Nintendo Live 2023: Super Mario Bros. Wonder Is Retro Fun Reimagined

This weekend, I covered PAX West 2023. While in attendance, I was fortunate to secure passes to Nintendo Live 2023, which was being held at the Seattle Convention Center alongside PAX. Nintendo did a fabulous job creating exhibits and delighting fans at every turn. (Getting to listen to a live orchestra performance of music from The Legend of Zelda was a special treat!)

From a giant Animal Crossing: New Horizons explorable village to the Master Sword itself, Nintendo Live had something for everyone. For each game demo played by fans, Nintendo gave special collectible pins. We even received an actual metal Super Mario Bros. coin!

Getting to play Super Mario Bros. Wonder was the absolute highlight of the exhibition though. Nintendo had a massive area set aside for the upcoming game, with 200 players playing the demo at any given time. I anticipated an enormous wait, but actually got to play within minutes of getting in line.

Fun for Everyone

I brought my family to the event with me, so we played the demo as a team of three. Having played New Super Mario Bros. Wii extensively with my kids, I was more than apprehensive about trying the new game with family and not solo. I still remember the frustrations of playing cooperatively and battling for power-ups, accidentally (or purposely!) killing each other, and navigating the sharing of a screen.

I’m happy to report that none of those issues are present in Super Mario Bros. Wonder. In fact, Nintendo has clearly streamlined the game to be a community experience. The gameplay and level design allowed for seemless collaboration to reach the finish, never once feeling limited by my local co-op teammates. And neither did my 11-year-old playing next to me. The game offered a truly joyful experience for everyone playing.

Not Your Grandpa’s Mario

When Super Mario Bros. Wonder was in development, the team was told they had no limits to their creativity, that anything was on the table for this game. What they created is as fun as any Mario game I’ve played.

The new power-ups are awesome. Transforming into an elephant makes you feel powerful as you swing your trunk, crushing blocks and wiping out enemies. The Wonder Flowers add a level of mystery and anticipation that make no two levels feel the same. From changing the levels to verticle from horizontal or suddenly allowing Warp Pipes to be pushed sideways, the Wonder Effects that trigger when a Wonder Flower is reached break all the rules of traditional Mario while somehow feeling faithful to the soul of the franchise.

As someone who’s played Super Mario Bros. since the 80s, I have a hard time looking past the nostalgia I feel for Super Mario 3 and Super Mario World. After playing the demo of Super Mario Bros. Wonder at Nintendo Live 2023, I might have to let go of nostalgia; I have a feeling there’s going to be a new fan-favorite when it comes to 2D Mario games.

Tell us what you think! Are you excited to play Super Mario Bros. Wonder? Did you attend Nintendo Live 2023? Share your reactions in the comments below or join the conversation on Boss Rush Network’s Discord and Facebook.

Sources: Nintendo of America, Nintendo Live 2023

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