2D Mario has had a glow-up in the Super Mario Bros Wonder preview at PAX Aus. Attendees to the popular gaming expo had the opportunity to try out a demo of the latest Mario title almost 2 weeks before its official release on the 20th of November.
Mario And I Go Way Back
Mario and I go way back. Our first outing together was 1983’s Mario Cement Factory. My cousins had a NES so I had experienced Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and 3, but it wasn’t until we got our own SNES that I spent a lot of time in Super Mario’s World.
Ever since then I’ve loved the Mario platforming games, but I have a special affinity for the classic 2D titles. I’ve felt the later 2D Mario games have felt a bit lacking. They’ve still been fun, but some undefined quality was missing from them. I’m very happy to report that the Super Mario Bros Wonder preview on show at PAX Aus 2023 has found its mojo.
The Super Mario Bros Wonder Preview
I didn’t really pay attention to the story in the game. First, it’s a Mario title. The story is ancillary to the gameplay. Second, I only had 15 minutes and wanted to experience as much of the game as I could. The Super Mario Bros Wonder Direct has some story information if that is your thing. There are also the beginner friendly characters of the Yoshis and Nabbit that I didn’t try. As cool as those are for rookie Mario players, I am not one of those.
Right from the start, the Super Mario Bros Wonder preview lets you know you’re in for something different. The first level showcased the new elephant powerup and what that is capable of. Straight away players could see the advantages of its abilities. Smashing through blocks revealed hidden secrets.
There are blue flowers scattered around the level. Some of them require water from the elephant powerup but when activated add more to the level. Some spit out coins, but the exciting ones produced blocks that formed a path to a new area, giving players a sense of wonder (hey, that’s probably how it got its title) as they explored levels. It made going out of my way to activate the blue flowers worthwhile and rewarding.
The Wonder Seeds
The Wonder Seeds in the Super Mario Bros Wonder preview have really shaken things up. Levels had at least two (or more) to find, one just for completing the level. The other seeds were hidden. Finding a level’s Wonder Flower will cause various effects. This varies from level to level and ends when a Wonder Seed is found. For one effect I was chased by a stampede of enemies. If I was able to keep up with them, I bypassed the end flagpole and found a secret exit, resulting in another Wonder Seed.
Other Super Mario Bros Wonder Preview Features
Returning in the Super Mario Bros Wonder preview is the item storage. This allowed me to keep a powerup in reserve in case I got hit. It could also allow for item management, swapping between powerups depending on what the situation calls for.
Once a level is completed, it pops into a quick access menu. This listed all the levels I had completed and allowed me to quickly revisit them while also letting me see what I still had to collect.
The biggest new feature is the badge system. While the characters (apart from the Yoshis and Nabbit) play the same, gameplay can be modified with badges. I was able to play with a floating badge (similar to Peach in Super Mario Bros 2) and a wall jump badge. Wall jumps are normally available, but this badge allowed me a single wall jump straight up. Other badges had passive effects like starting with a mushroom or having coins pulled to me. The gameplay badges were fun and meant I could reach collectibles without the need for certain powerups.
A Return To Greatness
If the Super Mario Bros Wonder preview I played is any indication, the full game is going to be amazing. I haven’t talked about how the game looks or sounds but rest assured it is gorgeous and brilliantly scored. Bits and pieces have been taken from a raft of different Mario platforming games and been combined into something new and original. There’s enough nostalgia to keep the stalwarts entertained and the new additions provide both an accessible way for new players to ease into the game while simultaneously giving returning players a challenge.
Super Mario Bros Wonder launches on the Nintendo Switch on the 20th October for AU$79.95.