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Even Super Mario Bros. Wonder’s approach to difficulty is playful

One of the unlockable badges basically gives you a grappling hook. | Image: Nintendo

When it comes to difficulty, most games like to put you in a bucket. At the start of the experience, you have to choose whether you want to play on a hard or easy mode, and usually, over the course of the game, you can move between these as you see fit, which is good because it’s hard to really know what mode is right for you at the beginning. Super Mario Bros. Wonder doesn’t force you to make this decision. It doesn’t have traditional difficulty settings at all. And yet, its approach to difficulty is one of the most refreshing I’ve ever seen — it’s both subtle and powerful and as playful as the rest of the game.

The most obvious form this takes is in the characters you can play as. The main cast of Mario and friends are all basically…

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