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Editor’s note: David discovers that the best way to play through New Super Mario Bros. Wii may not be the nicest way to play with other people — and that the game captures the style of co-ops of decades past. -Jason
Like many gamers of my generation, my first real gaming memory is of Super Mario Bros. I received my NES when I was about 3, mostly because my father was a closet gamer; otherwise, it could’ve been years before I got my first gaming system.
As a result of this gift early in my life, I learned how to duck and jump at the same time I learned how to catch a baseball.
You’d think that this early gaming start would make me a Mario master. Well, a few short years after receiving an NES, my parents bought me a Genesis — and from that point, a Nintendo system was no longer my main console.
For the next few years, anything with the Mario name was a curse. I couldn’t drive a straight line in Mario Kart, I couldn’t pull off a smash attack with the proficiency of a hadouken, and I stopped being invited to Mario’s “parties.”
I was invited to a different kind of Mario party for my friend’s big bash in honor of the release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. A game was well under way when I arrived, but I was able to easily jump in as the Blue Toad. Considering that Nintendo has such a large cast of Mario characters, it peeved me that I had to play the second Toad. Why did Peach have to go and get kidnapped? Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of my favorite games, and I guess it’s only in Mario’s dreams that the plucky plumber doesn’t have to trek all over the Mushroom Kingdom to save her again and again.
As we began to play, I felt the nostalgia wash over me, and before I knew it, I was soaked in the past. As far as level design goes, this is no different than the DS game, Super Mario World, or even Super Mario Bros., when you got down to it. I expected this to be as difficult for me as any other Mario game.
That wasn’t the case, and I proved to be pretty skilled in Mario’s new adventure. I totally blew in New Super Mario Bros. for DS, so what was different here? Some may suggest it was good teamwork and cooperation that helped me. In fact, it was the opposite. I made it through each level by finding the dirtiest tactics to keep me going ahead and leaving Mario, Luigi, and the wussy Yellow Toad in my dust.
Mario hits a block to release four Penguin suits? All mine. Luigi makes it to the other side of those tricky Thwomps? I turn into a bubble and float my way over to him. Oh, Yellow Toad, making a death-defying leap over a pit? Sorry, pal, I’m jumping on your skull to reach the coin up there. Have a nice trip. See you next fall.
Honestly, this was all unintentional at first. The screen gets crowded with four characters bouncing everywhere, and I just happened to bounce to the top. It wasn’t long before I began to enjoy it. I was the first to the door in every halfway castle and the one who landed the final blows in boss battles, and it was all because I played like a dick.
Interestingly enough, I was never blamed for the actions of the dirty Blue Toad. With everybody switching controllers so often, no one knew who played what. Long after I’d stopped playing, I heard players lamenting over the Blue Toad running too far ahead or hopping in a bubble while everyone else had clearly done so already. Soon enough, the Blue Toad had a life of its own.
This is what Leo gets for being a Blue Toad.
Playing the 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on Xbox Live later, I fought for each pizza, whether I needed it or not. It wasn’t long before I heard “Quit being a Blue Toad!” Is this the beginning of a new meme? Perhaps it won’t be heard beyond my social circle, but seeing the Blue Toad insult creep into a 20-year-old game shows just how well New Super Mario Bros. Wii captures this particular style of co-op game.