Review: New Super Mario Bros. UPosted by Mike Yawney on November 18th, 2012 View Comments
The launch of Nintendo’s Wii U is a historic one. Not only will we be seeing Nintendo games in HD for the first time, it’s also the first Nintendo console to launch with a new Mario title in 16 years. Seriously, no joke. Back in 1996, Nintendo launched the N64 with Super Mario 64. Sure we’ve Mario titles since then, but not coinciding with a console launch. Well friends, the wait is over.
New Super Mario Bros U brings a fresh coat of paint to a beloved franchise. Instead of showing off the Wii U’s graphical power with a 3D platformer, Nintendo has chosen to stick with the tried and true 2D side-scroller; one you can play with up to 4 of your friends. Multiplayer Mario may not be new, but Nintendo always has a way of taking their franchises to the next level and New Super Mario Bros U is no exception.
If you’ve ever played a Mario title you’ll already be familiar with the storyline of New Super Mario Bros U. Bowser is up to his old tricks and is holding Princess Peach captive. As always, it’s up to Mario to save her, but this time he won’t be going at it alone. Like the last couple of Mario games for Wii, you can play with 3 of your friends. Well, four actually, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The game is split into levels which are displayed on a world map. As you complete each level a path will open to the next, eventually leading you through a variety of themed areas such as the Acorn Plains, Layer-Cake Desert and Meringue Clouds. For the most part it’s pretty linear. From time to time the path will split but you always end up in the same spot within a level or two.
The attention to detail on the world map is quite incredible. Watching Mario run, jump, even slide down hills on the map itself gives this franchise a feeling we haven’t seen up until now. Mario’s world, even the map, really comes to life on the Wii U.
Levels are filled with a mix characters both old and new. Nintendo doesn’t wait long to introduce some of the new enemies. In fact, the very first enemy you encounter in the game is a Waddlewing, which is a flying squirrel-type character that has the ability to glide through the air. Even some of the classic fan favourite enemies show up in ways we’ve never seen them before.
As for power-ups, there aren’t a lot of new ones this time around. The Super Acorn gives Mario a squirrel suit to wear which gives him the power to glide, slowly descend and temporarily cling onto walls. Other power-ups include Super Mushroom, Fire flower, Ice Flower, Super Star and Mini Mushroom, which have all appeared in previous Mario titles. Sadly no Tanooki, Raccoon, Bee, Frog, Penguin or Cape are to be found in the game.
There is however another familiar face which makes a comeback…Yoshi. The fruit eating dino returns, adding some fun new gameplay elements. You’ll discover coloured baby Yoshis around the map which can be carried through levels. Not only will these hungry little guys eat up all the enemies in front of you, each colour represents a different ability. The pink baby Yoshi can inflate like a hot air balloon, taking you high up into the clouds. Blue baby Yoshi spits out bubbles which turn enemies into coins and items. Then there’s the yellow baby Yoshi which glows and acts like a lantern in dark areas. Just make sure you don’t drop them as these little guys will only help you while you’re holding onto them.
New Super Mario Bros U looks incredible. The high definition graphics really bring this franchise to life. Mario’s movements are so life-like it’s almost creepy. The first time I saw a large Piranha Plant snap as it came out of a pipe I got the chills. Even the glow from Mario’s fireballs reflect onto the ground. It’s so much fun seeing all these characters you know and love in a new light. It really makes you realize just how much Nintendo fans have been missing out with Nintendo’s reluctance to adopt HD graphics. The game is beautiful.
It’s too bad you don’t have much time to enjoy that beauty. You’ll be focusing on the action. This game is tough. A few levels pushed my platforming skills to the max, and the challenge only grows when your friends join in. Since four players can play together at the same time, everyone will find themselves bumping into eachother, accidentally pushing eachother off ledges and bouncing off eachothers heads. It’s chaotic, but a lot of fun with the right group of friends. However, if you mix in some newbies with hardcore gamers hell-bent on beating the game you’ll see some serious fireworks with all the accidental deaths. Marriages have broken up over less.
Fortunately the Wii U’s new GamePad can help in these situations. New Super Mario Bros U has a “Boost Mode” which allows someone to create temporary blocks on the screen by tapping on the GamePad’s touchscreen. Up to four blocks can be placed on the screen at a time. These blocks can be placed under someone who is about to fall off a ledge, or to create a walkway to high, hard to reach platforms. Tapping the screen can also stun enemies for a short period of time. It’s ideal in situations where younger gamers need a bit of help to navigate through levels. Or, if you’re a real jerk, you could always place blocks in awkward places to ensure everyone on the screen gets killed by enemies or falls to their death. It’s really up to you how you end up using the blocks.
New Super Mario Bros U is long, and when you’re done there’s even more goodies to enjoy. Nintendo has added a few new game modes. Challenge mode sets you up with level specific challenges such as completing levels without touching any coins, or within a set time limit. Then there’s coin battle where players compete to see who can collect the most bling.
There’s a lot to love about New Super Mario Bros U. The graphics are bold and beautiful, the story is light and whimsical. It’s so much fun to see how Nintendo has updated all our favourite characters in a new high definition environment. The game is long, provides plenty of challenge, yet is still approachable for younger gamers thanks to the new boost mode o the GamePad. I also love the fact I can play the game directly on the GamePad without having to have the TV on. Sure, I would have loved to see a few new power suits, or at least run into a few classic ones such as the raccoon suit, but in the end there’s enough in New Super Mario Bros U to keep even the most die hard Mario fan happy. If you’re buying a Wii U New Super Mario Bros U is a must buy!
boost mode helps younger gamers enjoy even difficult levels
would have love to have seen a few more power-ups
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