New Super Mario Bros. U Review
New Super Mario Bros. U Review
Released on November 18, 2012, New Super Mario Bros. U was a launch game for Nintendo’s Wii U console. New Super Mario Bros. U is the fourth game in the New Super Mario Bros. series, which first saw life on the Nintendo DS back in 2006. Like all the New Super Mario Bros. games before it, New Super Mario Bros. U recycles the revamped, platforming gameplay and presentation that was first introduced in the original New Super Mario Bros. However, despite its familiar feel, New Super Mario Bros. U manages to jump much higher than its predecessors.
Those who’ve played practically any other Super Mario Bros. game knows what to expect here: classic Super Mario Bros. gameplay featuring lots of jumping, Goombas and Koopas, Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach, and of course, power-ups galore. As is the case with previous Super Mario Bros. games, New Super Mario Bros. U is an extremely easy game to control with only a few actions (jumping, power-up activation, butt stomping, etc.) to be concerned about.
The game supports up-to five players, four of whom must use Wii Remotes or Wii U Pro Controllers to control Mario and friends, while the fifth player utilizes the Wii U GamePad to support players; one example is the ability to create platforms to prevent other players from falling to their death. Of course, players also have the option to use just the Wii U GamePad during single player, as well as the option to play the game directly on the Wii U GamePad using its innovative touchscreen.
As for new power-ups, New Super Mario Bros. U introduces the Super Acorn, which transforms Mario and friends into flying squirrels. The flying squirrel form lets players glide through the sky and take advantage of air jumping and wall clinging. It’s a simplistic power-up but it’s also a satisfying one: gliding through the sky gives players those few extra seconds they need to make platforming decisions, plus its air jump gives players one last chance at survival. While the Super Acorn may be the only new power-up in the game, Nintendo did add three different color variations of Baby Yoshi, each with their own unique ability.
Players that grab Pink Baby Yoshi can utilize its power to turn into a balloon to float gracefully into the air. This ability is useful for grabbing out of reach Star Coins – which make their return in this game – and for finding secrets. Blue Baby Yoshis blow bubbles on command, which can be used to entrap enemies and turn them into coins, while Yellow Baby Yoshis provide players with a glowing light useful for exploring the game’s dark locations. Those curious about adult Yoshi will be glad to hear that he returns to the game, as well, though they will also be disappointed to learn that his appearances are few in number.
Overall, level design in New Super Mario Bros. U is quite impressive; I’d even go as far to say that this game has some of the best levels – tied together with an awesome Super Mario World inspired world map – in the New Super Mario Bros. series. Plenty of opportunities arise that let each of the aforementioned abilities shine, plus there are lots of challenging, yet rewarding, levels featuring thumb-twitching platforming, as well. That being said, I also believe that Nintendo could still be more creative with regards to their level design in these New Super Mario Bros. games. Some new ideas do appear, but not as often as they should. I don’t mind playing through the standard grasslands, desert, snow, beach, jungle, mountain, cloud, and volcanic areas, but new ideas would make the series feel much fresher. Thankfully, the new ideas that do appear work really well – including a giant beanstalk that loses its leaves as players ascend to the goal – but I can’t help but feel like they were only included as a tease.
New Super Mario Bros. U does have Miiverse integration and it’s a blast. Players can leave messages to Bowser on the New Super Mario Bros. U Miiverse community when they continuously fail on harder levels, but are also given the chance to celebrate after achieving specific goals. These messages appear in bubbles on the game’s world map and can serve as a warning or heads-up regarding certain obstacles. This implementation of the Miiverse gives New Super Mario Bros. U a fun and unique social experience that can only be found on Wii U.
Those looking for replay value will be happy to hear that New Super Mario Bros. U gives you plenty of content. Every level in the game has three star coins waiting to be found, while select levels have hidden exits to find, which open up new levels and act as shortcuts across the world map. After completing the game, more levels open up and two former power-ups make a surprise appearance. Fortunately, Nintendo has included additional modes outside of the main game that strengthen the package.
My personal favourite is the new challenge mode – gamers will have a blast trying to complete as many challenges as they can. Some challenges test you by forcing you to glide throughout a level without touching the ground, while others challenge you to finish levels as fast as possible, or to collect as many 1-ups as you possibly can. Surprisingly, a lot of these levels are original designs and cannot be found in the main game. In addition to the challenge mode, there are also the Boost Rush and Coin Battle modes. Boost Rush challenges players to complete packages of auto-scrolling levels that speed up as coins are collected, while Coin Battle mode is a hectic, multiplayer mode that pits players against each other in a coin collecting frenzy.
New Super Mario Bros. U is, without a shadow of doubt, the best game in the New Super Mario Bros. series. Not only is it a joy to witness in all its colorful, HD glory, but the gameplay is as solid and tight as you would expect. While the game is quite enjoyable, it does suffer from two flaws: uninspired level design and recycled music. Yes, the game does have some of the best levels in the New Super Mario Bros. series, but these levels feature little creativity, and fans know that Nintendo is most certainly capable of creating original, creative worlds. That being said, New Super Mario Bros. U is worth having in your Wii U library, especially if you like sidescrolling Mario games. Those looking for even more content after playing the game can download the New Super Luigi U DLC, which I will cover in a separate review.
9/10 – Excellent
Purchased at retail