Super Mario Bros. Wonder breathes new life into the franchise on Nintendo Switch

Super Mario Bros. Wonder artwork. Image courtesy of Nintendo
Super Mario Bros. Wonder artwork. Image courtesy of Nintendo /

A ways back I was lucky enough to get some extended play of Super Mario Bros. Wonder at the Seattle Nintendo Live event and I was immediately blown away by what felt like a necessary reinvention of the wheel. The “Wonder” feature seemed incredible and created many surprising scenarios but I had to…no pun intended…wonder, could the game keep that up or would it get old?

Now, having played the full game, I have to say I’m blown away by the game’s ability to just keep coming up with more and more insane ideas.

I honestly expected Nintendo to put forth the leg work to at least come up with a handful of interesting ideas but I didn’t expect a bag of tricks this large. I didn’t really see the same Wonder Flower effect twice until the third world.

The Wonder Flower effects create many effects that actually feel like you’re suddenly playing a completely different game. Your characters suddenly walk on the background and the game becomes like an old-school Zelda dungeon, or your character becomes a massive shadow that you have to navigate a maze of deadly plants. There’s even one where my character suddenly became a vcake. Like a massive thick piece of cake. And yes, I absolutely believe that once the internet is done discovering the unfortunate new variety of Goombas which look too much like a very specific part of a horse we’re going to be seeing a lot of awful “Cake Daisy” fanart.

Super-Mario-Wonder-Tall-Bois /

Seriously, I hate those Goombas so much. Daisy looks like she’s noping out of the situation.

My only complaint with the Wonder mechanic is that while the vast majority of the things that Wonder Flower brings are fun, there are a couple that made me genuinely want to snap my Joy-Cons in half. None more so than the musical platforms.

You know those things from Super Mario 3D World that would blink on and off to the music? Imagine platforms that only appear briefly to the rhythm of a song slowly picking up tempo. Then imagine that there is no ground underneath you. Then imagine that the platforms get STUPID tiny towards the end. Here’s the end of one of the first times you encounter this mess.

It’s like someone heard the famous Sonic the Hedgehog drowning music and was like, “how do we turn the part where you think you’re about to drown into a whole damn stage?”

But musical platforms aside, I think this might be the best Mario platformer I’ve ever played. The characters are all lovingly rendered, the stages are absolutely beautiful and full of life and detail, the powers and events are fresh and fun and always ready to catch you off guard, and, honestly, I’ve never seen a more intimidating version of Bowser.

When Bowser (now in the form of a flying castle) turns and you find out that he’s bigger than you first thought, the sense of scale was so startling to me I actually leaned back in my chair like someone was walking in front of me at the movies.

One of the moments that really caught me was how often you find weird little details that the artists just added solely for fun. For example, if you get the elephant power-up and finish the stage with a trunk filled with water, your character will suddenly splash the person handing you a seed causing a flower to bloom on their head. It’s a weird little detail, but at the same time when the game is constantly displaying fun little details like that it makes the way you play feel like it matters which is a feeling I’ve NEVER gotten from a Mario game. I love it.

I haven’t beaten the game yet. I’ve only beaten the first three worlds but honestly, unless the rest of the game tanks HARD I can’t imagine it not staying this fun the whole time and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game is ready to throw at me.