Editorial: Cooperative Multiplayer on the Wii

Oh hai readers! This weekend, some former Lusipurr.com staff came down for a visit, and when we were not watching hilariously bad movies, we were playing multiplayer games. Among those was Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, which opts for cooperative rather than competitive play. This had me thinking about New Super Mario Bros. Wii and the idea of the cooperative party game. And so, I offer up my thoughts on the two games.

I like the game, though. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying.
NSMBW does little as a single-player experience but has fun and chaotic multiplayer.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is, like NSMB, a solid 2D Mario platformer that on its own does not do anything particularly exciting or memorable. In fact, the multiplayer is really the main thing that makes NSMBW notable as a Mario game. Thankfully, the multiplayer is fun, with players having just enough ability to screw with their friends without one troll ruining the game for everyone else. While I certainly never have found the level design in NSMBW to be phenomenal, its multiplayer manages to make up for what would otherwise be a forgettable game.

This is, of course, not to say that New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a terrible game without its multiplayer. It is, like its DS predecessor, merely forgettable; both are solid and well-made games that simply manage to do nothing especially exciting or interesting. If either had come out in the days of Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World, they may have been more memorable, but for some reason neither game manages to capture the retro-nostalgia feel for me at any level near what Mega Man 9 did. Perhaps graphics had something to do with it, but I quite honestly love the art style of the New Super Mario Bros. games.

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, much like NSMBW, would be a well-made but otherwise not very memorable game without its multiplayer. Adding different characters with fixed abilities was a smart move; it allows young players who are less familiar with how Kirby works to learn the game without the copy ability and allows older players to have some variety in the way the game is played. Still, the level design is not especially phenomenal, and it is clear from playing it that Return to Dreamland is strongest as a multiplayer experience.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland are in many ways extremely similar. Both are made or broken by the strength of their multiplayer, and both fortunately have strong multiplayer. While the Wii Mario Party games have failed to create a multiplayer experience, Return to Dreamland and NSMBW have managed to be among the few games to truly succeed at what Nintendo has seemingly designed the Wii to do: to be a console around which friends and family can gather and have a party.

Kirby!
Return To Dream Land, like most Kirby games, is not amazing but is quite a bit of fun.

For the Wii, cooperative multiplayer makes sense. The Wii was designed to appeal to casual gamers, who tend to be less competitive in their games than a more hardcore audience, and with Nintendo’s apparent vision of the Wii as an all-ages casual gaming device, cooperative multiplayer is the most logical way to go. Nintendo, it seems, has decided that cooperative 2D versions of classic franchises is the way to go in that respect. I was never under the impression that the Zelda: Four Swords games were much of a success for Nintendo, despite being fairly enjoyable multiplayer experiences.

How New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland will affect future Nintendo games is unclear. I would not at all be surprised to see more cooperative 2D Nintendo games like these two games or the Zelda: Four Swords titles. I would certainly prefer to see more creative single-player titles in the vein of the Super Mario Galaxy games, but at this point I like most hardcore gamers have very little faith in Nintendustry practices. Nintendo, after all, has shown they are more interested in mass casual appeal than dedicated hardcore appeal.

I worry that perhaps I am a bit too cynical, but given Nintendo’s recent endeavors, I find it hard to put faith in the company. What are your thoughts, readers? Am I indeed being too cynical? Am I maybe even giving Nintendo too much credit? Have you played New Super Mario Bros. Wii or Kirby’s Return to Dreamland? If so, what are your thoughts, readers? I am curious to see what other hardcore gamers think about these two more casual experiences.

7 comments

  1. NSMBWii is a ‘forgettable game’ except for the multiplayer? Er. What?

    NSMBWii is probably the single best 2D mario title since Mario World, and I have played the multiplayer exactly once. I’ve found that it distracts from the game and makes it a tiresome and frustrating experience rather than an enjoyable one.

    Just what I want to worry about in my Mario platformer! 1) being forced to move slowly enough so that everyone can keep up, and 2) making sure no one dies, and 3) having to worry about whether or not the other players will fuck my shit up. Yeah, that sounds amazing. Way to make the game more memorable. –Because just what I want my 2D Platforming Mario experience to be is a game of Smash Bros. or Mario Party.

    Or, you know, I could just play an amazing and generally gimmick-free 2D Mario game that has all of the joy and the soul of the classic games that I grew up with. How forgettable!

    Horses for courses, simple enough.

  2. I haven’t played NSMBWii’s multiplayer, but I did finish all eight worlds in singleplayer and enjoyed it. I kind of would have like to see a feather or leaf true-flying power-up though. And I’m assuming the multiplayer aspect was what prevented a return of the giant pipe-killing Mario power up.

    The Kirby series is kind of weird. The first one was, I think?, an NES game. And it was extremely easy which is weird as shit for an 8-bit platformer.

    I think my favorite sort of multiplayer would be sort of the original SMB. By that I mean if I’m the first player I can pause the game in World 1-2 and drop my brother down a bottomless pit until I tire of it until he runs out of extra lives. ;)

  3. @EP: The first Kirby game was a GB game, in fact. I was given it as a gift about a week after it came out. It was one of those surprising things where one finds out that an entirely unknown game actually was rather good (at least for the time).

  4. Yeah, the multiplayer in NSBMWii is a good party trick. Alright if you’ve already beat it so that it’s easier to not worry about actually playing the game well. It’s a game that everybody’s familiar with so you can just all jump in. But in terms of enjoying the game to its fullest, I’m with Lusipurr here.

  5. Multiplayer in a Mario platformer sounds pretty bloody superfluous to me…

  6. @EP/Lusi Indeed, the first Kirby game was the original Dream Land for the GB. It didn’t have copy powers but was still a very fun (and short) game.

  7. I never finished a 2D Mario game before NSMBW. I did on the single-player and thought “Thar game is really good!” but then I played and finished Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island, the four of them are much better than the Wii, almost all elements that I liked in the NSMBW I found on these older games, but it was better developed in SMB3 and SMW. So, if you don’t know the older 2D Mario games the NSMBW will be a really good game. But if you played and finished Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World then the NSMBW will just be “Eh, that was good…NEXT!”

    PS: I did not played the NSMB so I did not had the “Oh, this is the DS Mario with multplayer” feeling.

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