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Mario’s had plenty of adventures over the decades — including last year’s trek through the stars. But aside from a few offshoots, such as “Mario Kart” and “Mario Party,” he’s usually tackled his biggest adventures solo. Not this time.

Nintendo’s “New Super Mario Bros. Wii” lets up to four players join the Italian plumber in his side-scrolling adventures. You can play as Mario, Luigi or two Toads in either a cooperative or competitive action.

The action starts when Princess Peach is kidnapped — again — and the foursome begins a journey through various fantastic lands in search of the missing royal.

The basics will be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a Mario game — which means virtually every gamer on Earth. You sprint, jump, stomp and swim your way through a wide variety of settings. You can also don a propeller suit to soar or a penguin suit to slide. Of course there are plenty of coins to collect, pipes to dive into and enemies to pound, or avoid.

Playing with friends opens new options for game play. For example, you can gain extra height on your jumps by bouncing off the heads of your teammates or unleash a simultaneous ground pound against your foes. And if one member of the team “dies,” he reappears inside a bubble. Popping this bubble releases him and allows him to continue — minus a life. As long as one of the teammates remains alive, the game continues.

The controls are very easy to learn and work very smoothly. Most actions are activated by pressing buttons on the Wii remote. Gestures with the motion-sensitive remote include such activities as tilting seesaws or activating the propeller suit.

The graphics are pretty standard for Wii-based Mario games: simple, cartoony characters and brightly colored settings.

In addition to the campaign, you can replay certain levels in a competitive mode or engage in a battle over coins.

Since my sons were on a “video-game hiatus” when the game arrived, I had some friends at work round out the Mario Bros. crew (during a lunch break, of course). They loved it, leaping right into the action and leaving me in the dust. They’ve been eager for another round ever since — certain proof that more really is merrier when it comes to Mario games.

Platform: Wii

On the Web:www.mariobroswii.com


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