and something that should be on everybody’s WiiU hard drive, especially for portable-averse gamers who may have never had the pleasure of experiencing this series’ origins. If you were turned off by the same-y drudgery of the mildly disappointing New SMB U, don’t let that stop you from picking this one up. It’s a winner.