There’s nothing like the launch of a Nintendo console that comes with a brand new Super Mario Bros. game. And for the Wii U, gamers got the opportunity to get in on some sweet platforming action right on Day 1, with the release of New Super Mario Bros. U.
Players who have already checked out the more recent titles like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, New Super Mario Bros. 2, etc., will no doubt feel right at home, as the game maintains the similar gameplay formula, while also providing a higher level of difficulty, cooler worlds and some additional features.
From the moment you pop in the game, you’re eased right into things, as the game’s earlier levels are easy to run through, but you’ll soon start coming across much more challenging levels as you progress through the game. While you may never find yourself without any lives left, you’ll die pretty often, which is a nice change of pace from the past few Mario games, which to me, felt much too easy. Another big part of the game is the return of a true overworld map. Much like Super Mario World for the SNES, players will get a progressive map, that rather than send players onto a new island, you’ll simply travel the same map, unlocking new worlds as you go along. Each world has plenty of hidden levels or alternate exits, that unlock other levels, while also throwing in some battles that are not part of an actual level; something like what you’d encounter in Super Mario Bros. 3 when coming across a Hammer Brother.
Presentation wise, the game looks extremely clean and colorful, which just looks so much more polished than New Super Mario Bros. Wii, though I’d wager that more could have been done. Sure the game is pretty, but doesn’t seem to push the Wii U at all in terms of what it can do. Not just in the graphics department, but also in the soundtrack, which isn’t very unique at all. Again, they’re not bad, just not at the level that I’m sure they can be at. In fact, if you compare NSMBW and NSMBU, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference, with the obvious addition of HD art, and a bit of lighting effects in certain levels. Still, when you play the game, you’ll be all smiles.
The game does bring with it the multiplayer mode that lets up to four regular players on-screen at the same time, with one additional player being able to use the Gamepad to create platforms and the like, in order to help the characters on screen. This is all fine and dandy in spurts, but I couldn’t play it for extended periods of time; not because it was broken or anything, but because it became annoying. Players will bump and bounce off each other, causing unwanted deaths and those fighting for items will surely cause more problems than alleviate them. Yeah, it’s cool for a little party atmosphere, but I had much more fun playing the game on my own.
Nintendo brought back Coin Battles, while also introducing Boost Rush and Challenge Mode. In Challenge Mode, players will tackle unique challenges such as trying to clear out a level without touching the ground. These challenges were really enjoyable and I find myself coming back time and time again. A lot of them can be frustrating, as one particular challenge had me trying to avoid projectiles being thrown at me by enemies while I tried to stay atop these really small platforms, but the challenge of it all kept me playing. As for Boost Rush, you will have to try to get through a level as quickly as possible, while the speed of the auto-scrolling level will increase as you pick up coins. Players can also use their Miis to bring them into the game.
I managed to also try out the game on the Gamepad, as you do get to play it without the TV. Needless to say I was impressed, as I didn’t notice any hiccups or lag from the Gamepad. The game looked pretty good and almost felt like I had a handheld system with me as I trudged through more levels. For those wondering, you can in fact, play the game with the Wii remote as well.
With a much improved experience from the last two games, New Super Mario Bros. U feels like a solid evolution of the series, that while doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the franchise, does produce one of the better 2D Mario games to date.