Super Mario Bros. Wonder sends Mario and pals to the Flower Kingdom, where a whole batch of threatening lifeforms are just begging to be stomped on by our heroes. While many invasive species from the Mushroom Kingdom also exist in the Flower Kingdom — like the Goomba, Koopa, Spiny, and Piranha Plant — this game is full of brand-new strange little creatures.
The Super Mario series has remixed and reimagined its rank-and-file bad guys in the past, but Wonder goes much further. More than 40 new weird lil’ guys are a threat in this world, and many are just as inventive as the Wonder Effects that make the new Super Mario adventure so memorable.
Here are the 12 best new monsters to join the Super Mario Bros. bestiary, together with factual explanations as to why they’re just so darn good.
One of the earliest and most dazzling effects to come from a Wonder Flower is the introduction of the Bulrush, a distant cousin of the Reznor who is much more mobile, is more aggressive, and looks good in a singlet. Their vaguely strongman-like appearance is clever, but it really comes down to the awe of the Bulrush stampede and the fact that I love a video game enemy that knocks itself out.
Another great Wonder Effect really sells the Maw-Maw, a moseying amphibian with a gaping mouth that swallows Goombas whole. Maw-Maws and the Wonder Effect that turns Mario and friends into Goombas turns Super Mario Bros. Wonder into a mini-stealth game, just one of the many refreshing gameplay mix-ups that Nintendo stuffed into the platformer. In addition to delighting in seeing video game bad guys knock themselves out, I also love watching a little weirdo like the Maw-Maw panic sweat.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder does bouncy stuff expertly. The jiggles and boi-yoi-yoings in here are top notch. The Bloomp is just one great example of the many balloon-shaped or gelatinous things from which Mario can sproing, and the animation of a deflating balloon fish is better than it needed to be. The Super Mario games have always had great fish — and now, thanks to Wonder, the series has a new top 10 bizarro fish guy.
Joining the Bloomp as a remarkable bouncy round boy is the Hoppo, a perfectly spherical hippopotamus that enables some of Super Mario Bros. Wonder’s best jumps and transforms levels by getting wedged into gaps. And like the Bloomp, this is one of the few Flower Kingdom creatures to be transformed by a Wonder Effect, becoming even bigger and creating a brief moment of delightful platforming chaos.
The Super Mario Bros. series has always been a little too light on slime for my taste. But Wubba and the huge blocks of green gelatinous goo in the Fungi Mines address that shortcoming. Wubba aren’t particularly interesting to battle against, but their movement — squishing into and out of slime cubes — is pleasing to watch. They burst with a satisfying spray of ooze when stomped on. Plus, you get to transform into a Wubba in one of the game’s best Wonder Effects.
As evolutions of the Bob-omb go, it’s hard to do better than the Hanabihei, a sentient little firework. These colorful little explosive guys blow up stuff like blocks and Piranha Plants real good, and more importantly, they look great while doing so. Where Bob-ombs induce panic, Hanabihei give nothing but pleasure.
What a name! Hoppycat! A variation on Spinys, the floppy Hoppycat will make you rethink your jumps, spicing up vertical gameplay moments. Escaping the giant Hoppycats during an early-game Wonder Effect is one of Wonder’s most fun moments: You need to dodge their jumps while also using them to tear through a level with their giant spikes.
There’s not much to say about the Morocon, because it’s just a good gimmicky spin on the Goomba. This walking kernel of corn (with a poofy pompadour!) gets poppin’ mad whenever it touches a Hot-Hot Rock. Folks, that’s just good, clean fun.
One of most spine-tingling additions to the Super Mario Bros. bestiary is the Moving Door, a fanged mimic that pretends to be a regular ol’ door. Try to enter the wrong one and you’ll be treated to the rare Mario jump scare! The toothy door is one of a handful of singing-and-dancing enemies, a bit of musical flavor that Wonder pulls off much better than the New Super Mario Bros. games ever did.
Trottin’ Piranha Plant
Another song-and-dance baddie is the Trottin’ Piranha Plant, a new version of the foul weed that hates to be tied down to a pipe. I love that Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a musical, and the fact that Piranha Plants now move and groove only deepens my affection for it.
This may be the Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker superfan in me talking, but I love a mummy in a Mario game. The Mumsie pairs mummy wrappings with the pull handles that Mario and friends can yank on in various levels. The Revver, a Dry Bones variant with a pull cord, does something similar, but there’s something really satisfying about unraveling a Mumsie and seeing it poof into nothingness.
I love a fresh spin on the Bullet Bill. Missile Meg distinguishes itself by having a sleek retro rocket design and serving as a moving platform. Later, it gives Super Mario Bros. Wonder one of its more colorful moments. For a species that has a lifespan of a few seconds, I’ve gotta shout it out.