New Super Mario Bros. U Wii U Review
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo Genre: Platformer Players: 1-5 Age Rating: 3+
Other console/handheld formats: N/A
Mario is one of those games that Nintendo just know that they can count on, so what better way to launch a new Nintendo console than with a Mario game amongst the launch line-up? New Super Mario Bros. U is the fourth game in the series, and comes only three months after the release of the third game on 3DS. But the truth is that the world can never have too many Mario games.
For those unfamiliar with The New Super Mario Bros. series, these are games that return the Italian Plumber to his 2D origins, with each game being played on a 2D plane at all times, although with 3D models populating the levels. 2D and 3D Mario have always been very different games, and while 2D was, and remains, more simplistic than the 3D games, a classic Mario game is always most welcome.
Noteworthy is the fact that New Super Mario Bros. U is the first time that the Mario series has ever been playable in full HD. True, the majority of us will be waiting to see what a 3D Mario game looks like in HD, although New Super Mario Bros. U certainly looks very smooth and also has a likeable enough and vibrant art style. It’s certainly good to see Mario in HD for the very first time.
Both the 2D and 3D Mario games are known for their masterful level design, and New Super Mario Bros. U is certainly no exception. True, the game takes many of the traditional elements from 2D platformers, although Nintendo are well known for putting things in the right places, and also coming up with some truly devilish designs. Here, we have the usual big gaping halls, moving platforms, lava, and enemies to contend with.
During multiplayer games, the game does retain the ability from New Super Mario Bros. Wii that allows you to press a button to place yourself inside a protective bubble. This means that you are able to avoid losing a life if, say, you plummet down a hole that you can’t see the bottom of and then press the bubble button in time, allowing you to then move towards your player partner/s in order to be burst out of the bubble. The bubble can also be used for a less skilled player to easily navigate through a level in multiplayer, and you’ll also return in a bubble after losing a life.
This isn’t to say that the game isn’t challenging, as it most certainly is. There are some nasty difficulty spikes, and thus traversing certain levels can be quite stressful at times. It’s one of those games that I felt was begging me to continue playing it though, and reaching the end flag on particular stages not only brings much relief, but it will also give many a real sense of triumph. But New Super Mario Bros. U does have an uneven difficulty curve, which, while never causing it to be any less fun, means there can be a level that is a real shock to the system in terms of its difficulty in one instance, and then the next one can then prove to be like a walk in the park in comparison, albeit a walk in the park with a lot of manic jumping.
New Super Mario Bros. U also has power-ups of course. New in the game is the flying squirrel suit, of which allows you to glide over a lengthy distance before dropping to solid ground once again. Yoshi returns, and there’s also the new addition of the baby Yoshi’s. The three baby Yoshi types are colour coordinated, with each colour having their own special abilities such as inflating to climb heights, blowing bubbles as well as being a source of light. To make use of a baby Yoshi, you have to carry him with you through the stages.
As opposed to separate maps for each world, the stages are now laid out on a big map, bringing to mind Super Mario World. This makes everything feel a lot more connected than previously, with the world’s being linked up by various paths, making stage selection feel more like an adventure in a sizeable world.
New Super Mario Bros. U also has a lot of longevity. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find many of the levels a challenge to complete, while each stage also has three giant coins to be found, and finding them all will prove to be a great personal achievement for many. There are also unlockable stages and a number of additional modes to play besides the main story mode.
There’s a brand new Challenge mode of which presents varied challenges for you to undertake. There’s Time Attack, Coin Collection, 1-UP Rally (finish the stage with a specific number of lives or over), Special, and Boost Challenges. The Challenge mode will certainly have avid players coming back for more; attempting to better their previous runs.
Boost Rush on the other hand is all about getting to the end of the stages as quickly as possible, with coin collection increasing the speed that the level scrolls. The mode can be played by up to four people at once, and a fifth player can add to the fun and frantic mayhem by making use of the Wii U’s GamePad.
Finally, Coin Battle has players battling out to have the most coins by the end of the stage, and there’s little reason to worry about knocking other players down holes or into sharp spikes and whatnot. With the story mode as well as its many secrets to be discovered, there’s already a fair bit of content, but when you factor in the additional modes, this is definitely one game that will have many players coming back for more time and time again.
With its busy levels and many holes to potentially fall down, New Super Mario Bros. U is a Mario game at its most fiendish. There’s an uneven difficulty curve and the save system can be infuriating if you aren’t careful, but this is a game that still has that special Nintendo magic present. In conclusion, New Super Mario Bros. U is one of the Wii U’s early highlights, proving once again that Nintendo can always rely on their biggest star.