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.
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.
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.