Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a fantastic return to the Mario franchise, building upon all the features we know and love while adding a plethora of new abilities to keep things interesting. This is a must-have for Mario veterans and amateurs alike.
- Fantastic new power-ups and features
- Beautifully designed levels and worlds
- Highly motivating gameplay loop
- Local multiplayer mode
- Vast character selection
- Simple gameplay may not be for everyone
- Platforms:Nintendo Switch consoles
- Release date:20 October 2023
- Genre:Platforming, Action
The last all-new 2D Mario platformer came out in 2012 and debuted on the Wii U console. It’s clear that Nintendo took its 11-year hiatus seriously, as Super Mario Bros. Wonder introduces a swath of new features that massively improve on its predecessors.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder works in a very similar way to the 2D Mario games of old. Platforming is as smooth as ever, with collectables hidden throughout every level. The overarching story is as paper-thin as usual, but Wonder has made some notable improvements in a lot of key areas.
As for the newcomers, Nintendo is as fantastic as ever with implementing small teaching moments as the game progresses. The mechanics of the game are pretty simple, so you may want to look elsewhere if you’re after a real challenge, but this is definitely a game that anyone can dive into.
- The same Mario story we’re all used to
- Collect Wonder Seeds to move onto new areas
- A whole host of characters to choose from
I think it’s fair to say that Mario has never had movie-worthy storylines, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder is no exception. Bowser is up to his usual dealings, attempting to take over the Flower Kingdom with yet another dastardly plan while Mario and his rag-tag team attempt to thwart him.
On the bright side, Wonder is a very easy game to follow and is a perfect pick for young kids. As an adult, I find the storyline to be as charming as the Mario games from my youth.
The main driving force of Wonder are the Wonder Seeds, which I needed to find to unlock new levels and eventually, new worlds. In most instances, there was a Wonder Seed hiding somewhere in the level and one was gifted to me once I reached the Goal Pole at the end.
I had the choice of playing 12 different characters throughout the game, with the option to switch between them at any point in the main world. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy and Toad all make an appearance, with the option to also play as different coloured Yoshis and the mysterious Nabbit. These last two characters won’t be affected by power-ups but they also don’t take damage, so they might be the better pick for a younger audience that’s still learning the ropes.
Local multiplayer is also supported in Wonder. Personally, I prefer to play games like this alone, but playing along with a friend was still very satisfying. In the same vein as Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, each level essentially turned into a mad dash towards the Goal Pole, with both me and my friend frantically trying to find every collectable as soon as possible.
Online rooms can also be created for up to 12 players, with the ability to play as normal or turn them into races. I wasn’t able to try out this feature, but it’s great to see Nintendo introducing more ways to play with your long-distance friends and families.
Platforming and Collectables
- Smooth and responsive platforming
- Three new power-ups make an appearance
- Wonder Flowers introduces a brand-new mechanic
The platforming in Super Mario Bros. Wonder is very well implemented; jumping and running through the levels felt smooth and responsive, while the new power-ups felt great to use in their respective areas.
As I’ve already mentioned, a large part of Wonder is the new Wonder Seeds mechanics. For those Seeds in the middle of a level, I had to find the coveted Wonder Flower. Jumping into the Wonder Flower caused a wide array of effects to take place, with each one being more fascinating than the last. In World One’s Welcome to the Flower Kingdom!, picking up the Wonder Flower caused all the pipes to start moving across the floor and jump up and down in time with the beat.
In another World One level, Scram, Skedaddlers!, the Wonder Flower turned the entire landscape into a beautifully star-lit night, with Star Men raining down from the sky. These Stars allowed me to plough through the rest of the level, taking down enemies and pushing through barrels until I was able to capture the Wonder Seed being sneakily carried on an enemy’s back.
I won’t reveal the location of every Wonder Flower, but I have to say that as the game progresses, the locations become more obscure and the effects become even more thrilling. I much prefer Wonder Flowers to the standard Star Coins from New Super Mario U, as not only do they have a much bigger effect on the overall gameplay, but they’re much more tantalising to find.
Alongside Wonder Flowers, there are also plenty of Wonder Coins to collect. Three big Wonder Coins appear in every level and have the same function as Star Coins from previous games. Smaller Wonder Coins are also sprinkled throughout each level and can be used to purchase different items from the Poplin Shops. A Poplin Shop is based in each world and gave me the option to buy extra One-Ups, different Badges – which I will touch on soon – and even Wonder Seeds specific to that world.
There are other types of levels in Wonder too, all of which granted me a Seed on completion. Badge Challenges put my skills with specific Badges to the test, of which there are 24 in total. I was able to equip one Badge at a time – which includes the Parachute Cap, Wall-Climb Jump, Floating High Jump and Dolphin Kick, among others – and use them throughout the level. Parachute Cap allowed me to glide gracefully across the screen, ideal for crossing platforms that would be too long to jump, while Dolphin Kick made moving through the water much easier.
Despite the Badge Challenges being much shorter than a standard level I really appreciated their inclusion. For newcomers, they’re a perfect way to introduce both new and old mechanics in a pressure-free environment, and they pushed me to explore the newer abilities in a way that I might not have tried without encouragement.
Alongside these new levels and abilities, there are also three new power-ups in Super Mario Bros. Wonder; Elephant Fruit, Bubble Flower and Drill Mushroom. The former took me by surprise in my first encounter, with Peach suddenly turning into a large, pink Elephant before my eyes. In Elephant form, I could smash through obstacles, squirt water out of my trunk to both water flowers and disturb enemies and throw smaller enemies high up into the air.
The Bubble Flower, on the other hand, allows me to shoot glistening bubbles at will. These bubbles can be used to capture certain enemies and turn them into coins and even can be used as platforms, albeit for a brief moment. The Drill Mushroom is my personal favourite, allowing me to drill into the floor and move sneakily across the floor. With the Drill Mushroom equipped, I could also drill through blocks and obstacles, with most enemies being unable to jump on my head.
All of these new additions – from the power-ups to the level styles – made each world feel very distinct and unique. I fell in love with so much of this game over a short period of time and I truly feel that it’s one of the best new Mario picks out there. Whether your last encounter with Mario was Super Mario Odyssey or Super Mario Bros. on the NES, there is a lot of joy to be found here.
Graphics and Audio
- Vibrant and colourful graphics
- More pipe mechanics to keep things interesting
- Upbeat and stylized songs throughout
In classic Nintendo fashion, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a truly beautiful game. One of my favourite parts of the new design is the new platforms that appear in the background; pick the right pipe or the right door and I was suddenly transported away from the foreground and free to find any collectables hidden away.
There’s a surprising level of interactivity in Super Mario Bros. Wonder; flowers can be watered via the Elephant power-up, pipes can be pushed around and various glowing flowers dotted around each level offer a different surprise when interacted with.
I personally enjoyed playing Wonder in handheld mode rather than on the big screen, since the limited resolution of the Switch doesn’t take too well on a 50-inch display. Putting the limited resolution of the Nintendo Switch aside, I didn’t encounter any stuttering or lag during my gameplay and the 720p resolution didn’t massively bring down the experience.
The audio is heavily inspired by previous Mario games and keeps everything feeling upbeat and cheerful. The audio complements the visuals very well and is one of my favourite aspects of Wonder as a whole.
Should you buy it?
You want to dive into a brand-new Mario game
Super Mario Bros. Wonder introduces some brilliantly implemented mechanics. The beautiful graphics and motivating gameplay make this a very easy recommendation for both younger and older fans.
You’re after more of a challenge
If you’re someone who loves a challenge or a well-developed story, then Super Mario Bros. Wonder won’t be for you. Check out Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze or Celeste if you want a 2D platformer with a greater challenge.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a fantastic addition to the franchise. Every level is bursting with personality and the fantastical new power-ups and abilities offer a lot more motivation to look further into every nook and cranny.
The characters are a joy to control and all the platforming elements feel seamless. The Wonder Flowers are a very welcome addition, adding a lot more dimension to what I would previously call a very cookie-cutter experience. The only downside – if you can really call it that – is that Wonder can’t exactly stand alongside its peers in terms of storytelling or sheer size.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder doesn’t break the mould for 2D platformers, but it has built upon what came before wonderfully and I would highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a calm, cosy experience on the Switch. For even more recommendations, check out our best Nintendo Switch games for more options.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it, we will always alert the reader.
Played on Nintendo Switch
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No, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is only available on Nintendo Switch consoles.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a brand-new 2D platforming game that comes with a swath of new features to the Mario franchise.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder comes with a vast array of characters that you can play as, including Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Toad, Toadette, Yoshi and Nabbit, among others.