New Super Mario Bros. Wii
No matter how many "hardcore" gamers deride the Wii for its reliance on old franchises and Nintendo's focus on a younger demographic, a huge percentage of them most likely cut their teeth on Mario in one form or another. Many of today's gamers are in their twenties, so it's likely that they have fond memories of the sidescrolling Mario titles on the NES and SNES. In 1996, Mario changed the entire gaming landscape with Mario 64, and side-scrolling faded into the past. Despite this, the 2006 release of New Super Mario Bros. on the DS was a massive success for Nintendo, and proved that the old formula still works with a new generation of gamers. Now that Nintendo has brought the Wii into millions of living rooms across the country, it appears that it's time to bring "2D" Mario back to the big screen.
When it was announced in Club Nokia at Nintendo's E3 press conference, I heard numerous adult gaming journalists in the audience become audibly excited. All of the footage looked fantastic, and the gameplay was solid as a rock when I played it on the show floor the next day. It's a few months later, and we now have an official release date of November 15th.
What we've seen so far is a lot of what you'd expect, but I doubt many are looking for a massive revolution in the way sidescrolling Mario plays. Multiplayer is obviously the big draw with this title, and should add an entertaining new twist to the formula. It's not split screen, rather, the camera pans out when players get too separated from one another (a la Smash Bros). Many elements of the DS title return, including the overall visual style and the three hidden coins in each level. New to this Wii installment are numerous power-ups such as a penguin suit, a propeller hat, an ice flower that allows you to turn enemies into makeshift platforms, and the return of Yoshi.
There's no doubt that New Super Mario Bros. Wii will be a massive seller for Nintendo, and all of the early looks at the game point towards it being an absolute blast. Four-player mayhem should add a lot to the 2D Mario experience, and you can probably expect a lot of funny moments to come out of it (competing for power-ups, eating your friends with Yoshi and spitting them off cliffs, etc). Look for the game to be one of the biggest holiday releases of 2009.