Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review - A Badge Of Honor
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Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review - A Badge Of Honor

Whether Nintendo intended it or not, conventional wisdom tends to sort modern Mario games into something of a mental tier list. The 3D Mario games like Galaxy and Odyssey are the flagship mascot platformers, and 2D Mario games like the New Super Mario Bros. series are somewhat lesser retro throwbacks. Still good, dependable, but less prestigious. It's after years of 2D games languishing in understudy status that Super Mario Bros. Wonder takes center stage--and it delivers such a knockout performance that it makes the argument, implicit or otherwise, that 2D Mario games can be just as vital to the medium as their 3D siblings.

In essence, the Wonder effects that lend Mario Wonder its title can be likened to the planetoids of Super Mario Galaxy--a simple, easily understood hook that gave stage designers carte blanche to be as inventive and strange as they'd like, constantly reinventing the mechanics and subverting expectations. The result once again is a game filled to the brim with delightful little surprises, like unwrapping a series of gifts made just for you, the discerning fan of Mario platforming.

Those Wonder effects extend from the story, which is loose and unobtrusive. Mario and his pals are visiting Prince Florian of the neighboring Flower Kingdom, who's keen to show off his kingdom's greatest treasure, the Wonder Flower. But Bowser crashes the diplomatic event, naturally, and steals the Wonder Flower, transforming himself into a living, floating castle that towers over the kingdom and corrupts everything inside. Premise secured, Mario and company rush to the rescue. The exact scientific effects of Wonder Flowers are never properly explained, but we get the gist well enough: It changes reality in huge, often unexpected ways.

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