Chances are, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years, you’ve played at least one game from the Mario franchise. Mario and his friends have been glorified by kids and adults alike in everything from stuffed animals to guitars. It’s really no wonder Nintendo’s success is widespread and ever-growing; they know their demographic and what it wants. Parents also love that the vast majority of Nintendo’s games are free of the profanity, violence and drug use commonly found in other games on the market.
If you’re looking for the perfect Wii game to buy your little goomba, one of these three titles from the ever-popular Mario franchise might be a good match. I’ve chosen them for their learning curve, child-friendly controls and retro feel. They’re also a ton of fun for parents because you can relive your awesome childhood and see how things have changed over the years.
1. Mario Party 9
You probably remember Mario Party from back when the N64 was big — circa ‘99. Well, there’s been a few changes since then. The newest version of Mario Party for the Wii features all the players in a single caravan, taking turns being the vehicle’s Captain. On your turn, you take the wheel, hit the dice block and drive the amount of spaces shown. The biggest difference about this type of gameplay is that every character influences each other’s turns. You may even put your pal right in the line of fire (either on purpose or by accident)!
Coins don’t exist in this game, as Mini Stars and Mini Ztars have replaced them. When the caravan lands on a space with a group of Mini Stars hovering above it, the Captain receives them. If the vehicle lands on a space with Mini Ztars, the amount of stars there is subtracted from the Captain’s total Mini Stars. The player with the most Mini Stars collected at the end of the game is the winner (with a fancy ceremony and all)! Mario Party 10 is also in the works for the Wii U, and is expected sometime this year.
2. Mario Kart
Mario Kart has been huge ever since its first appearance way back in ‘92 on the Super Nintendo console. The basics have mostly stayed the same: You still drive a peppy little go-kart a few laps around a track while racing your friends to the finish line. You now also have the option of riding a motorbike, if you choose. There are numerous revamped takes on old courses with better graphics, too. The maximum amount of players (previously eight) has been raised to twelve. Mini-turbos can be obtained by performing tricks and motorbikes can do wheelies.
Some new items have been added to Mario Kart Wii, assuming the last Mario Kart you played was for N64 or SNES. These items include a thunder cloud, a bob-omb, bullet bill, a blooper (squid-looking guy) and a POW block. While items from the past are still in your arsenal, these additions create a brand new experience for those familiar with the Mario Kart series. Yes, banana peels still exist, despite how most players feel about them. Mario Kart Wii is commonly sold in a bundle with the Wii Wheel for a more authentic racing experience. Mario Kart for the Wii U will also be launched this holiday season (December 2013).
3. New Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Brothers for the Wii is strikingly similar to Super Mario World from 1990–’91. It’s a side-scroller and the controls are the same as the SNES (the d-pad, A and B), with additional buttons for the new maneuvers. Co-op is played sharing the same screen and board as everybody else, which makes for a super-fun, teamwork-oriented environment. One of the coolest new features of this game is encircling yourself in a bubble to avoid harm. If you’re not the most highly skilled player, but you know your buddy can kick the next enemy’s ass, you can “bubble up” (as I like to call it) and they can fight instead. They will have to pop your bubble in order for you to continue playing after that, but this option definitely comes in handy in a group setting.
But keep track of who in your party has bubbled up because if you all do so, the level restarts, which can be extremely frustrating for everybody. There are lots of other cool new features in the New Super Mario Bros. Wii, too, including a bunch of new blocks for head-bumping, unfamiliar enemies, and fresh items and objects to discover. As a bonus, the New Super Mario Bros. is now also offered for the Wii U!
If you’re looking for an exciting game that is also appropriate for the younger generation, Mario is the way to go. The controls are always simple, and even the most inexperienced gamer will enjoy picking up a Wiimote and tackling baddies with ease. Times may have changed but Nintendo knows how to keep up, while simultaneously keeping their games exceptionally nostalgic for us big kids.