It’s not often you have the biggest releases from different companies landing on the same day, but 2023 is built different. Today, both Super Mario Bros. Wonder on Nintendo Switch and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on PS5 have launched to overwhelmingly positive acclaim.
Usually, if a brand – whether it be a film studio, a tech company, a video game developer – has a major launch on the horizon, it’ll aim to schedule it away from any major competition. It’s already happened once, with the brilliant Baldur’s Gate 3rescheduling its PC release to pre-empt Starfield’s popularity. This ain’t your average year, though. We’ve seen Barbie and Oppenheimer duke it out at the box office, and now it’s Nintendo and Sony’s turn to make a splash.
As it turns out, both of today’s new releases are equally brilliant in different ways. One’s a 2D platformer that reinvigorates the classic genre, while the other is a meaningful action-adventure sequel continuing the legacy of a beloved superhero.
What’s so good about Spider-Man 2 on PS5?
Exclusive to PlayStation 5 consoles, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 follows up the 2018 entry from Insomniac Games, in addition to 2020’s Miles Morales spin-off. On Metacritic, a website that aggregates reviews from major publications, Spider-Man 2 currently holds a rating of 91 out of 100 from 130 reviews. It’s a rare display of unanimity from reviewers around the world, indicating that the game not only lives up to the original but exceeds it.
According to Leah Williams on GamesHub, Spider-Man 2 spins “a Spider-story that brims with confidence, style, and most importantly – an essential human touch.”
While praising its story, David Smith for Kotaku Australia also wrote that Spider-Man 2 is “visually beautiful”, something many PlayStation games are known for. He also noted that the action iterates on the first game, and that the wingsuit glider adds to the already-satisfying web-slinging traversal.
To commemorate the game’s launch, the local PlayStation team set up a big truck suspended in webbing at Watermans Cove in Sydney, as if rescued by the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man himself. It’s a pretty neat setup that I shudder to consider when considering its logistics.
How about Super Mario Bros. Wonder?
Crossing over to Nintendo, Super Mario Bros. Wonder has also landed with a bang. A massive 93 rating adorns its Metacritic listing, from 82 reviews. Despite the side-scrolling platformer genre existing for decades now, it seems that even the most experienced reviewers were left wowed by Mario’s newest outing.
Daniel Vuckovic of prominent Nintendo community site Vooks claimed that Super Mario Bros. Wonder holds up strongly alongside the Super Nintendo classics. He wrote that it “will surprise you at every turn and is one of the best 2D Mario games alongside Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3.”
For GamesHub, Edmond Tran revelled in Wonder’s sense of joy and whimsy, from its visuals to the creative gameplay. Beyond turning into an elephant, there are lots of new ways that shake up the traditional Mario experience, which Tran said “demonstrates that there is still a lot that can be done to a near 40-year-old idea, and one that continues to spark a fulfilling sense of newfound joy through play.”