In Nintendo’s latest Direct, Super Mario Bros. Wonder emerged as a major revamp of the traditional 2D Mario formula. Beyond its unique level design and gameplay mechanics, Wonder is poised to revolutionize the online gaming experience, aiming for an “entirely positive” online environment. Online gaming often grapples with issues like trolls and toxic players, creating a challenging landscape for many players. However, Mario Wonder seeks to break this mold with its more laid-back approach to online play. Producer Takashi Tezuka explained, “People have their own image of what online play might be. Maybe it’s a little difficult, or maybe it’s a little scary.”
Game director Shiro Mouri expanded on this idea, saying, “The concept behind the online play this time is really this idea of casual connection, being able to experience multiplayer game sessions as if you were playing a single-player game. What I really wanted to do is create an online play experience that’s entirely positive.” This philosophy manifests in several ways within the game. Players can encounter others in the form of signposts, offering helpful power-ups—a concept reminiscent of Death Stranding’s online co-op elements. Online players can also appear as shadows in courses, allowing for friendly races or cooperative exploration of hidden secrets.
Mario Wonder’s co-op modes focus on collaboration rather than competition, whether you’re playing with friends locally or online. Players can assist each other by sharing power-ups or rescuing one another from tricky situations. The game also introduces a novel blend of couch co-op and online co-op, allowing two players to join in-person and two others to play online in a single game. For larger groups, parties of more than four players can form lobbies of up to 12 people, providing a flexible and accommodating multiplayer experience.