BGS 2023 Hands-on – Super Mario Bros. Wonder
We were given the chance to play a small, ten minute long demo of the upcoming Super Mario Bros. Wonder at this year’s edition of Brasil Game Show. After a handful of years in which the overall feeling was that Nintendo was comfortable just re-releasing Mario games from the Wii U era, as well as underwhelming remasters and undercooked sports spinoffs, the announcement of said game felt like a breath of fresh air, even though going back to a more generic, 2D sidescrolling perspective after being graced with the near perfect Super Mario Odyssey did feel a bit weird at first.
Well, you want to know if the game itself is good. It is very hard to assess that with such a small demo, but I had the chance of playing two levels. With what little there was in terms of time, visual variety, and level design (yes, I just played two very bland grassland levels with little to no design creativity), I was able to check the game’s adorable visuals, and test the brand new Elephant powerup, which is being excessively touted as a gamechanger for 2D Mario games in general. It isn’t.
Sure, it’s fun to move around and destroy blocks and enemies with your trunk (you do so by pressing the Y button), and you can even “unlock” a ranged attack if you stand on top of a source of water for a few seconds. The elephant is so strong it could even push pipes around, changing the overall level layout, even if just by a very tiny margin. But that felt like, well, another powerup. Get hit by a Goomba or a Koopa Troopa, and you lose the powerup, becoming jolly old Mario again. Collect two of the same powerups, and you can keep one in stock. Not exactly breaking new ground.
The handful of levels at my disposal were your typical grassland fare, also not pushing a lot of creative boundaries for the series. The game did look adorable, however; Super Mario Bros. Wonder is easily the best looking 2D Mario game I have ever seen. But that was it for the demo… a couple of levels, witnessing some cute visuals, and playing as an elephant for a few minutes. In no moment did I dislike the demo, but in no moment did I feel wowed about it. In a post-Odyssey world, it’s hard to.
I left the demo session thinking that Super Mario Bros. Wonder looked great and had a fun idea or two, but also wondered if what was being showcased couldn’t have just been DLC for Mario Maker instead. Granted, with such a short and uncreative preview build, there’s little to assess about what to expect from the full game in general, besides the overall thought that yep, it is another 2D Mario. Guess I’ll have to wait for the final release to find out, but as of now, it felt just… fine, I suppose.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is slated for an October 20th release, exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Of course.