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Mario and friends are heading back to the side-scrolling world—this time with a fantastical, almost psychedelic twist. Super Mario Bros. Wonder was revealed as part of Nintendo Direct back in June, and it’s set to be the biggest Switch release of the fall.
The initial trailer showed a range of playable characters, new enemies, and mind-bending power ups, and the footage has only gotten wilder since. Mario fans across the world can't wait for this release, which could well be the last Super Mario Bros. installment before the rumored next Nintendo console drops.
What is Super Mario Bros. Wonder?
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the first new side-scrolling Mario game in over a decade. Nintendo released Super Mario Bros. U for Wii U in 2012 and later ported it to the Switch, but has since neglected Mario's 2D platforming roots.
Since then, Nintendo has released a number of 3D Mario games, including the critically acclaimed Super Mario Odyssey for Switch. Odyssey introduced Cappy (Mario’s hat) as a new character and a central mechanic to the game; this ground-breaking mechanic mounted pressure on how Nintendo could continue to evolve the franchise.
Fortunately, it appears Nintendo hasn't shied away from the challenge, with the team coming up with over 2,000 gameplay ideas and gradually refining it into the upcoming game. New elements include "Wonder Flowers", better multiplayer functionality, and… uh, elephant Mario?
When is it being released?
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is scheduled for release on October 20. As with all modern Nintendo releases, Super Mario Bros will only be available on the Nintendo Switch—both as a physical cartridge and as a downloadable game via the Nintendo eShop.
Who can you play as?
Super Mario Bros. Wonder will allow gamers to not only play as Mario and Luigi, but also Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Toad (yellow and blue), Toadette, Yoshi (in four color variants), and Nabbit.
This is part of a turn away from the traditional narrative of Super Mario Bros. games, which typically center around saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Instead, you'll be working as a team to take down the classic video game villain.
What's the story?
Our heroes find themselves in the Flower Kingdom, a brand new, psychedelic world beyond the borders of the Mushroom Kingdom. They were invited by the ruler of the land and guardian of the Wonder Flower, Prince Florian—a small caterpillar-like creature.
But it's not long until Bowser turns up to cause chaos. He touches the Wonder Flower and merges with Prince Florian's castle, spreading his evil influence across the Flower Kingdom. It's now up to Mario and friends to save Flower Kingdom from Bowser’s evil grasp.
What are the power-ups?
There are three confirmed power-ups for Super Mario Bros Wonder: elephant, bubble, and drill, each of which transforms your character while unlocking new abilities.
The elephant power-up turns whoever you're controlling—from Mario to Peach—into the heavyweight creature. As a result, you can swing your trunk to attack enemies, destroy blocks, or parry attacks from Lakitu. You can also store water in your trunk for later use, i.e. to water dead flowers, or smash your way through blocks and easily cross previously deadly gaps.
The bubble power-up lets you blow floating bubbles that can capture and defeat enemies. These bubbles can help you float around walls, and you can even jump and bounce off of them like mini, portable platforms.
While in drill form, you'll get a drill hat that'll protect you from falling enemies, can be taken off to drill downwards, and lets you burrow into the ground or even the ceiling.
Don't want to use your power up yet? Or already have one equipped? Don't worry, you can save one for later in your item balloon. There are also smaller power-ups available as badges, which will be bound to the Y button. These include the floating high jump and the crouching high jump.
What are Wonder Flowers?
Wonder Flowers are a type of magical flower that grows in the Flower Kingdom—the same one that merged Bowser with Prince Florian's castle. Once you touch one of these mysterious flowers, a weird and wacky wonder effect will ensue. This effect is different for each level.
Be ready for surprise when touching the Wonder Flower on a course.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 1, 2023
A stampede of bulrushes might fill the screen, for example, forcing you to ride them to the finish of the level. You might end up free-falling from the sky, or you could balloon up and start floating upward. This fantastical and trippy twist to the Mario franchise brings a surprise element to the already vibrant world of Flower Kingdom.
Is there multiplayer?
Wild power-ups and Wonder Flowers aren't enough for Nintendo: the gaming giant also evolved the multiplayer functionality for this game. Couch co-op is supported, but online multiplayer is where the game really looks to excel.
Online play lets up to four friends tackle a level together, with a limit of two players per console. Up to 12 players can enter a "friend room" while you break off into smaller groups of four to tackle stages.
In the settings, you can turn on a "persistent online mode.” This lets random users enter your game and join you on the course. A fun feature for the speed runners out there is that any stage can be turned into a race—if every player agrees.
Standees are also a new feature, not too dissimilar from Dark Souls' messages system. Players can pop down cardboard cutouts of their characters with messages attached for other players to read. You'll receive heart points if a player positively rates your message.
Nintendo has apparently held no shots with Super Mario Bros. Wonder. It introduces brand new mechanics that sound like a whirlwind of excitement for fans, all while leveling up Mario's online possibilities. If it’s the final core Mario game for Switch, it looks to be a creative send-off for the console.