Those who come to the game expecting an easy, forgiving spin on the old-school platformer are in for a nasty shock, and this difficulty level might easily intimidate some of the console’s casual audience. Recompense comes in the form of the new Super Guides. Fluff a level eight times in a row and a green block appears. Hit it, and you get the option to watch Luigi clear the level for you, revealing a selection of its secrets along the way. This effectively clears the level for you, though you can opt to have another go and do it for yourself, should you wish.
This is going to be controversial. My take is that anything that stops new players from giving up on a game due to one tricky section is a good thing. All the same, others will consider it cheating, or hate the way that it reveals secrets that you’d only find otherwise through persistent replay. The ability to buy additional hint videos with collected big coins will go along similar lines. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it, but I can see some hardcore fans moaning that such a thing even exists.
What impacts me and the more casual gamers more is the rather stingy decision to only allow progress to be saved twice in a world – at the very beginning, and after the halfway, mini-boss stage. Having sweated to get through a difficult stage or two, there’s nothing worse than getting to the boss or mini-boss battle on your last life then getting wiped out, only to find that you now need to re-conquer those stages again to proceed. I doubt I’ll be the only person to make calculated use of the Super Guide feature just to get to a save point. Doesn’t that go right against the Mario grain?
Luckily, these gripes start melting away once you try the game’s trump card: full-fat, four-player support. This, obviously, is how NSMB Wii was made to be played. Up to four of you can play simultaneously as Mario, Luigi and their mushroom-headed allies, and while the game will cheerfully kill of stragglers, the view zooms in and out to a wide degree to accommodate all four players. Four-player Mario turns out to be a master stroke. First, as long as one player remains alive, death no longer stings. Wait a second, and your squished, bashed or fallen buddy returns to the screen in a floating bubble, ready for release. When you go, you just hope that they’ll do the same for you. This makes some of the trickier sections of the game that little bit more palatable.