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New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Mario can do almost anything. From reffing boxing matches to racing go-karts, he's truly a Renaissance man. But there's one thing that he and his lesser-heralded bro Luigi don't do anymore, and that's run from the screen's left side to its right in a 2-D adventure on a home console. Well, that was then because Nintendo has graced us with New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
Using the standard Mario game storyline, the Mushroom Kingdom is abuzz celebrating Princess Peach's birthday. A giant birthday cake is wheeled in, and out of it pops the Koopa Kids. Princess Peach then, once again, does what she does best and gets kidnapped. So it's up to Mario, Luigi — and two toads — to save her ... again.
Gameplay is most reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3, with overhead maps, allowing you to plot your course of level play. New power-ups, such as helicopter penguin suits, add more to your repertoire, alongside such mainstays as the fire flower and the invincibility star. Super Mario games have always been the standard for excellent character control, and this entry is no different, though Nintendo's integration of the Wiimote sometimes feels superfluous, as if to remind you that you're playing on a Wii.
Working New Super Mario Bros. Wii will bring back memories of older Mario games; it uses everything that worked from those while getting a next-gen console spit-shine. You'll feel the nostalgia instantly, which could be its biggest problem — once the nostalgic charm wears off, you'll realize you've done most of this before.
Multiplayer is a blast (where up to four players inhabit one screen at once), but the solo experience can soon feel monotonous.
Silly Wii interactions aside, this game doesn't revolutionize anything, and some gamers have grown past the 2-D platformer. It's hard to knock it though, because it's exactly what many have clamored for, a throwback to older-school gaming. —Bryant Franks
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
PSP Nintendo DS
Available for the DS for the past six months, this fun outing from the hit video game series finally makes it to the PSP. And the results are every bit as time-sucking. This time around, you're a member of the Chinese mob tracking down your dad's killer and a missing sword. Best of all, there's plenty of totally awesome carnage along the way. —Michael Gallucci