'Super Mario Bros. Wonder' Proves 2D Platformers Can Still Totally Bring It

And you can finally play as the princess

Fact checked by Jerri Ledford

Key Features

  • Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the Super Mario World sequel we've always wanted.

  • It's a 2D-scrolling platform game—in 2023.

  • Finally, Mario isn't rescuing a damsel in distress.

<p>Nintendo</p> Super Mario Bros. Wonder


Super Mario Bros. Wonder

The most important thing about Super Mario Bros. Wonder is that, finally, an animated man is not rescuing an animated woman. The next best thing is that Super Mario World fans (i.e., everybody) will finally get another sequel.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a 2D side-scrolling platform game, and while there have been various 2D Mario platformers on handheld consoles over the years, most of the regular console games have been either in 3D or other kinds of game featuring everybody's favorite dungareed Brooklyn plumber. Wonder, which comes out next month, promised to be a true sequel to one of the best video games of all time, stuffed with all the goodness that modern gaming and years of game-making experience can bring.

"I grew up playing Super Mario World and consider it a masterpiece and one of the greatest games ever," Lucas Wyland, founder of gaming site Steambase, told Lifewire via email.

Wonder Stuff

Super Mario Bros. Wonder launches at the end of October and already looks amazing. It's the familiar gameplay of all those classic pre-3D Mario games, only with the hardware power of modern consoles and the game-design know-how taken from almost 30 years of making amazing Mario games.

When I asked several sources for comments for this article, many mentioned the nostalgic appeal of 2D platform games. And while nostalgia for a mostly-lost game genre is totally a thing, I don't think it applies to Super Mario World and other Nintendo 2D platformers. Nostalgia tends to evaporate as soon as you revisit the source. Those old graphics and old-fashioned game dynamics just don't cut it anymore.

Partly, it's that game design has improved, and partly, it's that our tastes are more sophisticated and accustomed to more complexity. It's like watching old movies. Sometimes, the pacing is just too slow, and the acting styles too stilted for modern tastes.

But Super Mario World is every bit as good today as it was in the past. The engaging gameplay, clever and compelling level design, and cute graphics make for an equally addictive experience today.

"Super Mario World holds a special place in the hearts of gamers worldwide. It's not easy to surpass such a classic, but 2D platformers in 2023 have a unique advantage—they can build upon the lessons learned from past games," lifelong gamer and a professional in the technology industry Max Shak told Lifewire via email. "Developers today have access to advanced technology and a deep understanding of game design. They can create intricate levels, compelling storytelling, and innovative gameplay mechanics that pay homage to classics while offering fresh experiences."

<p>Nintendo</p> Super Mario Bros. Wonder


Super Mario Bros. Wonder

In comparison, Super Mario 64, the first 3D Mario game, which launched only a few years after Super Mario World, has aged poorly. The graphics are glitchy, muddy, and plain ugly, and the gameplay is slow. Nintendo has since honed its 3D mastery, and Super Mario 64 was a landmark game in that it defined how 3D platform games would work, but it's the 2D games that have survived unscathed.

And now we're getting another one.

Sequel Lite

Super Mario Bros. Wonder looks like a typical Switch game, with big, bold graphics and Nintendo's special mix of cute+odd. One new power-up, for example, turns Mario into a giant elephant Mario who can spray water and whack enemies with his trunk.

But the game brings the Mario franchise up to date in another way. In Wonder, Mario has to rescue the entire kingdom from Bowser's latest scheme instead of having to rescue the kidnapped Princess yet again. Even better, you can actually play as the Princess, with—according to the promo video linked above—the same abilities as Mario.

<p>Nintendo</p> Super Mario Bros. Wonder


Super Mario Bros. Wonder

This belated move into the 20th century seems to have utterly confused Bowser, who—instead of kidnapping the Princess as usual, has instead merged his body with a building. Yes, a building.

For fans, this might be an even more anticipated sequel than this year's Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Yes, there was already a sequel to Super Mario WorldSuper Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island—but it never felt as epic as its iconic predecessor. Writing for videogame news site Polygon, reviewer Michael McWhertor writes that he feels like this is the "direct sequel," much more than Yoshi's Island, and on looks alone, I agree.

This is shaping up to be an amazing year for Switch owners.

Read the original article on Lifewire.