Super Mario Bros. Wonder overall promises to be a major revamp of the traditional 2D Mario formula, as we saw in Nintendo’s latest Direct. Beyond its unique take on level design and new game mechanics, Wonder is also promising to change the way we play online, with an online experience that aims to be “entirely positive.”
Online gaming doesn’t exactly have the best reputation, with trolls, griefers, and toxic players often too easily encountered. Mario Wonder aims to buck this trend with its more casual take on online play. “People have their own image of what online play might be. Maybe it’s a little difficult, or maybe it’s a little scary,” Mario Wonder producer Takashi Tezuka told CNET.
“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,” added game director Shiro Mouri. “What I really wanted to do is create an online play experience that’s entirely positive.”
This plays out in the game a few different ways. You can encounter another player’s presence in Mario Wonder in the form of signposts that can provide you with a helpful power-up, in a way that’s comparable to Death Stranding’s online co-op elements. Online players can also show up as shadows in courses–whether you choose to race them to the end, or simply follow them to unearth secrets you may have missed.
In general, the game’s co-op modes seem designed to be less competitive and cutthroat than previous 2D Mario titles, whether you’re playing with friends in person or online. There’s more of a focus on helping other players, including sharing power-ups or rescuing others from precarious situations.
In another interesting re-think of online play, you can also mix couch co-op with online co-op, with two players in person and two players online in a single game. Or, if you have more than four players in a party, you can form larger group lobbies of up to 12 people to meet up in between playing through courses in smaller groups.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder releases for the Nintendo Switch on October 20.