Super Mario Bros. Wonder

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Coming: 20/10/2023Developer: NINTENDO SWITCH
Version: 4.0.2Size

(Play On PC, PS4,PS5,Xbox…)

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Nintendo confirmed rumours during the June 2023 Nintendo Direct that a brand new 2D Super Mario game will be making its way to Switch, and the world felt a little bit brighter, if only for a moment.

Yes, Super Mario Bros. Wonder will be launching on October 20th, 2023, and many folks immediately noticed that not only is this the first brand-spanking-new 2D Mario platformer in over a decade, but it’s also the first 2D Mario platformer (discounting Super Mario Run and the Mario Makers) to not feature the word ‘New’ in its title since 2006.

Nintendo has taken a slightly different approach to Super Mario Bros. Wonder’s overall art style compared to the New Super Mario Bros. series, with more detail than ever before and not a little influence from Yoichi Kotabe, the artist responsible for plumber’s classic look out-game stylings on box art and other Mario materials.

But is it really so different? Are we heading into a completely new era for 2D Mario games? Let’s ask our intrepid Nintendo Life writers and see what they think, shall we? You can have your say in the poll at the bottom, too…

When the trailer for Super Mario Bros. Wonder debuted at the end of the latest Nintendo Direct, my jaw was slackened by the change in art approach from New Super Mario Bros. It’s so beautiful. A handful of hours later and I’m still convinced it’s different enough to warrant dropping the ‘New’ from the title, though I acknowledge there are definitely some similarities.

The key thing for me is that the overall visual quality is just leaps and bounds ahead of even New Super Mario Bros. U. There’s so much more going on in terms of environmental effects, lighting, and animation. I even went back to NSMBU after watching the trailer for Wonder, and it’s just so flat and bland in comparison (check out the trailer for that further down if you’d like to compare). It’s hard to believe that we accepted New’s art style for so long, even when we weren’t enamoured with it.

At this point, I think we just need to accept that we’re not going to get another pixel-art Mario game. What we’ve got with Wonder is very much a substantial evolution of the art style found in the ‘New’ series, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It looks great, and that’s the main thing.

Alana Hagues, Deputy Editor

I’ll be honest, here — initially, while I really liked what I saw of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, all I saw was an “upgraded” version of New Super Mario Bros. Rewatching the trailer a few times though, that’s pretty unfair.

Wonder looks gorgeous. Sure, there are similarities — like the shininess of the characters, the general “feel” — but this is so much more expressive and bold than New. Mario’s face lights up when he jumps, and the way he focuses when he runs. But I think my favourite upgrade is the lighting, so caps off to whoever the lighting wizard is for Wonder. The autumnal level in particular has a bit of a golden glow to it that makes it feel warm and cosy. And there’s the purple background where Mario is just a silhouette. It looks utterly stunning.

So yes, I think there are lots of similarities between New and Wonder, but there’s a little bit of sparkle on this new 2D Mario that elevates it above its predecessors. I hope the small dashes of weirdness we saw in the trailer make for a wonderful game to play through.

As the Wonder reveal started, my first thought was “The art!!“. From afar, this looks like NSMB has been given a pastel makeover, but I really like what I see when I get up close. The expressions! The blurry movements! Yoshi! This style keeps enough of Mario as we know him while adding a certain flare that I am very much on board with so far.

Of course, zooming in on every frame is not how I will actually experience the game, so in motion, this might feel a little more “New” than I am expecting. That being said, it looks like Mario’s little hat lifts up while he is running, so can we really ask for anything more?

I’ve seen some hot takes online that herald SMBW as the dawn of some new — very much lowercase ‘n’, there — era for 2D Mario after the scourge of the New series, and it has me raising an eyebrow for a couple of reasons, not least because the New Super Mario Bros. games are pretty great! Especially NSMBU (Deluxe). Not perfect, mind, but they did a fine job of bringing 2D Mario to a whole new generation while still offering up invention and colourful creativity. And plenty of nostalgic nods for the crustier gamers among us, too.

Wonder looks… not a million miles away from the New series to my eyes. Perhaps the myriad animation details and gorgeous Yoichi Kotabe-inspired touches which do cumulatively set this apart from its direct predecessors were lessened by the way I had to watch the reveal trailer (in a smaller-than-ideal window with five other tabs open in Direct coverage mode). But it certainly feels to me like a continuation of the ‘New’ theme, even if it’s missing that name. I mean, the ‘Super Mario Bros.’ in the logo is identical minus the New, right? And I didn’t hear any ‘wah‘s, but it did have familiar-sounding vocals on its audio.

Don’t get me wrong — I think Wonder looks brilliant; an eye-wateringly lovely evolution. But from what I’ve seen so far, it isn’t a sea change for 2D Mario. It feels like New (Super Mario Bros.) Game+, if you will…


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