When it comes to multiplayer integration, Nintendo can be wildly unpredictable. Unstable online servers and disappointing co-op experiences built for young players can leave its games lacking. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Super Mario Bros. Wonder. In fact, the new 2D adventure might just contain the best Nintendo multiplayer experience on the Switch next to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
At any point while playing Super Mario Bros. Wonder, players can bring their game online with the press of a button in the main menu. Doing so will unlock several multiplayer features at once. For one, there’s traditional online multiplayer. Simply press a button to “play with friends” and you’ll be able to explore both the overworld and levels co-operatively. Like the New Super Mario Bros. series, four players can work together to complete levels (which can be very hectic fun).
The better multiplayer mode turns friends into rivals. When starting a level, players can hit a block at the start of the stage to initiate a race to the finish. It’s a seamlessly integrated competitive mode and one that gives Wonder some excellent replay value beyond its 25 hours or so of item collection. It allows players to flex their platforming muscles in a way that’s only been reserved for speedrunners previously, turning easy-going courses into tense race tracks. It’s the kind of mode the Mario series has always needed.
While the friends-only modes are solid, it’s the broader online feature that really stands out. When taking Wonder online, both the overworlds and levels will become populated with live ghost data from other players currently in-game. It’s a small feature, but it’s one that makes the adventure feel more lively. They’re functional, too; ghosts can drop items or revive other players when active.
My favorite part of that system takes me back to two very different games: Dark Souls and Death Stranding. In those games, players can leave handy notes or markers for other players to find. Wonder does something similar with standees. By crouching and pressing a button, players will drop a cardboard cutout on a level. While they mainly serve as a way to revive fallen players, they have a much more useful application. Standees can be used to signal secret locations to other players.
For instance, Robbird Cave begins with a tricky Flower Coin. It’s visible right from the start of the level but is inaccessible. The trick to nabbing? Players need to equip the Dolphin Kick badge and boost down into a nearby red pipe blowing an upward current. It doesn’t seem like the kind of pipe that you can travel down, making it a well-hidden secret. Once I figured it out, I left a standee of Daisy ducking directly next to it, signaling to anyone else online that you can go down it. It’s small, but no Mario game outside of Super Mario Maker has really had that level of communication. It gives Wonder a sense of community, making the experience feel far less lonely for solo players.
So if you’re playing Super Mario Bros. Wonder right now, make sure to give online play a try, especially if you’re in your post-game collection phase. If nothing else, it’ll give you a great excuse to keep playing — and trust me, you’ll want every excuse you can to do so.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder is available now on Nintendo Switch.
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