Let Me Kill My Friends, Super Mario Bros. Wonder

I was a prick when I was a kid. My brother and I shared consoles so we usually played split-screen games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Rainbow Six: Vegas, and of course, Super Mario Bros. I acted as the stereotypical older sibling who liked to throw his younger ones off ledges and into the abyss, darting ahead so they couldn’t respawn. I’m not sorry – I would do it again in a heartbeat. Only, I can’t.


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Super Mario Bros. Wonder doesn’t have collision between players, so picking up player two and showing them what’s down that big gaping hole between platforms isn’t possible anymore. You can’t even hold them above your head so they can’t play. Again, I know it’s rude, but where’s the fun if you can’t boot someone off a difficult-to-reach ledge after they spend five minutes trying to climb up to it?

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I tried to do this with my partner when we sat down to play the first few zones, only to find that we clipped through each other like phantoms. Maybe it’s for the best, I hardly want to drive a wedge in our relationship over Mario. But part of me still wants to grab them and run into a wall of fire to get us both killed. I’m not just speaking from a place of being the arsehole – every now and then my dad would take my brother’s controller and teach me a lesson by chucking me into danger, but that was a laugh too.

super mario wonder prince florian with wonder flower

I’ve seen debate about this on Twitter, that Mario games with collision are a litmus test for who is and isn’t a scumbag. I can’t really defend myself. I know playing with someone like that can get incredibly annoying, so it’s all about finding the balance between knowing when to stop for a while and doing it all over again. But throwing us all under the scumbag umbrella feels a bit extreme – co-op games are as much about being a team as they are about playful sabotage.

Friendly fire is another great example of this. In the heat of the moment, a bullet to the back of your head can turn a sweaty and tense mission into a barrel of laughs. Or plummeting a helicopter into the side of a mountain because your friend won’t stop singing Cotton Eye Joe. You know who you are. As it stands, the only way to throw a spanner in the works is to find a shell and launch it at your friend, but where’s the fun in that?

I was hoping there’d be a setting to toggle it, so those who enjoy it can have some control. There isn’t. You’re stuck with this little-sibling-friendly version, the Luigi of collision in Mario games. And think of all that we’ve lost because of it – no elephants lugging each other around, no jump boosting, and no helping your pals get through zones they’re struggling to keep up in. There were nice applications too. I just gravitate towards being a dick.

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