New Super Mario Bros U was one of the first games I picked up for my Wii U. It was one of the games I was looking forward to the most, as I never actually owned its predecessor on the Wii (although I’d played a lot of it multiplayer style at friends’ houses!). If you’ve played its aforementioned predecessor on the Wii then you will be familiar with most of the games mechanics – it’s basically a 2D side scrolling Mario game!
However in this case the old adage of: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” certainly holds true. Naturally you still play as Mario and you still jump on Goombas and Koopas to kill them while trying to save the princess – who needs an in depth tear jerking story for a game? Can’t beat a classic! You’ll see familiar friends and power ups in the latest rendition of the game. Everything from Mushrooms to Ice Flowers to Yoshi is included, but it doesn’t stop there! Nintendo have thrown in a few new power ups and friends to keep us happy!
The New Stuff:
Firstly the Acorn is the new Power Up of the day! It comes in two forms, the regular Acorn and the Coveted Power Acorn! Both turn Mario into a wonderful Half Italian Plumber and Half Flying Squirrel! Just tap the button while in mid-air to spread your wings and gently float down to the ground, or press the right trigger or shake the controller if you’re using a Wii-mote and Mario-cum-Squirrel will soar back into the air. The Regular Acorn allows you to do this once before floating back down to earth while the Power Acorn allows unlimited soaring!
Next up to the plate are the Baby Yoshis! Rather than being found in levels (bar one – explained later) these cute little hungry dinosaurs are found on the world map, and once you save them they follow you around. Once you save one and start a level the little scamp will be next to you – they’re too small to ride, but just the right size to carry. If you can make it to the end of the level without carelessly dropping it down a hole (Many an hour spent going back to a previous save so that baby Yoshi didn’t die!) it will continue to follow you around the map. It’s only Castles and Haunted Houses that they won’t join you in, but fear not they will wait outside!
Baby Yoshis come in 3 colour variations: Pink, Blue and Yellow, the first two are found on the world map, while the Yellow fella is hidden in [ ? ] on certain Haunted House levels. The Pink Baby Yoshi upon pressing the trigger or shaking will inflate and you will float to the top of the level, and you can keep doing this (sometimes floating at the top of the screen all the way to the end…).
While the Blue Yoshi will, upon pressing the trigger or shaking, spew forth a load of bubbles which will capture enemies and turn them into coins. Lastly the Yellow Baby Yoshi gently glows, helping you through dark houses and will shine brighter if you press the button – scaring off all those nasty ghosts!
The Assault on the Senses:
The graphics are beautiful, fair enough it’s a 2D side scroller in the usual Nintendo/Mario cartoony fashion, and not some ultra-realistic Final Fantasy/Gran Turismo graphics wonder boat. BUT by god does this game look pretty! The full HD Mario is a joy to the eyes when you’re playing it! Combined with some typical Mario-esque music it really sets the mood no matter what level you’re playing. Generally all the levels will leave you smiling from ear to ear, especially when all the enemies on screen stop to do a jig with the music, unless you’re raging at falling down that same hole for the twelfth time… But that is not so much of a comment on the Graphics/Sound but more of a comment of me playing for too long when I’m tired after a long day of work and training…
What can be said here? It’s a 2D side scrolling Mario game – you should know what to expect! As before the levels can be deceptively difficult on occasion, sometimes that hoe just seems too big to jump over, and you’ll die countless times on it before realising you’re doing it wrong all together >_< but there is rarely a lack of lives at your disposal, even after many deaths on various levels, I still had over 70 lives remaining after I downed Bowser.
A nifty feature this time around is in fact Luigi; Mario’s faithful partner in the plumbing industry can spot when Mario is struggling to get things done alone. If you die a certain amount of times on a level, when you go into the level a green [ ! ] box will await you. If you jump into it in true Mario fashion, Luigi will appear from the box and complete the level for you, computer AI style! You can either watch him do it, and try yourself after, to see what you were doing wrong, Let Luigi finish the level and count it as your own finish or take over at any point. So can be very handy if there is just one bit you can’t do, either get shown how to do it and try yourself, or let Luigi do the tricky jump and then carry on afterwards.
Lots of people have complained about this “Catering for the Noobs” but it’s an optional feature, if you’re a hard-core gamer you DON’T HAVE to use Luigi. For the rest of us we can use the Green garbed lesser loved plumper how we see fit. I myself used him once or twice just to see what I was doing wrong – or on one haunted house to find my way through as I had missed a hidden door >_<
For newer gamers or for the less skilled Mario fans, I’m sure the Luigi box will be a useful tool to help save the princess!
Invite Your Friends:
The Multiplayer might not be on par with Call of Duty or Battlefield, but for having a couple of friends round, it will certainly liven up the evening! Much like the previous version up to 4 people can play on screen at once in a “Co-Op” version of the main game. I put ‘Co-Op’ in inverted commas because whenever I played the old one in the past it always soon turned into laughing as we all try to kill each other by forcing our “friends” into holes/enemies/fireballs. And this aspect remains largely unchanged!
The one slight change is the game pad. A fifth player (doesn’t have to be fifth, could be second through fourth as well depending how many friends you have) doesn’t play on screen but can use the touch screen to “help” (see the above usage on inverted commas) their friends around the level by placing blocks on the screen. The more the character players jump on the blocks in succession the faster a ‘star meter’ fills up at the top of the screen, once it is filled up the gamepad ‘player’ gains star power and can tap on enemies to kill them.
My only gripe with this is that this is the only way someone with the gamepad can play multiplayer. Even if there are only two of you, if all you have is a Wii-mote and the game pad, the game pad player can ONLY do the touch screen bit, I really think there should be an option to play as a character instead if there are only 1-4 players active.
An important part of games for many people in these hard economic times is value for money. I don’t know about you, but for me that means the amount of game time I get out of it against how much the game cost when I brought it. I’m not one for playing a game over and over, once I’ve completed a game (IF I complete a game – I get distracted quite easily) there is a good chance I won’t pick it up again. This is where Call of Duty-esque games often become valuable, their campaign mode might be short, but there is hours and hours of online multiplayer time in it.
I was honestly thinking that once I completed Mario that the chances I would not play it much after, probably only when friends came over for some multiplayer fun. I did say to myself on numerous levels that I’d go back and do it again with all 3 star coins, but deep down I knew I probably wouldn’t. But upon defeating Bowser I found I was introduced to a new zone I could get to via the pipe launchers, with something like 8 new levels, but each level is only unlocked once you get all the star coins in each zone! All of a sudden I’ve got more playing I’m actually compelled to do. If that and the multiplayer weren’t enough there are also a few fun modes to play through, from challenges to time trials to compete for medals.
All in all I’d say that it is quite a re-playable game, once you’ve collected all of the star coins to unlock the new levels and earned all the medals in the challenges and time trials AND somehow managed to play so much multiplayer that the prospect of trying to kill off all your friends has gone from hilarious every time to a yawn inspiring notion – then you’ll probably have had a lot of game hours worth from your £40 (or however much you paid for it)
A small note must be made, and by a small note; I mean one must scream and shout about it as its one of my favourite things about the game, is that the entire game is shown on the Gamepad screen. Apart from the aforementioned Touch Screen Multiplayer fun, everything can be played just on the gamepad, you can turn the TV off, have a film on or even play a different console etc on the TV while you happily sit playing Mario!
The gamepad has about a 15-20 foot range from the console I’d say, my bedroom (where the Wii U lives) is directly above the dining room, and I’ve been able to play Mario while waiting for my dinner before. If you’re lucky enough to have the Wii U positioned fairly close to your bathroom – YOU CAN EVEN PLAY MARIO WHILE ON THE TOILET! That’s right no more crappy iPhone games while doing your business, no more crossword/Sudoku puzzles, those days are past, now it’s the time for Mario and other Wii U games while perched upon the throne!
TL:DR – Conclusions:
New Super Mario Bros U is a great little game, if you enjoyed the Wii version, you’re bound to get along well with this one as well! The only real downsides to the game I’ve found so far is the fact you can’t use the gamepad for regular playing in multiplayer – Which all things considered isn’t a massive downside for such a great game – and a game you can play while on the toilet no less!
This isn’t a revolutionary game, its Mario; Pure and simple. It’s not far off what he has always been doing for the last twenty so years, running sideways on our screen, jumping on Goombas and saving the princess. While not revolutionary, it is presented beautifully and is certainly a whole lot of fun to play. It reminds us that simple games can still rival everything else out there.
It achieves everything it sets out to do, Nintendo fans and platformer fans alike will not be disappointed with this great release title, it’s a game you can sit down and play alone or with your mates while getting drunk and everything in between!