The last time audiences saw Mario was on the big screen, when he teamed up with Princess Peach, rescued the Mushroom Kingdom (and Brooklyn) from Bowser… and was voiced by Chris Pratt. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” reached a box office high score of over $1.3 billion globally, breaking records for video game adaptations. But the iconic Italian plumber’s next adventure is back on the Nintendo Switch in a brand new 2D platformer titled Super Mario Bros. Wonder, out Oct. 20.
The game, a psychedelic twist on the classic Super Mario sidescroller, finds Mario and Co. saving yet another domain in danger: the Flower Kingdom. As Bowser threatens the land and its floral inhabitants, Mario runs through a variety of levels, collecting Wonder Seeds and stomping on new enemies along the way.
Joining him are Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Toadette and Princess Daisy, who joins the franchise as a playable character for the first time ever. Nabbit and a slew of multi-colored Yoshis are also available as characters for beginners, as they don’t take damage from enemies.
During a recent preview event, Variety spent some time playing Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Here are five takeaways from our gameplay session.
Welcome to the Flower Kingdom
Goodbye, Mushroom Kingdom, and hello, Flower Kingdom! Mario leaves his home turf behind and enters a brand new land in Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Ruled by the petite Prince Florian, the Flower Kingdom is populated by all new inhabitants. The typical, mushroom-headed Toads get a floral makeover, and talking flowers cheer you on as you complete levels and defeat new types of enemies. In addition to the normal Koopas, Piranha Plants and Goombas, there are chomping Maw Maws, bouncy Bloomps and the adorably angry Goombrats. One thing stays the same, though: Bowser is here to cause trouble. As he enters the Flower Kingdom, a Wonder Seed merges the Koopa King with his airship, creating a monstrous Super-Bowser that Mario must vanquish.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder introduces some fun new power-ups, including the previously shown Elephant Mario, which allows the red-capped adventurer to transform into a mustachioed elephant, grow a giant trunk and store water in it (Mario can then spout water to stun nearby enemies). Another power-up turns Mario into a drilling machine, allowing him to break items and scurry underneath obstacles. It resembles the Spin Drill item in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Another power-up lets you blow bubbles to use as temporary platforms and reach new heights. Of course, Wonder also features the classic Mario power-ups, including the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Super Star.
The trademark of this game, what sets it apart from all other Mario adventures, is the Wonder Flower. An item typically found toward the middle of each level, the Wonder Flower spices up platforming in unexpected ways. In one level, it causes warp pipes to slither across the ground like snakes. In another, it triggers a herd of sheep to barrel through the level, with Mario balancing on top. One Wonder Flower essentially turns Mario into a balloon-like Bloomp, causing him to float in the sky, dodging obstacles in a vertical level. And one turns players into Goombas, who must avoid enemies by hiding behind shrubs. The only way to stop these peculiarities is to collect the Wonder Seed, placed later on in the level, which turns off the Wonder effect. Players must collect Wonder Seeds to unlock new levels.
Mario and his friends can now harness the powers of all-new badges to gain new powers in levels. The new badge system allows players to choose gameplay-altering modifications to their characters, such as a vertical wall jump or gaining more coins (think perks in Call of Duty). However, only one badge can be applied at a time, so you must choose carefully. Do you have trouble landing on precarious platforms while enemies bombard you? You can now equip a badge that allows Mario to use his hat as a parachute to slow his descent and land more safely. Are there coins just out of reach, no matter how high you jump? Another badge lets you extend your jump by crouching down for a few seconds, before launching you even further.
Like previous Mario games, you can play with up to three friends in couch co-op or online. But for the first time in a mainline Super Mario game, you can join up with other random players online and complete levels together. If that sounds too chaotic, you can opt to just see other online players as shadowy, non-interactable avatars and watch their progress as you complete a course. There are also special time-trial levels in which you race against other players to see who can reach the flagpole first. These are shorter levels that split up the longer main courses, and they can earn you more badges upon completion.