After nearly 10 years since the last original 2D Mario platformer comes the aptly named, New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS. Utilizing 2.5D graphics (3D graphics & models on a two-dimensional plane), NSMB represents a long-awaited return to the classic gameplay that made Mario a household name. It also combines parts from contemporary Mario games, such as moves and from Super Mario 64 and features all new levels and power-ups like the Mega Mushroom. Their are over 500 levels but no levels a have individual names.
Mario must once again save Princess Peach from kidnapping in a variety of unique, branching, platform-filled levels. In addition to the main game, players can also play many of the minigames first featured in Super Mario 64 DS, but with a single cart multiplayer twist.
The gameplay features many of the same conventions of previous Super Mario games. You control Mario, jumping on trademark enemies that have come to make up his Universe, such as the familiar Goomba's, Koopa's and Dry Bones. Along each level, Mario collects coins for points & 1-ups, as well as big coins (used to open up new paths on the world map) and the familiar red coins.
You start out at a world map, which stops at a red spot, representing a level you have not yet beaten. You cannot progress down the path until you beat this level. Each level's objective is to get to the flag/castle at the end. If it's a tower or castle level, the objective is to get to the boss at the end. Along the way, you'll run into standard platformer fare - jumping puzzles, secret passages, enemies, obstacles and more. Mario himself has three modes - Mario, Super Mario, and Super Mario with a power-up. These determine how many hits Mario can take. As the small Mario, he cannot crush blocks, and can be defeated in one hit. Super Mario can take two hits, while Super Mario with a power-up can take three. One hit will reduce him to Super Mario, and one hit to Super Mario will reduce him to Mario.
Players can only save when they beat a tower, a castle, or when spending their big coins on opening new paths. These new paths usually lead to mushroom houses, where characters like Toadsworth will give you a power-up. Power-ups are items that change Mario and give him a special ability. If you already have a power-up and receive one, it will go into a storage/reserve spot on the bottom screen of the Nintendo DS. This item can be summoned at any time by touching it.
Despite featuring traditional side scrolling gameplay, New Super Mario Bros brings in some new moves familiar to those who have played the 3D Mario platformers, such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.
- Ground Pound - Sometimes called by fans as a butt stomp, is a move where Mario pounds the ground with his backside from mid-air. It brings him straight down from a jump, which will break blocks below him, as well as enemies like Goomba's.
- Double Jump - This double jump is different from other double jumps found in 2D platformers. In order to pull it off, players must have a running start. While running, they do one jump, land it, then immediately jump again, which will be higher than the last. It can repeated one more time for a triple jump.
- Wall Kick - Like Mega Man, Mario will now slide along a flat wall when jumping into it. Pressing jump while sliding will make him kick off. If there is another wall opposite him, forming a shaft, he can continuously wall kick to climb upwards.
Players will find different power-ups, usually in question boxes, scattered throughout the level. Some power-ups can be gained by visiting mushroom houses on the world map, which will give you a power-up for storage/reserve. New Super Mario Bros features both new and old powerups.
- Super Mushroom - Turns Mario in Super Mario. He gets taller, and is capable of taking two hits instead of one. He is also able to break blocks as Super Mario.
- Fire Flower - A classic power making it's return, this flower will change Mario's color scheme. Oh, and it lets him shoot bouncing fireballs, too. These make killing enemies, especially ones that cannot be jumped on, much easier.
- Super Star - Another iconic power-up. This one turns Mario or Luigi into a multi-colored, glowing, invincible plumber. Nothing can hurt him, and every enemy is automatically defeated just by touching him. Just for style, their jumps become somersaults.
- Mega Mushroom - A giant, honking mushroom. When Mario/Luigi gets it, he grows to the size of 3/4th the screen. Here, he is unstoppable. Pipes, blocks, enemies, walls, everything is crushed as he walks through it. This transformation lasts only a limited amount of time. A "damage meter" appears at the top. The more damage Mario does, the more 1-Ups he will receive at the end of his rampage.
- Mini Mushroom - The opposite of the Mega Mushroom, this tiny blue mushroom shrinks Mario & Luigi to mere pixels in size. His jumps become floatier, and he is capable of running on water. Mostly, this mode allows Mario to squeeze into tiny passages, where things may be hidden.
- Blue Shell - A blue koopa shell that Mario wears. With this on, he can turn into a shell by pressing down (Shielding him), as well as turning his dash into a sliding shell. In this dashing mode, players can jump, but cannot control their movement/direction.
Mario & Peach are walking on a three-dimensonal plane one day. But then they see a thundercloud shoot lightning at the Mushroom Kingdom castle. Mario goes to investigate, while Princess Peach is, shockingly, kidnapped by Bowser Jr. Bowser Jr. runs off and Mario must traverse platform levels to get to him, as he flees from world to world.
The game features different forms of multiplayer, though none of the hot seat multiplayer seen in previous Mario games. All multiplayer is conducted by way of wireless connectivity, and only requires a single game card.
This mode is restricted to 2 players. One plays Mario, the other plays Luigi. They run around one of five wrapping, side-scrolling levels. The objective is to gain an amount of stars, which appear randomly. The bottom screen displays a "map" that shows where the two players are, and where the star is. This number depends on what you set it to before the game. Players can jump on each other, or hit each other with power-ups to knock the stars out of each other. They can also collect coins. For every 8 coins gathered, a power-up will appear near that player.
The game also features many original minigames from Super Mario 64 DS. They can be played alone, or with up to 4 players. These vary from card games like a primitive form of poker, to action games, like shooting snowballs at each other. The games from Super Mario 64 DS are also reworked to be more competitive and feature multiple players.
- New Super Mario Bros. is the first new classic side-scrolling Mario game since the SNES and Super Mario World.
- Luigi can be played in the single player story by holding L + R when selecting a save file.
- Players can, and usually do, beat the game despite skipping two of the six worlds.