Above: Four characters having an adventure. (Not pictured: four players beating each other to a pulp.)
My review of New Super Mario Bros. Wii is up now at thephoenix.com. I did not like it. It has all of the frustration and none of the fun of past Super Mario Bros. games. Like many people, I have a Pavlovian response to the series, especially the sounds of Mario jumping and coins being collected and all that, but in this case I also had less pleasant flashbacks to childhood temper tantrums, usually triggered by a Hammer Brother.
I noticed that the manual tries to play up the unpredictable nature of the multiplayer, sort of jokingly suggesting that you might choose to grief your allies rather than help them. This would be all well and good if such a thing were optional, but instead the experience of playing this game with somebody else is an unbroken series of cheap, obnoxious deaths. For all the good that the bubble system does -- and it does do a lot of good -- you can't account for the many creative ways this game will find to screw you.
I'm getting angry just thinking about it.