While New Super Mario Bros. Wii is seen in 2D
, some of the characters and objects are 3D polygonal renderings on 2D backgrounds, resulting in a 2.5D effect (also seen in New Super Mario Bros.) that visually simulates 3D computer graphics. Players can play as either Mario, his brother Luigi, or two Toad characters: one blue and one yellow (with the first player always as Mario).[8] Controls are similar to those of New Super Mario Bros., albeit with the added abilities of spinning in mid-air by shaking the Wii Remote, and picking up, carrying, and throwing other players. In multiplayer mode, players can play up to four players simultaneously.[9] If a player character loses a life and has at least one life, he will re-emerge encased inside a bubble, and can resume play once another player frees him by touching the bubble or a fire/ice ball (the player can shake the Wii Remote to move his bubble closer to an active player, but cannot free himself). If a player loses a life and does not have any more lives, he is dead until 100 coins are collected.[10] Players can also encase themselves inside a bubble by pressing the A button while a more skilled player traverses a difficult segment.[9] If every character in a co-op session enters bubbles at the same time (whether through death or pressing the A button), the level is lost, and they must restart.

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