New Super Mario Bros. U is a 3D side-scrolling platformer for the Wii U. The game launched alongside Nintendo’s next-gen console and is the fourth in the “New Super” series of Mario games. Nintendo EAD developed the title while Nintendo published it. Along with New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS, this is the second New Super Mario Bros. game in 2012. The game features multiplayer with support for four players controlling different characters as well as the ability for a fifth player to aid in levels by using the Wii U’s GamePad.
The game begins with Mario, Luigi, some Toads and Princess Peach having a nice supper in Mushroom Kingdom Castle, when all of sudden stuff gets bad. Their lovely dinner is interrupted by a sky full of Koopa Dirigibles. Outside the walls is a fleet of Zeppelins with the faces of Bowser and all his kids’ faces. It is narcissistically terrifying. Before they can do anything, Bowser uses a giant hand to grab Mario, Luigi and the Toads then throws them far away into a mushroom acorn tree. Far away from the Castle, the gang has to watch Bowser once again kidnap Princess Peach. At this point, Mario is getting too old for this ***t.
For those that possibly have not played any of the other New Super Mario Bros. games then the gist of how gameplay breaks down in the game is that the player controlling Mario, Luigi or a Toad will run through a level avoiding hazards, destroying enemies (either by jumping, using a power-up or koopa shell) and collecting coins. Timing and reflexes as with most platformers are skills necessary for success in each level. The player will succeed when they reach the flag at the end of the level and are allowed to move through the other levels in each world.
New Super Mario Bros. U features eight worlds that Mario and the gang can run and jump through in their quest to save Princess Peach. There are sand, ice, fire and water levels, which are standard for a Mario game, but also favorites like levels with giant versions of enemies make an appearance. Each world will have a mini-boss castle and a boss battle with one of koopaling gang; again, a structure that is instantly recognizable. Unlike the Wii and DS versions of the game there are not as many new power-ups, in fact the only specific original power-up is the Flying Squirrel power-up. However, the game does feature many of the power-ups introduced in prior New Super Mario Bros. games. Yoshi and other baby Yoshis (with various powers) make an appearance in the game, which is a nice addition.
Graphics and Sound
The one benefit that this iteration of New Super Mario Bros. has over other is that graphically it is superior to the previous games (neither is this graphical leap hugely necessary for a Mario side-scroller, nor particularly hard compared to the Wii, DS or 3DS). New Super Mario Bros. U features great detailed backgrounds and the level design for the various worlds has vibrancy and really pops on screen. The animations are fluid and one of the most charming parts of the game is when koopas dance on screen to a specific musical cue. Musically, the game has a charming and infectious soundtrack that compliments the feelings of nostalgia that swirl in older gamers. It is nothing as mind blowing as the soundtrack for either of the Mario Galaxy games, but it is enjoyable.
New Super Mario Bros. U is certainly nothing revolutionary, neither does it break any new ground in the Mario franchise. For anyone who owns any of the other versions on one of Nintendo’s previous systems then they will be getting a similar experience with some minor improvements. That said, this is a fun game and definitely will be a huge seller on Nintendo’s new system. There are some exciting gameplay possibilities in a multiplayer setting with the Wii U’s GamePad. As a party game, it will be a crowd pleaser. The gameplay is nostalgia laden for anyone in their twenties and above, and for the younger crowd, it is certainly a great introduction to the portly plumber’s platforming formula. Graphically, the game looks great and while the game does not necessarily need hugely impressive graphics, there are some leaps made here to present Mario and the gang on the Nintendo’s more powerful system. Despite it being good and likely a staple for new Wii U owners’ collections, this should be the last New Super Mario Bros. game and Nintendo should really re-invent or push the creative boundary with their flagship character like they used to do with new hardware.