New Super Mario Bros. mini-games


New Super Mario Bros. is one of those games that has well-intentions, but received mixed responses. Well, naturally the press gave it plenty of top marks, but a number of people felt it to be a disgrace towards the original games, finding the additions clunky and the levels lacking charm. I, admittedly, slightly feel that way. I enjoyed the game when I went through it, that's for certain, but replaying it again doesn't quite bring the satisfaction of going through Super Mario Bros. 3 or the like. And maybe it's just the nostalgia talking, but the levels in the original games seemed a lot more memorable and distinctive, whereas all I remember are where the goddamned water and auto-scrolling levels are, and the rest just kinda blend together.

Of course, none of this really matters, because I'm just reviewing the mini-games, the often looked-over feature of the game that nobody talks about, even though they're precisely what's kept the game in my DS for months at a time! Look out for pointing out of DS flaws and being a picky moaner!



Snowball Slalom
GOAL: Roll a snowball towards the finish line while avoiding rocks, giant penguins and the walls or else your ass will be stopped flat.
It was only a year after I bought the frigging game that I learnt how to play this. See, I had just been rubbing the screen up and down, but it turns out you're only supposed to rub up. HURRR
Of course, with that knowledge I could actually complete it and finally see what it was like. It's okay, but really not at all amazing, and the fact it tends to leave marks on your screen from frantic rubbings isn't fun at all, thus a one star rating.





Lakitu Launch
GOAL: Fling Spinies into giant floating shells, which are then emptied out at the end, dumping the spiky buggers onto the castle grounds, so one wonders what was achieved by the whole thing.
Fairly enjoyable fun, although the fact that the Spinies curve backwards in the air is off-putting, and doesn't really make a lot of sense. Then again, I think the Transformers are feasible science, so what do I know?




Danger, Bob-Omb! Danger!
GOAL: Use the stylus to move a Bob-Omb out of the way of deadly fireballs and the Bowser statue's flame.
I've always liked the kinds of games that involve avoiding dangers, so I'm quite a fan of this one. However, it doesn't work quite as well on a DS. See, on a PC it's only your cursor appearing on screen, there isn't a lead dangling from it to the mouse. The stylus, however, has the rest of it that isn't touching the screen as well as your hand in the way, which can obscure those tiny fireballs from view, resulting in the occasional cheap death. Regardless, it's pretty rad.


GOAL: Monty Moles and Luigi clones are popping up from holes, and as an unseen force, you must clobber the little buggers to death.
Another decent game that highlights a DS design flaw: The stylus is a temperamental little piece of plastic. It can be hectic jabbing at every corner of the screen, so naturally some angling of it is required for everything; but at an angle, it doesn't register as well, so there are times you clearly hit a Monty Mole but it acts like you didn't. Alas!




way to go DS emulation and your lack of microphone >:(

Balloon Racing
GOAL: Yoshi desires to reach the floating ship above Peach's castle, so to achieve that dream while avoiding the Shy Guys, he REQUIRES YOUR IRON LUNGS.
I'd just like to repeat that the DS microphone is terrible. This mini-game is actually surprisingly decent, but the microphone is terrible. The fact you have to bring it so close to your mouth to register properly, which ends up leaving you unable to see the top screen is pretty horrendous design, to say the least.






Memory Match
GOAL: Disembodied heads of the heroes of Super Mario 64 DS are floating against a black background, and you're meant to find the one listed on the screen above. Get ready for colour scheme related hilarity!
Remember how whenever I whinged about every little thing about Super Mario 64 DS, I complained about Yoshi being a playable character, even though this was the perfect opportunity for Waluigi to be useful and Yoshi to not die in water? Even if they just couldn't let themselves do that, at the very least they could've replaced Yoshi with someone else, like Bowser. This mini-game is one of my favourites, and the sheer thrill I get from it's simplicity is astounding, but for Christ's sake, whenever it comes to finding Luigi in a static crowd, I MENTALLY DIE. Mario and Wario are different colours, and Yoshi has that rounded head, but Luigi and his sharing of palette just throws me off completely. Even if they made Yoshi pink I would've appreciated it; ANYTHING to stop me looking at the screen for half a minute asking myself "WHERE" only to find his hat was blending in with Yoshi's nose. Ugh.
RATING: (on a bad day)


Which Wiggler?
GOAL: Similar to Wanted!, you must find the Wiggler with the same pattern as the one listed above. Instead of colour similarity, we've got pattern similarity and angles to worry about!
The problems listed above aren't exactly horrendous. I mean, they're intentional hazards to your victory. However, the Wigglers walking over each other and preventing you from touching what you believe to be the right one isn't exactly something I presume to be intentional. It doesn't help that it's less forgiving than Wanted!, where the man in question can be buried under five faces and still be retrieved with a touch, but this just can't accept that and just picks out the wrong one. Wonderful. Also, 2D graphics have been around for a long, long time, and is it too hard to make it so you can rotate them without getting ugly and pixelated? Honestly, make the technology already.
RATING: (for reals)


Hide And Boo Seek

GOAL: You must remove the darkness and retrieve the Boos in a ludicrously short amount of time or else Luigi will be bummed.
While semi-enjoyable on good days, the Boos have a bastardly habit of apparently warping to an entirely different location when the lights go out, which would be tolerable if they were larger, but they aren't, so no victory for you.





Puzzle Panel
GOAL: Anywhere you touch flips the 3x3 square of tiles surrounding it, so naturally you must use this God-given power to FIX THOSE PICTURES BACK THE WAY THEY WERE. With great power comes great responsibility.
The best of the puzzle mini-games in my view, this one could keep me entertained for hours if it allowed me to save my progress like the Table mini-games, but sadly not. You're not forced to memorise things you simply cannot or work under harsh time limits; you're just given room to breathe, which is the best thing a puzzle game can give when you want to kick back and relax. It'd be nice to have a tutorial on how the wacky tricks work, because seriously, I can't get past round 15. =(


GOAL: Coindrops keep falling on Wario's head, and just like the guy whose britches ripped to shreds, nothin' seems to fit, those coindrops are fallin' on his head, they keep fallin'.
I utterly loathe memory games. Personally, I would appreciate this one more if you were at least given the opportunity for a few fumbles, three strikes and you're out kinda thing, but Wario has a heart attack the moment one empty block is shattered, which gives me enough reason to not play it terribly much. It doesn't help that the graphics uglied up since the SM64DS version. Well, that's a matter of opinion. I'm just biased towards prerendered sprites. :{


Memory Match
GOAL: Find pairs of cards in a deck where your winnings are greatly reduced if you cock up, and some is taken off if you bum up too much. Great motivation!
See, being punished I can understand, but the fact a new deck is brought in for every money removal time just discourages me from even bothering with this one. If I could make any progress at all, even slight progress, I could possibly tolerate it and get better, but it gives me an "AH AH AH YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS DECK ALREADY DUMB DUMB HERE'S SOME NEW CARDS" sass-back and expects me to have x-ray vision inside a video game. I'd rather be pile drived by a grizzly bear into a cement mixer than pick out pairs.


Picture Poker
GOAL: Trade in cards to get more of the same kind and reel in the big bucks with five clouds. Read 'em and weep.
Now that's what I'm talking about! Instead of being punished harshly for not being a memory mastermind, Picture Poker can be harsh, but by the time your default bets are upped, you should know typical behaviour at the game to be good at it. Bet the max if you're feeling good with your stuff, feel free to take a few bad turns, and so on. It's what learning is all about, and I enjoyed the game so much that I got all the way to 9999 coins, where I expected to reach 10,000, but sadly not. Still, this one mini-game kept occupied on many dreary moments, and this alone has made New Super Mario Bros. the longest lasting DS game so far for me.


GOAL: Pick out nearby pairs on a screen of twenty cards, and keep it up until they're all gone. There's probably a better term for it, but damned if I'll look it up.
I was hoping for this to be my new replacement after Picture Poker grew stale, long before I 'completed' it, but Pair-a-Gone is much less forgiving. Picture Poker allows you to bet a ton (five coins) if you've got a good hand or keep it low if it's not so hot, but this offers no such friendliness. If you can't pair any more, a coin is removed for every card remaining, while you only receive ten if you pair them all. This means you're given a meager pat on the back for winning, but are mugged with a switchblade in the side for losing. Harsh reality.



error on bottom screen =(

Mario's Slides
GOAL: Mario must reach the star while avoiding Piranha Plants at the ends of the pipes, so this calls for making new, more complicated pipe systems instead of, I don't know, throwing fireballs down or something.
I just don't like this one. It wouldn't be so bad if Mario's mug was realistic and only went _down_ pipes, not following any alternate path in his way, resulting in all kinds of ridiculous solutions that involve him skipping to and fro two pipes just to reach the stupid star. Multi-player on this one is horrendous, let me tell you that.



Sort or 'Splode
GOAL: Bob-Ombs of the black and pink variety pour into a room, and for whatever reason, you must segrate them into squares the same colour as their bodies. Take too long or place them wrongly and they'll BAM BITCH you skyhigh, mister.
Yet another example of the stylus' lack of recognition; when Bob-Ombs come pouring in and start crowding the place, it doesn't help that they'll lose 'grip' because of tilting the stylus; since you're expecting to sort them guys out quickly and they have a habit of becoming loose just outside the box, it's not entirely fun and is more irritating than enjoyable. Which is a shame, as with more precise controls I could enjoy it more.



translucent people!

Bounce and Trounce
GOAL: Keep the three Marios airborne so they can squash the floating Shy Guys who pose no threat at all. That airspace is private property!
Considering all you do is tap the Marios and let their awkward sense of direction and gravity do the rest, this one is fairly simple, and therefore I have little to complain about! The most I can nag about is how the Marios like to fly off in wild directions, usually into the side or feet of a Shy Guy, which gets a mite annoying, but not much I can do about, sadly.




Bob-Omb Squad
GOAL: Bob-Ombs are ruining the Toads' flower bed, so armed with a giant slingshot, you oughta clobber those mothertruckers before they ruin the beauty of nature.
Now this is fun. And balanced! Clobbering more Bob-Ombs with one shot earns you more points, whereas hitting a Lakitu destroys all Bob-Ombs on screen with the lowest points for each, which is more for saving you from sticky situations, and naturally, they show up less as things get hectic. It feels ridiculous writing this, but it actually feels like a game. A polished game, not just some idea they had and chucked in like how most of the mini-games feel here.



translucent nets!

Trampoline Time
GOAL: You've got to get those Marios through the doorways or else! I'm out of funny.
Personally, I prefer this over Bounce and Trounce. The Marios don't suddenly lose their bounce thanks to collision with harmless enemies, nor is there the worry of being trapped underneath one; all you've got are the direction-changing walls, narrow doorways and how well you draw nets to worry about. Doesn't make it a fantastic game, though, just slightly less annoying.




There you have it. Admittedly, a lot of the mini-games are carry-overs from Super Mario 64 DS, and thus it'd make sense in reviewing them, but, yeah, see, I kinda hated the game. And you need to get every single rabbit to get all the mini-games, apparently. And the game wouldn't work for me in an emulator, so I just took the easier path.

In addition, there are multi-player only mini-games, and some are semi-decent, but ultimately they're not worth talking about. Okay, I could get a paragraph or two out of a couple, but DS emulation isn't that cool yet to make them work. And the Othello mini-game still sucks. There you have it again!