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Nabbit cheated me out of the Super Mario Bros. Wonder experience

I just picked him for his ears

An image of Nabbit crouching and pickup up a mushroom in Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Graphic: Ana Diaz/Polygon | Image sources: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

When I started my playthrough of Super Mario Bros. Wonder as Nabbit, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I picked him purely on vibes. He reminded me of Ravio from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and he seemed like an unlikely hero for the new game. He isn’t a model hero like Mario; he looks like a pesky little thief. I liked that about him — that is, until I realized he cheated me out of the traditional Mario experience.

I jumped into the game with high hopes. I couldn’t wait to explore these trippy and cartoony worlds with hidden delights like full-on musical numbers with piranha plants. And while the game certainly delivered its fair share of awe-inspiring moments in the early levels, something felt... off. Nabbit simply collected all the power-ups and never grew larger. He didn’t transform into an elephant after eating the Elephant Fruit. I would inflate the power-up into its balloon form, only for me to jump and have it go back into my inventory.

Furthermore, Nabbit seemed eerily unresponsive to the enemies around him. In an earlier level filled with running bulls, he got pummeled by an entire herd of them and took it like a champ. He just stood there as his character blinked a bit. Still, I tried not to overthink it. I hadn’t encountered enemies like this in another Mario game, so I thought maybe they existed to be an obstacle and not something that damaged characters. Concepts like the badges didn’t appear until a few levels in, so I figured I just needed to get to the right tutorial. But after a certain point, I couldn’t help but wonder... was there something off about Nabbit?

Well, as it turns out, Nabbit is special. I didn’t know this at first, but Nabbit is one of two characters who doesn’t take damage and can’t use power-ups in Super Mario Bros. Wonder. (The other character is Yoshi, whom you can ride in co-op.) Overall, he’s a great addition to the game. He serves as a way for people to tweak gameplay, allowing for a greater skill range of players to enjoy the game. On the flip side of that, it means Nabbit might not be the ideal choice if you want to experience Mario with the traditional damage system and power-ups.

For my first time playing this game, I didn’t get to experience the thrilling highs of transforming into a chunky elephant and saying, “Wowie zowie!” or the lowest lows of being a full-on punching bag for a herd of bulls. Super Mario Bros. Wonder isn’t the most difficult game, so I want to play as a character who faces the added challenge of the chaos that comes with dodging and jumping over enemies — especially in the chaotic Wonder Flower scenes. So, although I’m now opting to pick other characters from here on out, it seems like this little Nabbit pulled a fast one on me.

The next level of puzzles.

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