Nintendo unveiled a fresh Mario offering in the shape of New Super Mario Bros Wii at E3 today.

The game will be released by Christmas this year and harks, in many ways back to the roots of the original games. The game returns to a 2D plane, much like the classics, but introduces a new co-op mode. Playing the game with friends seems to be the main emphasis of the title, with support for a maximum of four players. The title will feature level design set to take older gamers back to the days of early Mario, with emphasis on traditional gameplay to match.

A new feature for the series is the ability to throw other players in order to get to hard-to-reach places or to kill enemies. Blocks are even able to dispense enough mushrooms for all the players in the game.

Included in the new effort is a “propeller suit”, which lets players, with a shake of the controller, fire their character high above the ground, before slowly floating back down in a twirling fashion.

The game allows four players to move around with ease by using a system in which the camera pans out as the on-screen characters move away from each other (think Little Big Planet). If a player is too slow however, and the camera gets too far away, they’ll will be wiped out only to reappear in a bubble for their friend to bring them back. The bubble respawning system is used throughout the game for player deaths regardless of cause.

The level seen at E3 was much like that of the older classic, with the traditional design that’s become so iconic over the years. There are pipes to underground sections, green hills, blocks to bash with your head and goombas to crush with your feet. There are even rotating land sections and coins to collect, it really does take you back to the originals.

Competition in the game seems very friendly, with emphasis being on the co-operative nature of team play, though there are a few chances to get 1-UP on your friends (see what I did there?). The flag-grab at the end of the level is now a race between you and your friends, with each subsequent friend’s grab gaining bonus points if achieved within 3 seconds. Post-level comes the obligatory points-totting screen to show who the daddy of your friendship group is.

Check our New Super Mario Bros. Wii hub soon for a hands-on preview and more news as it comes.