Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review | Absolutely Wonderful

Super Mario Bros. Wonder jumps onto new heights as it refines a classic formula to become one of the best games of 2023.

Another year, another Mario game. The everlasting appeal of this franchise can no longer be contested. While it’s not the golden standard for gameplay innovation, the Mario games have always been great examples of formula refinement. The franchise has dipped its toes in nearly every genre in the industry. This time around, they’re going back to what placed Nintendo on the top in the first place. Just when you thought there was not much else you could do with a modern 2D Mario game, Super Mario Bros. Wonder came along and it provided exactly what its name implies.

You know a Mario game is good when your body moves along with what you see on the screen. I was tilting the Nintendo Switch to the side, hoping a jump would be made, swiftly moving away as if enemies were about to hit me IRL, and even instinctively ducking whenever I attempted to dodge an incoming obstacle. Super Mario Bros. Wonder has gotten me in a trance that no platformer has done in a while. Considering this is the first in a really long time that the franchise comes back to a traditional 2D format, it’s impressive just how good it all is.

A leap of great

When I first heard that there would be a new Mario game coming out, I didn’t really put much thought into it. While I do consider myself one of the people who grew up with the franchise, I wasn’t exactly a massive fan. It was a fun pick-me-up that I would play for a couple of hours and that’s that. Most of my modern-day experiences with the IP were through Mario Kart and Smash Bros. Super Mario Bros. Wonder comes along and changes whatever preconceived notion and expectation I had. This game is exactly what happens when you give one of the most creative development teams the proper tools and trust to create something they believe in. Wonder feels both fresh and familiar in all the right ways. There’s a reason why Nintendo is, for lack of a better term, Nintendo and this is a game that perfectly shows why.

One of Wonder’s most outstanding features is its level design. You are now tasked with saving the Flower Kingdom from Bowser’s usual reign of terror. New lands mean a brand-new playground for players to discover and be empowered with. It’s evident that the developers put tremendous effort into crafting each stage, resulting in an array of creative and unique challenges. There are a number of semi-hidden collectibles such as Wonder Seeds and Purple Coins scattered throughout the stages. Finding these was an absolute blast as you would often be required to slightly go off the beaten path, further stretching the possibilities of the level. Very few levels can be considered just “okay,” with most offering something exceptional that makes them stand out. The vivid colors and striking visuals enhance the overall experience, providing a feast for the eyes.

The gameplay formula feels fresh yet familiar, taking the best elements from previous 2D Mario games and refining them to near perfection. It’s a joy to see the numerous new animations that infuse the game with so much charm and personality. Nintendo has given so much character to every single moment, little or small. Elephant Mario trying to squeeze himself into a pipe, an enemy running away in fear as you charge towards them, or a hat being left behind only to be swiftly caught mid-air just before you can fully transport through a pipe. Wonder is a beautiful game to see it all in motion.

Furthermore, the controls are snappy and responsive, making Super Mario Bros. Wonder the best-controlling Mario game to date. Very rarely did I find myself blaming the game for a loss. I knew that I failed a particular battle, platforming, or navigation because of my own doing, not because Mario was too heavy, slippery, unresponsive, etc. It feels great to control which in turn, elevates the gameplay experience by so much more.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The power-ups, for instance, could have used a bit more imagination and creativity to match the high standards set by the rest of the game. Don’t get me wrong, turning into a platforming elephant is about as charming as it gets but I do wish that the powers reflected more the creativity and possibilities the Flower Kingdom presented. I also would’ve loved to have more boss encounters. There were so few and far between each other that they just felt more like an annoying distraction from the excellent platforming rather than a significant event I’d prepared for.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder Review Final Verdict – 9/10

I haven’t used my Nintendo Switch this much this year since The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Super Mario Bros. Wonder does exactly what I thought was near impossible at this point: get me hooked on a classic 2D platformer again. I think about this game whenever I’m not playing it. Maybe I can complete one more challenge, find all the Wonder Seeds, or use a different character and run it all over again. It’s the perfect game to just end a heavy day on such a high note.

Mario games have always been cheerful and light but something about Wonder really clicked for me. 2023 has been such a good year for massive AAA games. Wonder jumps along and lets everyone know why the franchise has survived this long. This is truly one of the best games I’ve played this year. If you have a Nintendo Switch, play this. I promise you that you’ll start telling yourself “one more level” until you finish it all in a few hours and would want to do it again.


Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a delightful platformer that continues to deliver the excellence we've come to expect from the franchise. With its creative level design, vivid aesthetics, and refined gameplay, it's a must-play for every Nintendo Switch player.