Mario, looking good…
New Super Mario Bros U takes everything we know about Nintendo’s iconic plumber and thrusts him via a squirrel suit onto the brand new Wii U. We’ve seen Mario over the years pipe jumping from the ancient NES, to making a quick dash, collecting as many gold coins as humanly possible on the 3DS. It has all rushed past in a blink of a Koopa Trooper’s eye. This time round, Nintendo has cast our favourite plumber onto the Wii U in full high definition for the first time, and with a whole heap of new challenges and modes to entertain us.
New Super Mario Bros U takes us on an epic side-scrolling adventure with some beautifully crisp and polished levels. In an extraordinary change of events, Bowser and his minions of Koopalings team up together to invade Princess Peach’s castle, while Mario, Luigi and the Toads are cast far away via a mechanical arm into the distance. Mario and his friends must travel the new lands that lay ahead of them to reach the castle in this amusing and colourful journey. The game follows the same format we have been used to over the years, with its simple side-scrolling mechanics of bashing blocks, grabbing the odd fire flower or ice flower and blasting enemies to kingdom come.
With a whole selection of new power-ups available to pick up, green vines to climb, or pipes to investigate, it’s hard to believe that Mario is capable of anything else at the time, but as always he has something interesting to surprise us with. This time round, Mario can take to the skies, if for only a short period of time via a special squirrel suit. Once suited up, he can fly across platforms, steering past and over the heads of giant piranha plants and even discover the odd green vine shoot to explore above the clouds or vertical paths to slide down. He’s Mario after all, he can multitask. New Super Mario Bros U allows you to use the game pad to control a character solo or with up to four other players who use the classic Wiimotes.
In ‘Boost Mode’, the player using the game pad can tap the screen to place platforms for the other players to use while they move along the TV screen. This can be used to your advantage to help your friends by carefully guiding them from platform or platform, or it can be a hindrance. While placing platforms via tapping the game pad can offer some useful guidance for when they want to reach high up areas, it can be a cause for alarm if you place a block that gets in their way or if the timing isn’t impeccable, watching them fall to their doom.
It depends if you want to help your friends in this co-operative way to make it through the various levels, or watch their faces as the platform below them completely disappears. This happened on a number of occasions in co-mode, because a lot of vocal direction is needed for controlling a character and looking back and forth from game pad to television screen. The simple fact remains that New Super Mario Bros U is enjoyable in solo or family experience, because you can swap who uses the game pad and wiimotes to get the full gameplay experience.
New Super Mario Bros has a huge selection of beautiful backgrounds and boasts some glorious HD graphics, which will have you transfixed the moment you switch the game on. Playing on the game pad is responsive and intuitive, However, I did find the two sticks felt a bit clumsy and haphazard in some of the game environments. Guiding Mario and his friends from Acorn Plains to Layer Cake Desert feels like a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging experience, if a little short lived at times. You’ll find secret walls on your journey, and coin filled caverns. This game, like any other Super Mario game, is about exploration and New Super Mario Bros U certainly has a wide range of levels and environments to explore, all with plenty of secrets for the eagle-eyed player to find.
Mario has the added enjoyment of not only toads and Luigi to accompany him; we are also introduced to Baby Yoshi, which can be carried by players within the game. Each of the Baby Yoshi’s have different colours and depending on which colour you come across, they can inflate into mid-air, blow bubbles at oncoming enemies and even illuminate dark hard to see areas. With a whole variety of power-ups available to players, you’ll soon discover mini mushrooms, which enables you to run and dash up walls, to ice flowers to transform an enemy into a block of ice.
While the vast majority of your time will be playing ‘Story Mode’ as you explore the massive world map, you’ll find yourself going back and forth to boost mode for some entertainment with friends and family. New Super Mario Bros U also features a challenge mode and this enables you to play solo or with one other player. One player uses the game pad, while the other uses the wiimote. You can choose your Mii character or Mario, Luigi, or one of the toads. New challenges are constantly being added as you work through the Story Mode, so there’s always something new to entice you back into this area of gameplay. You’ll find yourself racing through Time Attack Modes, getting to the finish line in a set period of time, or you’ll be jumping up and down on Goombrats to earn yourself a much needed 1Up. There are a wide selection of challenges to indulge in from some of the special challenges where you’ll have to dodge a number of fireballs in a limited time, to earning 1Ups by trying to reach your goal while wearing a Flying Squirrel suit without touching the ground.
New Super Mario Bros U may seem like Nintendo are rehashing another Mario game, but the Wii U game pad brings a lot to the Mario table and offers something new for both solo players, and for group play. The game is very upbeat and the fact that you can play it solely on the game pad, means that you can have more Mario time, while friends and family are watching television. Graphically, New Super Mario Bros U looks absolutely gorgeous, although I can’t help but feel that our dear beloved plumber looks a little bit squashed at times on the game pad screen. However, it’s been charming and delightful, it’s filled with a nice variety of levels, challenges and secret areas to explore and you’ll feel hard pressed to put the game down.
If you’ve just purchased a Wii U, New Super Mario Bros U is a ‘must have’ title to add to your library. Cash in your gold coins and pick it up now.