Back when I first purchased my Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U was the very first game I played – making it my very first experience with the 8th generation of home console video gaming. So why I’ve only just decided to review it is beyond me.
Released in November 2012, New Super Mario Bros. U (NSMBU) is the latest entry in the “two-dimensional” side-scrolling Mario platforming series. The following August, NSMBU received an expansion pack/DLC in the form of New Super Luigi U which was released in celebration of Nintendo’s Year of Luigi.
I’ve yet to actually give New Super Luigi U a proper play-through, so until I do this review will solely focus on the standalone NSMBU title.
The story of New Super Mario Bros. U actually strays slightly from the normal routine of the Super Mario Bros. series. Rather than outright kidnap Princess Peach, instead Bowser and friends decide to invade the castle, hold the Princess captive and throw Mario, Luigi and a couple of Toads far, far away thanks to his giant robotic hand.
It is then the mission of Mario and company to take back the mushroom kingdom and save Peach.
Everyone should be familiar with the Super Mario Bros. formula by now, as it hasn’t changed since 1985. You start each level on the left-most part of the screen, and have to work your way to the flagpole at the end of the level, to the right.
As you progress, you’ll find yourself dodging fireballs and flying axes, jumping on top of a variety of enemies and collecting a variety of power-ups all in the name of rescuing the Mushroom Kingdom.
The game challenges you with eight worlds that you have to progress through to complete the game, each with a handful of levels, a mini-boss and the main boss. Each world is uniquely themed, and range from the grassy plains of Acorn Plains to the sky-world Meringue Clouds.
Whilst the game’s title is again prefixed with the word “New” there isn’t exactly much new stuff in the game. A lot of the world themes and ideas seem to be recycled from the previous entries.
Obviously the gameplay hasn’t changed either, which is fine – the consumers buy Mario Bros. for that exact reason, familiar and good gameplay. However it begs the question if the “New” title prefix is still relevant and valid.
One standout new addition to the series is the Super Acorn; a brand new power up which turns the player into Squirrel Mario/Luigi/Toad who then has the ability to glide around the level and, at the shake of the controller/press of a button, receive a short vertical boost to add to your flight time.
Graphically, NSMBU is good – especially when you consider it was one of the earliest Nintendo first party titles released for the Wii U – and we all know of Nintendo’s ability to bring out the best in a console, even if it is significantly “underpowered”.\
There isn’t a single problem with the game either, in that there isn’t a single bug or glitch. Nintendo have always been one to release a faultless game, and they’ve managed to do it yet again.
The game is as vibrant, colourful and lively as you would expect from a Mario game. Everything in the levels dances to the beat of the music, including the enemies, which is an humorous feature. It’s always amusing to see a Koopatrooper patrolling an area of the level, to then throw up some “Jazz hands” every now and then.
Musically, the game is top-notch, too. Each world has it’s own theme and set of unique tunes to accompany the great levels, which helps add to the atmospheric feel. Koji Kondo, the guy behind many of Nintendo’s greatest soundtracks, was one of the supervisors on NSMBU’s soundtrack, and that’s just great.
The Mario series has always been one for great and easy to use controls, and NSMBU is no exception to that rule.
It is entirely possible to complete 99% of the game just by pressing right on the control stick/direction pad and the “A” button to jump over obstacles. The only time you’d actually need to head to the left again is to pick up any missed coins, or maybe dodge a boss’s attack. So as always, NSMBU is probably one of the easiest games that anyone of any skill level can pick up and play without any major issues.
Obviously there are many more things that can be done – I’ve only mentioned the D-Pad and “A” button thus far, and the Wii U GamePad has at least 10 other buttons/input methods – however it would just be unnecessary padding of the review to go into too much detail.
Just know that everything you would expect Mario to do is doable. You can sprint, ground pound, carry objects, use power up specific abilities and undertake many more actions.
Overall, New Super Mario Bros. U was a good start to the Wii U’s game library, giving gamers a solid start to the Wii U before what would have been a drought for a while.
It’s may be more of the same, generic Super Mario Bros. formula but that’s not a bad thing – It works so well that Nintendo don’t need to change anything.
Even if you’ve played the previous few entries on the DS, 3DS or Wii – where this entry draws much inspiration from – its definitely worth a play, just like any Nintendo first party title.