New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating and My age rating.

Gameplay sum up: Like the 2D perspective, side-scrolling Super Mario games before it, the base gameplay consists of entering stages from each of the eight world maps and navigating levels in a set amount of time as you plow forward; collect gold coins (100 nets you a life—hit "P" blocks for a slew of blue coins or jump through red rings to collect 8 red coins; get all in allotted time to receive a random power-up) jump, swing (with vines/chains/rope), shimmy and bounce (with portable trampolines) over gaps, dodge traps, bypass barriers (by scaling over or destroying them with enemy bombs), stomp on enemies (along with, in a handful of levels, Yoshi; he can swallow enemies and use his extended jump to reach higher places) and collect power-ups—from returning Fire Flowers and Mushrooms, to new additions like the Ice Flower (freeze enemies and use their frozen blocks to throw or reach higher places), Penguin Suit (swim faster, gain traction on ice and slide across it and water) and Propeller Mushroom—to reach stages' end and finish with a classic leap onto the flagpole...

Once that world's halfway point is reached, you'll complete a Koopaling fortress level, defeat one of the eight Koopaling bosses at its end, complete that world's remaining half, navigate that world's end fortress, defeat the first fortress boss for a second time in a (Kamek The "Magikoopa") magic enhanced battle, collect the next world's key (often following a battle with Bowser Jr. on his airship, in later worlds), and then move onto the next—which ultimately brings you closer to defeating Bowser himself and, in turn, rescuing Princess Peach. Additionally, the overworld map function is identical to Super Mario 3/World's design, and in- between levels you may visit the unlocked Toad houses to (depending on their roof color) acquire Star power-ups, match power-up picture panels for multiple power-ups (which can be viewed and applied at any time on the overworld map before entering stages) or use a cannon to align and shoot yourself into moving lines of numbered bubbles, netting you the total in 1-ups (lives).

The majority of world maps have more than one route (as well as secret routes that lead to world-skipping cannons) and enemies often block your way as they patrol along a set path; if you bump into them, you will be made to dodge their attacks while collecting Toad tokens—acquiring all of these tokens rewards you with three Mushroom power-ups and clears the way. Also, after you complete a number of levels, you can revisit certain stages to cart distressed Toads safely to a level's end (netting you 1-ups), and Princess Peach's World 1 castle can be visited at any time to purchase hint movies (level walkthroughs, hints, secrets, etc.) with obscure Star Coins previously amassed from completed levels. Last, of all, this game introduces a (local only) "drop-in/drop-out" (up to 3 additional players can jump in and out at any time) co-op campaign, along with the multi-player versus; "Free Mode," in which up to 4 players compete during stages for the highest total score, and "Coin Battle," where rival players scatter to collect more gold coins than others before the end flagpole is reached.

Comic mischief: While Mario, Luigi, the Blue and Yellow Toad duo and Princess Peach celebrate the Princess' birthday at her castle, a giant cake is unexpectedly brought in with (unbeknownst to the aforementioned present) several uninvited guests contained within. Bowser's eight Koopaling minions then abruptly jump out from said giant cake, grab Princess Peach and escape via Bowser Jr's airship, as Mario, Luigi and their Toad duo spring into action, giving chase. With an unbelievably unlucky Princess kidnapped for the umpteenth time, Mario and the gang will need to stomp their way through the eight enemy-filled worlds, the Koopalings, Bowser Jr. and ultimately, Bowser himself, to rescue Princess Peach from his ever persistent grasp, yet again...

Your enemies range greatly, from commonplace Koopa Troopa turtles and mushroom- like Goombas, to their several sub-types (including the "Dry Bone" skeleton and flying Koopa Troopas, giant/tiny Goombas, etc.), fire-ball-spitting Piranha Plants, Bullet Bills (flying bullets), exploding Bob-ombs, Boo ghosts and Cheep Cheep fish just to name a few, along with countless other types throughout the eight worlds. Mario (Luigi and/or one of the two Toads during co-op) can dispatch of the above enemies in a number of ways, including the Fire Flower to shoot fire-balls, the Ice Flower and Penguin Suit to freeze them into blocks of ice (that, along with barrels, can then be thrown into other enemies and shattered), a simple jump or downwards butt stomp (simultaneous co-op butt stomps send out shock waves), the Propeller power-up to drill down onto hostiles from the sky, triggered Bob-ombs to blow them up, and a toss of Koopa shells to take out any on its plane of movement. All the above causes enemies to simply drop or fly off-screen, or, when Yoshi's—he can also swallow and spit enemies out—stomp attack is used, disappear into puffs of smoke with a pronounced *pop.*

On the same note, players can sabotage one another during co-op and versus modes, by directing each other into traps, enemies and gaps or leaping on each other's heads until one falls to their doom. As for artificial hostility toward Mario and friends, stages are filled with traps (sinking/vanishing platforms; crushing blocks; giant drills; falling icicles and stalactites; twirling fire pillars, etc.), gaps (quick sand, poison pools, lava) and enemies, which begin with wimpy Goombas and Koopas, but ramp up to enemies that cast ice/fire and fling hammers/boomerangs, homing Cheep Cheep fish, lightning- fast Blooper squid, swooping bats, etc; when Mario and friends are finished by enemy attacks, they'll grimace and drop off-screen, legs flailing. However, all is presented in a whimsical, light-hearted fashion (enemies literally dance to the level songs, and the worst of "cutscenes" consist of a boss screaming in mock terror then slapping his own behind to taunt you), and although some younger ages could find Boo ghosts and their eerie mansions a tad spooky, or the giant, fire-spewing (last boss) Bowser somewhat menacing, like all Mario games before it, this is suitable for all ages.

Content review posted: 03/31/10

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