The Battle of White Gloves: Super Mario Bros. Wonder Vs. Sonic Superstars

Growing up in the 90’s, I was in an exclusive relationship with Sega. The courting was short, as my father brought home the Sega Genesis and it was unexpected but welcomed love. At the time, Nintendo never entered my mind. I spent my evening with Sonic, Hook, and many other adventures. The years however tired my relationship with Sega, and I found myself hoping for the Corporation that I once knew to return to loving form. One can only wait so long though, as I began to look elsewhere, as I began to look at Nintendo.

On October 17th, I invited myself to fall again, I purchased Sonic Superstars and the possibility of renewed interest felt real! I have wanted so badly to fall in love with Sonic again, and this was my chance. Nothing is ever so simple though, and two days later Super Mario Bros. Wonder showed up at my door looking like a delicious dish.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

There is a lot of love in Wonder, from the music that emits from the Joy-Con as you run across music notes to the color-pallet that feels even bolder than what Nintendo has painted with before. There are both staples to the franchise and a variety of new features that are a reminder of what careful innovation looks like.

One new feature of Wonder introduces a brand new collectible, called Wonder Seeds. Collecting these delightful new-things was my favorite part of the entire experience, as finding a Wonder Seed meant you would be completely changing the level as you nullified the effects of a Wonder Flower and its mechanics that effect the world or characters.

Throughout the experience, I changed. At times I was a dapper goomba, sometimes a balloon, and much more. Oh, did I mention how fun it was to be an elephant? It looked weird, but in a good way and felt awesome. Wonder takes a step above the flying squirrel suit from New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, having the elephant version of each beloved character be exercise in visual art. Lovingly, everywhere your trunk sprays water grows flowers. Oh Nintendo, my heart!

The level designs are a fresh but familiar mix, with some standouts. Top Layer Dessert was like being in a fun house where your size and perspective would change all the time. Awesome idea for the world! It was exhilarating to be cast into the sky above, trying to collecting as many coins as I could as I soared.

The boss fights feel rewarding but not overstated, as you find yourself in snappy engagements with Bowser Jr. for all but one boss battle. Each fight with Jr. takes place comfortably at the end of each world, as a comfortable close. With boss fights kept to a manageable minimum, I never felt overburdened by their presence. This will be important later as we talk about Sonic Superstars.

If I can be critical of anything Wonder does, it is that it banks a lot on replayability for its limited length. Levels are too short and the overall completion time for the game felt equally so. While accessibility is important, I was left feeling a bit short changed compared to other games I have played this year.

There is no denying the amount of charm, of Wonder, that Nintendo has made. I award 5 white gloved hands out of five.

Sonic Superstars

The reason I play video games is to get that feeling I get when I visit national parks or theme parks or look at public art in new cities. I want to say, “Wow! This is so cool! This world is so beautiful!” Like maybe some of my depression and anxiety have been worth it a little so I can see how neat life is. Video games are like art you take home and interact with. They can give me the same sense of wonder. 

I really should bait you and keep you on the hook, leaving you wondering how I feel about this game. But I won’t. Sonic didn’t give me Mario’s wonder (pun intended). The graphics, on the Switch, at least, looked like they were from ten years prior, if not fifteen. The worlds were quite inventive and colorful, but I couldn’t take myself out of desiring better than early-2k-Crash-Bandicoot-style-3D images.  

I’ll confess that bosses are my least favorite parts of games. I want to go on the adventure and not be distracted by some bullet hell that awaits at the end of the zone. And the bosses in Sonic were challenging and frequent—Way. Too Frequent. The zones were 1-2 acts, and there was a boss at the end of every zone, even if it only had 1 act! The bosses were long af, which meant bosses took up half, if not more than half, of the game! Insanity!  

Cyberstation is the coolest zone. I understand if you don’t have the patience to get to this one, but it really is neat. Akin to what Mario does in Wonder when Mario reaches the Wonderseed, Sonic actually becomes different creatures with different abilities! And the rings and creatures in the world look slightly 8bit, giving an edginess to even circular shapes. I wish all the zones were this refreshing. 

I also thought the Egg Fortress was innovative in that Act 1 is traversing the level forward and Act 2 is traversing it backward, and with all the VHS rewind marks all over the screen. Very creative! 

I get the feeling that Sega made a lot of these levels on somewhat of a loop. It’s not super generative when the level loops, but also it makes it confusing to make your way through the act. Sometimes you really do end up getting lost and accidentally going backwards, if you can imagine that being a thing on a left-to-right side scroller.  

Play as Tails. Tails can hover. Always play as Tails.  

I give this game two and a half gloves out of five.

Sega, get your act together. Play Mario Wonder and take notes. You were my first love, and I still want to love you. 

1 thought on “The Battle of White Gloves: Super Mario Bros. Wonder Vs. Sonic Superstars”

  1. I don’t think classic style Sonic works as well anymore. The whole platforming genre isn’t what it once was.

    Sega trying new things is probably a good idea. Sega just struggles to improve and provide good direction for Sonic.


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