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Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

An Exclusive Look At Three New Courses
by Brian Shea on Oct 03, 2023 at 01:00 PM
Platform Switch
Publisher Nintendo
Developer Nintendo

When I played Super Mario Bros. Wonder in August, I came away extremely impressed by the creativity at play with the series' return to the 2D side of the coin. I enjoyed my time so much that I was upset when I had to relinquish the controller at the end of my demo session. Thankfully, as part of our cover story for our latest issue, I was able to get a lot more time with Super Mario Bros. Wonder. While a lot of that time was spent further exploring the levels I had already played, I was also the first to experience three courses that appeared as part of the Super Mario Bros. Wonder-focused Nintendo Direct in late August.

I was able to play through each of these stages multiple times. While I'll skimp on some details (such as where to find the stage's Wonder Flower) to avoid spoiling too much, I wanted to deliver my exclusive hands-on impressions of these stages. As such, note that there are spoilers for these stages in both the text and screenshots below. 

Condarts Away!

World 2 | Two-Star Difficulty

The first exclusive course I played was "Condarts Away!" The second world of Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a cloud and snow biome called Fluff-Puff Peaks, and that is precisely where Condarts Away takes place. This two-star difficulty course plays off the snow side of the world, offering a wintry backdrop and foreground; thankfully, this level is more about snow than ice, so you typically have a sure footing. As you start the stage, Nintendo aptly demonstrates how the new enemy for which this stage is named, Condarts, operates. When these yellow birds spot you, they fly forward, leading with their bright red beaks. 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

As Condarts speed forward, they destroy obstacles and other enemies in their way, including bricks, before getting stuck in the wall or ground. They also sometimes run into each other.  As you might imagine, this can also damage you, but the Bubble Flower, which pops up in this stage, helped me to even the odds a bit. Some sequences, like the one pictured above, play with this idea and offer up some cool spectacles as multiple Condarts take out several bricks at once. 

Condarts are fun to play with, but probably the most exciting sequence came once I grabbed a Propeller Flower and was taken to a special area full of Zip Tracks. These yellow-colored rails let Mario and his friends essentially grind and zipline through the area, collecting as many purple Flower Coins as possible while avoiding those pesky Condarts. This fast-paced segment of the course was a ton of fun, and I hope more levels leverage this mechanic before Super Mario Bros. Wonder wraps up.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

As is the case with all main levels in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Condarts Away features a Wonder Seed. Once I grab this collectible, the stage transforms into yet another unique experience: a top-down perspective. The Zip Tracks may have been the most exciting part of the stage, but this Wonder Effect was probably my favorite moment. Walking through this area, avoiding enemies, and tracking down Flower Coins (some of which actually move away from you as you approach them) further emphasized the level of creativity Nintendo has put on display with this title.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Once I collect the Wonder Seed, the stage goes back to normal and I can finish my playthrough. Condarts Away was the first stage I played out of the exclusive levels, but it's one of the most memorable experiences I had during my time with Super Mario Bros. Wonder. The balance of the traditional platforming, new enemy introduction, fast-paced Zip Tracks, and off-the-way Wonder Effect made me glad I had time to go back and play this one again.

Where The Rrrumbas Rule

World 6 | Two-Star Difficulty

The second exclusive stage I played was "Where The Rrrumbas Rule." This stage takes place in the sixth world; I'm not allowed to say the name of the world, but I can tell you that it's a cave and lava biome. This level takes place deep in a cavern and features giant sentient boulders known as Rrrumbas. These enemies spot you and roll towards you, destroying certain objects. Unlike Bulrushes, which appeared to have no way to defeat them, you can take down Rrrumbas with relative ease. 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

One method I found to avoid them is using the Drill Mushroom, which is present in this course. Using that, I could avoid them by burrowing underground as they rolled toward me. The Rrrumbas are the defining trait for this level, but I would be remiss if I neglected to call out the Topple Rocks. These tall, pillar-like stones stand upright, but can be pushed over to create domino-like chain reactions; they're also super satisfying to wall-jump off and send toppling down. Be careful, though, as it's easy to get caught underneath a falling Topple Rock when playing co-op.

One thing I love about Topple Rocks is how they gate certain areas, requiring you to think smart about how to get to the other side to knock them over and reach the secret area. In this stage, the Drill Mushroom is a huge help in that regard, letting me reach a pipe I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

The Wonder Seed in this stage is one of the most fun out of any that I've played in Super Mario Bros. Wonder to date. Mario and his friends turn into Spike Ball versions of themselves as they race through a ramp, coin, and enemy-filled area. As a speedy wrecking ball of destruction, Spike Ball Mario tears through bricks and enemies as he launches off ramps and collects coins, complete with bowling-pin sound effects. A nice touch is in how Mario's nose squishes as it presses into the ground. The feeling of momentum is fantastic, and it's a great power trip as you roll through legions of enemies and obstacles. The Rrrumbas never stood a chance.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

My second time playing through Where The Rrrumbas Rule, I noticed there wasn't a timer associated with this Wonder Effect, so I rolled backward to see if I could find anything interesting as Spike Ball Mario. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything particularly exciting that only Spike Ball Mario could have found, but it is neat to roll through at least a part of the main stage in this form.

Countdown to Drop Down

World 2 | Three-Star Difficulty

"Countdown to Drop Dow" served as the grand send-off for my extended hands-on session. This course took me back to World 2, Fluff-Puff Peaks. This was the most difficult of all the stages I played, thanks in large part to the level's main gimmick, the Dropdown Countdown Lifts. These special platforms display a number on them, and each time you land on it, the number depletes. Once it reaches zero, it dumps whatever or whoever is on top of the platform.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

As you ride around on Dropdown Countdown Lifts, the course offers plenty of reasons to want to jump, but you need to manage your actions wisely; too many false moves, and it's down to the pit Mario goes. Thankfully, if you leave the Lift for a short period of time, the number replenishes. That is little assurance when you're playing co-op, as the added characters only makes this already-tricky stage even more difficult as more characters land on the Lifts.

But it's not just when player-characters land on the Dropdown Countdown Lifts that the number depletes. And the devious designers over at Nintendo know this, which is why the second half of the stage introduces a little chaos in the form of a Spiny-throwing Lakitu. This is when it pays to have a power-up that can clear out Spinies who have hitched a ride or, ideally, take them out before they reach the platform in the first place. I found the best tactic was to take the Lakitu out when you encounter a higher platform and use his cloud to soar above the platforms for as long as possible.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

The stage also features Melon Piranha Plants, a special variation of one of Mario's most iconic enemies. Instead of snapping at Mario or spitting fireballs, these melon-themed monsters merely spit black melon seeds out. These seeds can't damage you, but they can push you in directions you may not want. However, I found success in bouncing off the seeds as I would airborne enemies to reach new heights.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

After playing through the trickiest level of my play session, I had high hopes for the Wonder Effect, but it was surprisingly tame by comparison. Rather than some wild transformation or over-the-top challenge, Mario transports to a new area where he must free-fall to find the Wonder Seed. As you skydive, stars fall next to you, granting you invincibility against enemies like the Smogrins. There's a timer, but neither time I played the stage really gave me reason to believe I was ever at risk of running out of time.

Though Countdown to Drop Down was the most challenging level I played, it was far from something I would describe as overly difficult. I know 2D Mario games typically feature a relatively steady difficulty ramp-up, and this level is merely in the second world. I'm hopeful that later stages will test my mettle as somebody who has been experiencing 2D Mario platformers since the first time he picked up an NES controller in the early '90s.

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