New Super Mario Brothers - Nintendo DS

Way back in the early-90s, when Nirvana were changing the music industry and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were enthralling a generation of youngsters, the most recognisable face of video games was a Ron Jeremy-a-like rotund plumber by the name of Mario.

Starring in a string of titles, Mario sprinted from left to right on screen, jumping on Goombas’ heads in an effort to save the Princess from her unscrupulous captors.

Although they’re games that lack the kind of realism and the convoluted control systems that we’re used to, they served up hours of fresh gaming in a sesame seed bun.

But after Mario’s few sojourns into 3D, including the universally adored Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64 (go get yourself a copy and an N64 now!) Nintendo have seen fit to pass unto us yet another piece of that 2D gaming goodness we all know and adore.

Nintendo have threatened to slip back in time and offer us anther slice of ye olde 2D Mario action.

Despite it’s placement on the handheld DS, with its two screens and included stylus, New Super Mario Bros refuses to try and include some gimmicky use of these two major selling points of the handheld. We’re simply offered the same hardcore Mario action we’ve all sampled before, with only a few meagre tweaks.

Now there’s an extra massive mushroom to pick up on your travels that boosts Mario’s size to gargantuan proportions, allowing you free reign to rush through the levels, smashing anything and anyone who happens to be in the way of your size 1000 boots.

Plus you can now add a stockpile of collectible items – though it’s a stockpile of one only – which you can use at will.

So now if you happen to pick up a flower when you're already fired up, you’ll be able to save and make good use of it as soon as you’re forced back into Mario’s initial tiny state.

Verdict

The game’s not quite perfect though. The save system only allows you to save your progress every handful of stages - a slightly odd method on a handheld. You’ll often find yourself ploughing through to the next save, but repeatedly perishing as Mario’s chunky little legs won’t run fast enough.

But even with that barely mentionable black mark, it’s still good old 2D Mario action. The level design is back to the series brilliant best, and you’ll find yourself hopelessly addicted to the hefty number of mini-games available.

There’s even multi-player action if you happen to have a fellow DS owning chum around. The best handheld title of the year so far.

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