Releasing on October 20, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the latest entry in one of the most recognizable gaming franchises in history. And from the early reviews, it seems like it doesn’t disappoint—in fact, it’s shaping up to be perhaps one of the most memorable Mario experiences yet.
We’ve gathered up a variety of perspectives on Mario’s latest outing and found there to be universal praise for the new Switch exclusive. Overall opinions highlight Wonder’s mastery of the classic 2D platformer form, and point out it’s not just a rehash of old ideas: Reviewers are finding the world-warping Wonder effects to offer excellent replayability and unexpected levels of surprise challenges.
Universally the new worlds are described as lively, dynamic, and full of secrets. The Wonder mechanics and Badge system (which lets you equip new abilities) keep the game alive. And cooperative play means that this experience can be easily shared with friends.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder currently sits at a score of 93 on Metacritic, falling just under fellow Switch exclusive The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and soaring over other highly anticipated 2023 releases.
Pre-order Super Mario Bros. Wonder: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop
GamesRadar spoke positively about the new power-ups and the game’s wonder-inspiring visuals, but lamented a lack of unique per-character powers.
Playing Super Mario Bros. Wonder is like your first magical visit to Disneyland. You have no idea what’s beyond that first bend on the roller coaster track or behind the next closed door, but there may well be sudden singing, odd little creatures, and the occasional man in an oversized suit. The addition of Wonder Flowers truly mimics this surprise factor found all throughout Wonder. In each level, there’s at least one hidden Wonder Flower to discover, which always involves a little detective work or some perfect timing.
NPR: ‘a surreal masterpiece’
NPR praised the liveliness of Wonder’s presentation, cooperative play, and change of scenery that the Flower Kingdom offers.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder, ultimately, feels like a flex — proof that Nintendo can still innovate with some of gaming’s oldest verbs: run and jump. It’s a pristine extravaganza designed to appeal to nostalgic players and newcomers who may have only encountered the franchise through this year’s blockbuster movie. Every frame bursts with charming detail.
Inverse described the level design as a “beautiful thing to behold,” packed with wonderful visuals and interesting new power-ups.
Wonder’s success is built upon the numerous iterations of past 2D Mario titles. The core idea of tight platforming across stages has been nailed down for so long that each new entry is able to iterate in more granular ways, even if it doesn’t innovate on a larger scale. Wonder doesn’t reinvent the wheel that is the Mario game, but it gives it a heck of a tune-up.
CNN: ‘an unexpected return to form’
CNN said that the game presents a wonderful sense of charm, with clever level design and great multiplayer options.
Not only is it one of the best games on Nintendo Switch, but it deserves a place in the pantheon of lauded Mario games alongside the likes of Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3.
The Verge: ‘infused with strange yet incredibly fun concepts’
The Verge said that Wonder delivers a remixed classic 2D Mario action with hidden stages, varying challenges, and the surprising, game-changing effects of the Wonder Flowers.
Even as someone who has played Super Mario since the very beginning, I found myself constantly surprised at the new twists that Wonder threw at me. And this lasts through the entire experience: the final sequence might be my favorite Mario level ever.
Wccftech praised the game’s visuals, sense of character, and level design, but did note that Mario’s new voice actor “lacks some of [Charles] Martinet’s infectious enthusiasm.”
The first thing that will likely strike you when you hop into Super Mario Bros. Wonder is how gosh darn-pretty the whole thing looks. While the New Super Mario Bros. games sometimes had the cookie-cutter feel of something assembled in an editor, almost every course in Super Mario Wonder feels like a bespoke piece of art offering up lush backgrounds packed with fun details. From mountains made of rocky pipes to clouds mounded up like sundaes, cool snowy peaks lit up by glowing lights, and beyond, Mario’s world has rarely looked this good.
Polygon: ‘Play Mario for the first time a second time’
Polygon said that Wonder offers an excellent classic Mario experience that’s capable of reinventing itself through its mind-bending Wonder mechanics.
The brilliance of Super Mario Bros. Wonder is that the choice is one of “and,” not of “or.” The traditional and the topsy-turvy coexist. Across six worlds, the creators of Wonder offer a menu of familiar stages that, should you like, can be prepared with extra spice — or paired with the family-friendly equivalent of ayahuasca. That particular drug comparison isn’t flippant: At one point Toad licks the ol’ Wonder Seed and suddenly he’s riding a dragon.
As critics, IGN found Super Mario Wonder fun to play.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder establishes a new standard for what 2D Mario platformers should look like. It is colorful, it is alive, and it is joyful. It also managed to surprise and delight me in continually more creative ways thanks to its unpredictable Wonder Effects, which transform levels into something completely different for a brief while.
Eurogamer echoed the game’s seemingly wonderful sense of character and visual delight, but particularly loved ‘sheer density of secrets.’
I am still trying to work out what this means, what impact the Wonder Flowers have on the game itself. Is this a Mario game that offers secrets that are so delightful, but which are so memorable and funny that they stand in for replayability? Is it a game that you enjoy once, twice, and then shelve? I suspect not, because of the sheer density of secrets, and the sheer number of reasons to replay a level – to look for exits, to hunt for surprise moments, to revel in a one-shot character or silly bit of business that is dropped in and then never repeated.
GameSpot praised the visual presentation, surprising twists and turns, and online multiplayer, but critiqued occasional repetition around some Wonder effects.
One moment, you’ll be jumping and spinning your way through a traditional Super Mario stage, and the next you may be transformed into a Goomba and hiding from carnivorous creatures that eat Goombas, or seeing yourself only in silhouette, or bounding along to a rhythmic dance. Some of these are genuinely challenging, while others that are played as a cute joke that provide a quick breather. You never quite know what’s coming next.
VideoGamesChronicle found Wonder’s new additions to the classic Mario formula lifted it above a throwback to the classic games.
Key to the game’s gleeful inventiveness are the level-flipping Wonder effects which, once you’ve located the hidden Wonder Seed on each stage, change the scenario drastically. They transform players into floating balloons, summon a stampede of rampaging bulls, flip gameplay to a top-down adventure, and numerous other unexpected effects that always surprise and rarely leave you without a beaming grin on your face.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is available on Nintendo Switch on October 20, 2023.
Pre-order Super Mario Bros. Wonder: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop