Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Third Rate Game Play: New Super Mario Bros. Wii (World 7)

Game: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

System: Wii

Developer: Nintendo EAD Group 4

Publisher: Nintendo

Players: Mark, Brian, Tony, and Alex

Experience: All but Brian have played the game before, Alex and Tony have beaten it.

Check after the jump for our article!

When it was first announced in E3 2009, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was met with surprise and concern.  The game resembled in some ways the worlds of New Super Mario Brothers, but yet it introduced motion controls and four-player cooperative play.  Regardless of the initial reception, it would become one of the more popular titles on the Wii console.  Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself.

New Super Mario Brothers Wii was developed by Nintendo EAD Group 4, headed by Produer Hiroyuki Kimura.  Before becoming EAD Group 4, the development team was mostly focused on the Mario Advance series, with Kimura acting as director throughout the series which began with Super Mario Advance (based off Super Mario Bros. 2) and ended with Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3.  Kimura had worked in larger roles before this as the director of Metroid II: Return of Samus and Wave Race 64.  With the creation of EAD Group 4, however, Kimura was placed into a Producer role.  The group is known for having produced Yoshi Touch and Go, the Big Brain Academy series, the Pikmin series (and the New Play Control! Pikmin games), and most notably, the New Super Mario Bros. series.

New Super Mario Brothers was originally announced at E3 2004 to push the Nintendo DS, a new handheld device that emphasized two-screens and touch-screen controls.  The game was a return to classic Mario gameplay mechanics last seen in Super Mario World.  The game finally released in 2006 and is now among one of the top-selling games of the generation, Mario franchise, and possibly of all time.  New Super Mario Brothers Wii acts as the game’s sequel, albeit the concept had been changed to be more based on multiplayer cooperative experiences and motion controls.  At this point, Mario Advance 4 Level Designer Shigeyuki Asuke had become the series Director.

Of course, if we were to dive deeper into the history of both Mario and Nintendo, this article would end up much larger.  Nintendo was founded in 1889 as a Hanafuda card producer, but as the company expanded into multiple experimental directions, then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi turned the company toward electronic entertainment.  Gunpei Yokoi created the Game and Watch device, while Shigeru Miyamoto would be behind the creation of Donkey Kong, the company’s most famous arcade title in 1981.  Nintendo’s major pedigree would be established through the creation and release of the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983 and 1985 respectively.  Major franchises held by Nintendo as publisher include Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Star Fox, Kirby (through HAL Labs), Fire Emblem (through Intelligent Systems), Metroid, the Wii series, and Pokemon (through The Pokemon Company and GameFreak).  Mario as a console platformer franchise began in 1985 with Super Mario Brothers, and the rest is history.

"Developers at Nintendo have dreamed of creating a simultaneous multiplayer Super Mario Bros.™ game for decades. The Wii console finally makes that dream come true for everyone. Now players can navigate the side-scrolling worlds alone as before or invite up to three others to join them at the same time on the same level at any point in the game for competitive and cooperative multiplayer fun. With the multiplayer mode, the newest installment of the most popular video game franchise is designed to bring yet another type of family entertainment into living rooms and engage groups of friends in fast-paced Super Mario Bros. fun."
-Official Description
"This time, as I worked on the game, I wanted moms and dads who had until now just watched their children play games to play themselves. Since New Super Mario Bros. Wii went on sale, I've heard a lot of people talk about how at first they held back and said, "No, I don't need to play," but then when they tried it out, thought, "Oh wow, I can do it, too!"

So this time I hope people who have been unacquainted with video games will try it and enjoy it. When you can't clear something no matter how hard you try, if you use the demos you'll be able to move forward, and then you're sure to realize that you, too, can enjoy one of the supposedly difficult New Super Mario Bros. Wii action games.

I think players will experience the greatest pleasure when they think, "I've gotten good at this!" So I would be overjoyed if players roped in as many other players as possible and they all enjoyed the game with smiles on their faces."
-Shigeyuki Asuke, Game Director, Iwata Asks Vol. 3

New Super Mario Brothers Wii is a side-scrolling platformer adventure in the vein of the older Super Mario Brothers franchise.  The goal of the game is to progress to the flagpole at the end of each stage and ultimately face-off against the Koopalings and Bowser Jr. in order to save Princess Peach from the evil King Bowser once again.  The biggest addition to this game, however, is that up to three other people can join a single player to cooperatively play through each stage as Luigi and two different-colored Toads.  These players can interact with one another to help each other defeat enemies and get to hard-to-reach areas, but at the same time, they can also hinder and impede movement of each other, leading to potentially more deaths and squabbles than one might expect.

The game’s worlds are much like that of New Super Mario Brothers, but instead of a split layout, the game is entirely linear in its world display.  Part-way into each world, players may encounter secret exits which can lead to special stages or even cannons which can send them into a world farther into the game.  Also, as in other older Mario games, there are Mushroom houses which can provide both items and extra lives to players in order to improve their chances against the many levels in the game.  Furthermore, each map contains a trap or enemy that, when encountered, starts a small miniature battle sequence which requires collecting every Toad-sphere to complete the challenge.
In each stage there are three golden coins, and upon completing each world and gathering all the world’s coins, a special stage unlocks in a 9th world.  Furthermore, these coins can be used to purchase superplay videos which show off how well the team can play the game and also provide hints to help other players make their way through obstacles.  Also, if players die too often in the game, they can choose to use the Super Guide which will play through the level until the player interrupts the game.  This means anyone can complete the game, even if they cannot complete an extremely hard level themselves.

New Super Mario Brothers Wii released to high acclaim, being seen as a highly-inventive look at the Super Mario Brothers franchise, and it is among the highest-selling games of both the Wii and all time.  Some worried that the game was a little too samey compared to the original NSMB game, but at the same time, the game’s usage of multiple players and unique level design saved it from any similar environments.

After New Super Mario Brothers Wii, EAD Group 4 grew in size to accommodate production of other game products, but it would be three years before the group’s next games would emerge.  NSMBWii’s Director Asuke would shift toward EAD Group 3’s development of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword during its peak development period, and as a result, new directors would have to join Group 4 to develop new NSMB games.  Star Fox 64 3D’s Planning Coordinator Yusuke Amano would become the Director of New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS.  The development of this game was comprised of new developers to the Mario franchise; these developers were taught how to produce Mario games through what was called Mario Cram School.  NSMB2’s biggest gameplay focus would be not only to complete each level but to gather as many coins as possible.  This was further expanded into a new mode called Coin Rush, in which players are given three stages to complete without dying once, and the coin scores could then be shared via StreetPass to other players.  NSMB2 was also the first Nintendo Mario game to have paid DLC.

Not four months later, Nintendo and EAD Group 4 released another New Super Mario Brothers game to coincide with the launch of the Wii U: New Super Mario Bros. U.  This game is more a sequel to NSMBWii than a completely new iteration of the series.  The Map and Level Designer of NSMBWii, Masataka Takemoto, took the Director role from Asuke to produce NSMBU, while Asuke took a role as a Map and Level Designer in the project.  Significant additions to NSMBU include a full world map a la Super Mario World, a new Boost Mode using the Wii U GamePad, and a new Challenges Mode.  This game was met with mixed response as it released too closely to other NSMB games, although it is currently the highest-selling Wii U title to date, perhaps behind only Nintendo Land.

Currently, EAD Group 4 is working on the development of NSMBU’s currently first DLC content: New Super Luigi U.  Group 4 is also working on releasing Pikmin 3, expected for release this August.

Well, you all wanted us to do another multi-part Let’s Play series, and this is it!  Presenting an eight-part Third Rate Game Play dedicated to the four-player cooperative adventure of New Super Mario Brothers Wii.  We originally filmed the first three worlds in 2010 as part of a show called Game On: Let’s Play, but we never got to release these episodes on the Rowan Television Network.  We then recorded the next two parts mid-2011 with the aim to finish the game as Third Rate Game Play, but we would only get it completed after one more recording session in late 2012.  Finally, we will be releasing every part together for you all to enjoy (and not in as long a time as Ocarina of Time 3D…ahem).

Finally in the last of our sessions, we get up into the clouds and ponder whether we had made a huge mistake or not.  We end up exploring some interesting elements of the world, but we do miss some other surprises that could be found in the Tower stage.  On that note, we make do with our skills and bubble techniques to reach Ludwig and give him the what-for!

After spending another year and some change from our second, two-world recording session of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, we decided to take one final dash through the game right before the release of the Wii U.  There was some thought process that doing this would ultimately result in releasing these videos before New Super Mario Bros. U came out, but our Ocarina of Time playthrough took precedent, delaying the release of these videos until recently.

We filmed this out in a new location, and I am not too much of a fan of the audio.  There was a lot of echoing in the room, and even filling it with blankets did not end the echoing situation.  Still, it was a different experience, one that we were okay with at the time.  We really need to invest in lavalier mics.

I am honestly surprised by how quickly we made it through this world.  Perhaps it is shorter than anticipated, but it is among the shorter levels in our playthrough, even with the long levels and crazy activity within them.  We ended up finding a secret exit that allowed us to skip a treacherous level, so that certainly helped.  The castle level became a bloodbath, with lots of disorganization resulting in the deaths of several of us many times before reaching the boss.  Bubbles could not save us from ourselves and giant spiked pillars.  Interestingly enough, the deaths were a bit more balanced this time around, well excluding Blue Toad, but he's the outlier.  Don't mess with Blue Toad.

One more section remains...and what a world it is!

3RM Says: Flying blocks, rotating platforms, dancing pipes, wide pits.
And I can't get a good lift-off!

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