I know the Wii U isn’t exactly a “retro” console – but for all intent and purpose – its time has passed! I loved the Wii U – it was unique and had a bunch of exclusive games that really made it worth having. Many didn’t believe that thought and it never became a hit. I thought it would be worth reviewing some Wii U games to make a case for why people should pick it up (while they still have a chance) – as the system and many of its exclusive games are becoming harder and harder to find.
I picked my Wii U up the day it came out back on November 18, 2012. The game I was excited to play was New Super Mario Bros U! In terms of story, the game is somewhat similar to most games. Peach must be saved from Bowser! This time however, Bowser invades Peaches castle and sends Mario, Luigi, and Toad across to a new land with the help of a giant mechanical arm! Mario and friends must travel across this new land to get back to the Castle in order to save Peach!
In terms of gameplay, this is a 2D platforming game. You take control of Mario, Luigi, or one of two Toads as you run, jump, and stomp your way through levels with the ultimate goal of getting to the end of the stage and grabbing the pole flag! There are tons of crazy jumps to make, puzzles to solve, powers to collect, enemies to defeat, and secret exits to find which keeps the level design fresh and fun from start to finish. While the first few worlds of the game are fairly straight forward, later worlds are much more challenging and make even the most accomplished veterans think twice about how to proceed. The game also throws in a coupe challenging hard-to-reach coins in each levels that must be collected in order to fully complete the game.
What makes this game really stand out compared to many other Mario games is the multiplayer component – you can play this entire game with up to 5 people! I loved this aspect of the game as it allowed my buddies and I to have a number of awesome game nights as we fought our way through the game. The game also reintroduces many concepts from earlier Super Mario games which I found both nostalgic and well-placed. For instance, there is a very large overworld map that offers the freedom to choose how to move through the game (i.e., some levels and worlds can be avoided) and adds fun motivation to find secret exits in levels as they often open up new pathways on the world map that can lead to bonus levels or Toad Houses!
I loved the Toad Houses since they were first introduced in Super Mario 3. They contain power-ups that can be held in Mario’s inventory until they are needed on later more difficult levels. New Super Mario Bros U introduces a couple new suits that really add to the gameplay variation. For instance, you can find Ice Flowers which provide Mario the ability to freeze enemies, pick them up, and throw them! The new flying squirrel suit also adds some fun jumping and wall-hugging mechanics. Classic powers like fire power and star power are back too, as well as some newer powers like Mini Mushroom and Propeller Mushroom. Yoshi is also back and plays similarly to how he did in previous games, although a couple baby Yoshi’s are also introduced which add some new gameplay variety like an inflating Yoshi and Glow-In-The-Dark-Yoshi!
Many levels can be completed without any power-ups, but IF the power-ups are used properly, many secrets bonuses (including challenge coins) can be found, which really makes the game feel bigger than it actually is as levels will be played over and over to ensure everything is collected!
Apart from the regular levels, the game also adds some extra levels similar to ones found in Super Mario 3. For instance, Mario can encounter enemies on the world map, and if he does, he is thrown into an instant battle with them. If Mario wins, he gets a reward such as a Fire Flower for his inventory! If all the challenge coins are collected form a particular world, Super Star Road levels are unlocked similar to the hidden levels in Super Mario World! I was especially happy with this addition as it really rewards players for fully completing the game
Each world also has number of bosses to be battled. While fun, I found many of the bosses to be a bit too easy and straight forward – especially early on in the game. I really enjoyed many of the returning boss characters such as the Koopa Kids and Boom Boom, but ultimately just wanted to the bosses to be a bit harder. The last couple of bosses felt challenging and fun – it just would have be great to have that consistency throughout the game
In terms of graphics, this was the first HD Mario game and it looks great for a 2D platformer. This is by no means a graphically intense game, but what it does it does well, and at times exceeds expectations! I was particularly blown away by the “scream levels” that look like they were painted (see below for examples), and the shimmering aurora borealis found in many of the ice levels! The character models and bosses all look great, and I experienced little to no slowdown! The music and sound effects brought together new and old material that set a great tone for the whole game!
In summary, New Super Mario Bros U is a great multiplayer 2D platformer with an expansive world, tons of levels, and fun power-ups! It is not the best Mario game, and could be more challenging during boss encounters, but is overall a great addition to the Mario series. This is must-have for any Wii U owner! Overall, I give this game a final score of 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10