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SUPERLATIVE MARIO! Gamers of a certain age will love the retro feel of the plumber's best 2D effort yet.

NEW SUPER MARIO BROS ***** Wii

TWO years after his gravity-defying antics in Super Mario Galaxy, the famous plumber has gone back to his roots in this wonderful old school platform adventure.

Gone are the mind-bending 3D jaunts across spherical planetoids, replaced instead with glorious 2D visuals which bring back memories of the Super Nintendo launch title Super Mario World.

While there are echoes of DS game Super Mario Bros here, this latest outing in the Mushroom Kingdom is a far better game - perhaps Mario's best 2D offering to date.

Of course, nostalgia plays its part for gamers of a certain age but, even for the uninitiated, New Super Mario Bros is instantly accessible and a blast to play.

Nintendo have touted the new multiplayer mode so much since the game was unveiled at this year's E3 conference, you would be forgiven in believing the title was solely a multiplayer experience. But, no, Mario's latest trek offers instant gratification, while playing with up to three friends but it is merely a distraction from the meaty single-player campaign.

Four players running and jumping through the game's array of appealing worlds leads to a riot of activity and it's all wonderfully chaotic.You'll whoop as you force one of your friends from a precarious ledge and win the dash to claim an elusive power up star.

However, while multiplayer frolics are fun for quick 30 minute bursts, it pales beside the draw of the main game.

Taking all the best segments from previous titles, New Super Mario Bros fuses them to create the perfect platform game.

From the familiar tinkle of a collected coin to the sugary-sweet soundtrack, all the staples of previous Mario games are here - but never have all the elements come together so perfectly in a 2D Mario title.

With typical Nintendo panache, the levels are beautifully crafted - full of devious drops, perilous platforms and hidden secrets. It's a joy to play.What's more, there is no need of the nunchuk attachment, with the player simply asked to control Mario with the Wiimote held horizontally.

Motion control is not out, however, with the player tilting the controller to manoeuvre platforms and generate a light source by balancing the controller.

For younger players who may find themselves stuck at tricky sections, Nintendo have included a Super Guide function, which steps in if you fail eight times in a row. Here, Luigi enters the fray, showing the player a safe path through the remaining level. It's not the game-breaker many predicted but a welcome aid to stop frustration spoiling the fun.

For platform fans starved of a good old-fashioned romp, there's little to rival New Super Mario Bros. For multiplayer laughs, the game more than holds its own, but the finely tuned single-player mode steals the show.

It's one of the best games this year and the best 2D Mario game to date. Compliments don't get much higher.

CAPTION(S):

IN THE BALANCE: New Super Mario Bros involves some motion control, with delicate touch required
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 4, 2009
Words:503
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