Saturday, October 21, 2023

Super Mario Wonder Review - A Wacky New Take On A Classic Formula

Nintendo's new offering for the latest Mario game on the Nintendo Switch is Super Mario Wonder. A bizarre & new take on the classic 2D side scrolling platform formula. It's certainly been a while since the last new and original Mario title for Switch, as mostly these days we've just gotten nothing but ports, remakes or remasters. Boring. It's time for something new. So we have been rewarded with Super Mario Wonder.

Sadly, Mario Wonder is no 3D mainline Mario game, unlike Mario Odyssey, Wonder is completely 2D, but with entirely brand new cartoon-like graphics. You travel across 6 main words in order to complete levels and gather all the Wonder flowers. Wonder flowers do strange things to the levels. It's pretty much Mario on crack. Mario ate too many Shrooms. I for one would like to know what's in those Wonder Flowers, because they do some really strange things to the levels.

The more I play Mario Wonder the more I feel like it's a combination of a bunch of crazy stages from Super Mario Maker. The levels & words are mostly generic Mario themed stuff, like an overworld, desert, swimming beach level, etc. But each time you get a Wonder Flower, you experience the level in new and ... very interesting ways.

Mario is not taking any Bull from you.

From the start you're overwhelmed with a character select screen that features whichever character you want to choose. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, a few Toads, Toadette, a couple of coloured Yoshis and Nabbiit. While the coloured Yoshis and Nabbit are for first time players that won't let you progress with Wonder Powers much, Mario & Luigi do help you progress more. (Between you & me the coloured Yoshis could have easily been their own skin instead of separate pallets) There are a few new power ups in the game, new to the Mario series once again. Such as Elephant Mario. Yes, you read that right. Elephant Mario. He turns himself into an Elephant. I wonder what this pitch meeting was like. Elephant Mario seemed fun at first, but after a while became quite repetitive and annoying. He doesn't really do much, besides turn into an Elephant. He swings his trunk around to get you through new places in each level, and can smash blocks with it. It does get overused at some times. After a while I started to avoid the Elephant Mario power up because it got kind of boring. 

Two other new forms of Mario in Mario Wonder are Bubble Mario and Drill Mario. Only three new forms? Really? Games like Mario Galaxy, Mario 64, and Mario Sunshine, and Mario Odyssey had a bunch of new features and items, and in Mario Wonder we only get some random Elephant thing, a Drill Mario and some Bubble Mario form. All sound very uninspiring. But they do actually help you unlock new areas in each level.

Speaking of levels, the worlds seem very bright and colourful. Well detailed and good looking on the Switch. The music is very nice and fun. In the background you see these weird Flower things. They sometimes talk to you in the game saying words of encouragement or other random things.  Sometimes the talking flowers take me by surprise but then I kind of like it because it feels like somebody else is watching you play and encouraging you to keep on going ahead. Other people find the talking flowers annoying, but I don't really.

Bowser turns into the actual castle this time, for whatever reason. 

 The main art style and presentation to Mario Wonder feels very nice and pleasing to look at overall. This is the first game in the Mario series with a new voice actor, after long time VA Charles Martinet's shocking retirement earlier in the year confusing many fans. Mario's new voice is Kevin Afghani. He's a much younger fellow, who started off helping out Nintendo do Voice Over work for commercials and Nintendo Directs. While this is his first game at stepping into a huge role, I felt that sometimes he is good and sometimes he isn't. The "It's a me" he says at the beginning of the game when you select Mario feels very off putting and uninspiring. But as the game goes on, when he says things like "Let's-a-go", "woah" "awawawaawawawawawa" and other odd expressions, he doesn't sound that bad. I'm sure it's just a matter of getting used to.

4 player couch co op but no proper online co op :(

Super Mario Wonder also offers 4 player couch co-op and some sort of online multiplayer. It isn't what you think though, as Nintendo still seem to struggle to incorporate Nintendo Switch Online in some way or form. So instead of playing along with other players at the same time, you see their "ghosts" as if they're replaying their time trial. At some points they'll help you by sharing hints or messages about where to go or what to do. While it's an interesting feature it doesn't really add anything new as we've seen this kind of mutiplayer before in things like Super Mario Maker.

I also noticed a few annoying things about Wonder. One thing, for instance - some classic moves seem to be gone from this game. Mario does not have a long jump, or a triple jump to my knowledge. I'm not sure if you unlock these later of if they're not in the game at all, but if they're not in the game at all that's annoying. Then again, in older Mario titles, he never had a triple jump or long jump anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter. But on a modern game, it feels quite limiting.

It feels strange to me as to why Charles Martinet got replaced as the voice actor for Mario but let's be real here. He's been the voice actor for him since 1996. In that announcement video he put up a couple of months back, he did look & sound tired. Kevin does a good job, and I hope he overall continues to fit the role. Super Mario Wonder to me feels fun to play in short bursts, after a while it can get a bit tedious and the game also gives sarcastic advice such as "if you're stuck on a hard level, try another one". But it's also the charm and amusing things about the game that counts. It does feel new & original for Mario, which i'm all for. I just wish he had better power ups. Maybe it could have been better without the Elephant, but it's still a fun and exciting experience.

Super Mario Wonder is available now on Nintendo Switch.


-Bright vibrant and colourful levels
-A new Mario game for everybody to enjoy
- Appealing to even new players
- Wonder Flowers provide a great new twist to each level, you don't know what to expect
-Kevin Afghani does a decent job of voicing Mario & Luigi in his first Mario game
- 4 player couch co op is fun and works well


- Elephant Mario, Bubble Mario & Drill Mario seem like last minute additions. Other Mario games had more exciting power ups.
- 2D instead of 3D
- 4 Player local Co-Op, why not 4 player online co op too?

4 stars out of 5

No code was obtained from the publisher for this review.

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