With Tetris 99, Nintendo found a format for battle royale games that wasn’t a shooter. Personally, I was crossing my fingers for Tetris Attack/Puzzle League in that style. Will have to wait at least a bit longer.
For the time being, Nintendo takes their template in a wildly different direction. How about a Super Mario battle royale?
Super Mario 35 pits 35 players against one another in a battle for survival in the world of the original Super Mario Bros.. Though the level designs are just as you remember them, there are many added wrinkles to make the multiplayer action work.
For starters, this is not a linear race to the end. Levels loop around and more difficult levels are cycled in as the players are eliminated. As of writing, the meta seems to encourage players to loop backwards to world 1-1 as frequently as possible, as it’s the easiest level to complete.
While you can manipulate your path a bit for a somewhat-easier ride, there isn’t much room to “camp”. Time doesn’t reset between levels and running out means instant death. Standing still will only accelerate the timer. Meanwhile, completing levels, picking up items, and defeating enemies adds time to your clock. The latter action also sends those ghost enemies to haunt others (including Bowser). Just like Tetris 99, you can target a specific group of players with the right stick or snipe a specific player with the left stick. Being aggressive is generally the favourable way to go.
One more wrinkle to the action is how coins work. Instead of granting free lives for each 100 coins, 20 coins gives you a shot at a random power-up. Besides the standard-issue items from the original game, you can also get a POW block that instantly kills every enemy on screen. Having access to these boxes can keep you in the game for longer, though they will deplete your coin stash quickly. Make sure to save them for moments when you really need to get out if a jam!
For the most part, the framework works. It’s a fresh and frantic take on on a classic that does feel like a battle royale. Once you get to the final five and the screen is flooded with enemies and the clock is ticking at warp speed, the adrenaline really gets pumping!
Where I think it stumbles a bit is in its pacing. In a world where so many players know this game like the back of their hands. Many of my games felt like they dragged due to the large contingent of players who could survive at the lower level of difficulty. Using the game’s existing framework, I wish it ramped up the challenge a bit quicker.
Super Mario 35 is a welcome new take on the battle royale. Its multiplayer systems fit really well while giving players that sensation of being in a wider battle while partaking in an individual activity. If they can adjust the balance to be a little tougher on players sooner, I think this would be a smash. Now if we could only convince Nintendo to let go of its ridiculous plan to decommission the game after March 31st, 2021.