If you're a fan of 2D platforming games, you've likely already had your head turned by Super Mario Bros Wonder, Nintendo's new side-scrolling adventure for the iconic Italian plumber and his colourful cast of compatriots.


The trailers for Super Mario Bros Wonder really played up the surprise factor of this game, with Mario's transformation into a bipedal elephant in a hat going quite viral in gaming circles.

And having finished off the game's main story, we're pleased to report that this sense of barmy randomness is pretty consistent throughout.

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Although we were a little disappointed by the reality of playing as elephant versions of Mario et al, to be honest. They can suck up water with their trunks and whack enemies out of the way with it, but beyond putting out little fires, we wouldn't say the elephant versions of these characters are particularly useful or integral to our enjoyment of the game.

That being said, we did enjoy the game a lot thanks to all the other surprises that occurred along the way.

Each level, you see, plays host to 'Wonder Flowers'. And if you find one, to put it simply, something wonderful will happen. You'll see Piranha Plants bursting into song, Yoshi transforming into an amorphous blob of goo and loads of other really joyous little quirks that appear out of nowhere.

Another fun new addition is the concept of badges. You'll unlock a bunch of these throughout the game, but you can only equip one of them at a time, and you have to pick which one you want before you load up a level.

These basically grant your character a special ability, from higher jumps to faster dashing and even Spidey-like swinging at one point. Again, this range of abilities adds a whole new layer to the fun factor, as well as giving you a way to retry levels in a different way if you get stuck.

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Mario transforms into an elephant in this Super Mario Bros Wonder screenshot.
Elephant Mario in Super Mario Bros Wonder. Nintendo

During our time with this game, it wasn't that rare to hear us giggling away to ourselves at the latest Wonder Flower transformation. This is a game that will make you smile, make you laugh and maybe even help you recapture some of the childlike glee you experienced back when you first fell in love with games.

Compare this to our experience with Sonic Superstars, Sega's new 2D platformer, which started off as a fun retro-revisiting experience but descended into fits of rage as the stingy checkpointing and frustrating boss levels broke the limits of our patience into smithereens, and the difference is night and day, with Mario Wonder delivering the exact emotional reaction that it promised on the box.

Wonder, sheer wonder, is what you'll experience here.

Everything from the cute character models to the chirpy music and vibrantly colourful levels contribute to the overall sense of wonderment, making this a great game to play for a happy-go-lucky time on the sofa or even on the go.

The multiplayer options even mean that you can get family and friends involved, complete with a handful of characters that won't take any damage (if you want to bring a young child into your play without any consequences to your save).

Why not five stars, then? Well, there are a couple of minor things that are holding us back on that front. We wouldn't say this is a perfect game, but it's definitely one of the most purely fun times we've had in gaming recently.

The boss battles and side tasks (as well as traditional platforming levels, each world will also offer you races to complete and little combat arenas to pit your wits in) are a little bit basic, for one thing.

Especially when contrasted to some of the really bananas randomness that occurs in the 'normal' levels, the other sides of the game are a little bit bland by comparison. No part of the game is too easy or too challenging, though, with that perfect balance being a really major positive.

We also found the game to be a little bit short for a full price title, with our Switch console estimating that we rolled the end credits at around 10 hours.

That being said, though, there is lots of replayability here, and plenty of levels you can still discover even after you've ended the story — if you tend to rush to the next area as soon as possible after you unlock it, you'll have a decent amount of loose ends to revisit at the end.

Certainly, this is a game that will stick in our memory for a long time. We're already plotting how to get friends and family to play it with us, just so we can experience that wonderment again through their eyes.

To sum up our reaction in one phrase, which Mario yells every time he turns into an elephant, wowee zowee!

Super Mario Bros Wonder is out now on Nintendo Switch.

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