It’s been 11 years since the last proper Mario side-scroller, a fact that surprises Nintendo’s veteran exec Takashi Tezuka when I point it out. Tezuka has worked on dozens of projects since the launch of 2012’s New Super Mario Bros. U – including Super Mario Maker, Nintendo’s create-your-own-Mario sandbox. Still, such a wait for more handcrafted Mario levels seems notable.
Why so long? Speaking with Nintendo, it sounds like the company’s desire to keep its classic side-scrolling formula fresh has remained paramount. There have been so many 2D Mario games now – including a whole string of releases that sought to emphasise their freshness by sticking “New Super Mario” in their title. After those – and after letting players go wild with the company’s own Mario toolkit – what could Nintendo do next? Something that feels truly new again, I’m happy to report.
In Super Mario Bros. Wonder I can be a Mario who shoots bubbles, capturing enemies and errant koopa shells in upwards floating soap suds, then suddenly transform into some form of sentient goomba – though I’m still Mario with his iconic hat, of course. Waddling across platforms and dodging enemies via stealth mechanics, I pass a talking flower who loudly wonders how I’ll taste. Sure, why not.