New Super Mario Bros U is easily the most anticipated Wii U launch game, and easily the one that has the most promise to live up to. And the game easily lives up to those promises, even if it’s not perfect nor as groundbreaking as previous Mario games.
The story in New Super Mario Bros U is very familiar: Bowser kidnaps Peach, and it’s up to Mario and friends to rescue her. This takes him through lots of game worlds and dozens of levels of all sorts, from underwater, to deserts, to everything in between. The world in New Super Mario Bros U is huge, to say the least. On top of the dozens of levels you’ll be playing throughout the game, there are even bonus levels that are unlocked at the end of the game, depending on how many star coins you collect throughout the game.
Multiplyer in New Super Mario Bros U is limited of offline, local only, but it supports up to 5 players who can play throughout the entire campaign. The fifth player controls the Wii U GamePad, which lets him help the others by giving boosts throughout the levels. Or he can try and sabotage the others as well. The GamePad player actually doesn’t control a character, he serves as an outside “spectator” who has certain abilities in the game.
There are other multiplayer modes, including competitive modes for those looking to play against someone, not with someone. But it’s clear that New Super Mario Bros U is a game you’d rather play with your friends rather than against.
New modes include Boost Mode, where you have to complete a level within a certain time frame, and many Challenge Modes, which feature their own dedicated mini-levels. Safe to say, there is a lot to do in New Super Mario Bros U, but the main singleplayer campaign easily overshadows all the other modes and levels and challenges.
The campaign mode features 8 difference game worlds, and to make sense of it all, the World Map is back in new Super Mario Bros U. And that’s not the only resemblance to Super Mario World. In fact, New Super Mario Bros U feels a lot like the classic 2D Mario games in not just the way you get around from map to map, but the overall feel, the atmosphere, the music — it all contributes to a very nostalgic feel, especially if you have played older Super Mario games.
The levels in the game range from the “meh”, to some truly innovative and creative ones. Some levels are very familiar, to the point where your first run-though is almost a speed-run, where you instinctively know that there’s nothing new here. This happens often in the beginning, where there doesn’t seem to be much new. But it gets a lot better. You’ll come across levels in the desert which are more interesting. Then you’ll get underwater where the game mechanics change a bit. Finally, there are levels that just blow you away, like a Van Gogh-inspired “Starry Night” level. In a sense, one wishes that Nintendo went the extra step and made every level as creative as possible, as we got a sense of the developers just taking the easy way out when it comes to some of the level design.
Which brings us to one area where New Super Mario Bros U could improve: the visuals. For the first time, we got a Mario game in HD, but despite that, the game is not that visually impressive. Part of this is due to the art design, but sometimes it feels like the game was made for the Wii and upscaled to the Wii U. The console is certainly capable of more, as fellow 2D games shows: look at Trine 2 and Rayman Legends and their gorgeous visuals and compare them to the New Super Mario Bros U. The difference is staggering.
While the game runs at HD (720p only) and at a steady 60 frames per second, more details, more effects would have done wonders for it. The environments don’t seem that detailed, but the character and enemy models are quite nice to look at while retaining that famous Nintendo-look.
Another area where New Super Mario Bros U doesn’t push the envelope is the soundtrack and audio effects. There’s nothing there we haven’t heard before. The soundtrack is very simplistic and the audio effects are some we have heard many times before. While it makes sense for Nintendo to stick with what works, they could have innovated more when it comes to visuals and audio, like they did with the masterful Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel.
Overall, the game will greatly satisfy Nintendo and Mario fans. While it’s not as perfect or innovative as previous Mario games, New Super Mario Bros U is still must-have launch title. There’s hours and hours of fun, especially when you have a friend to play with.
- Wonderful gameplay, lots of worlds, many interesting game modes.
- As charming as any Mario game, with just the right difficulty level. You never feel lost or stuck, and yet you’ll be challenged throughout the game.
- Great GamePad integration, especially when it comes to multiplayer.
- The visuals aren’t really that impressive. Aside from the HD resolution (720p), the world doesn’t appear as rich and detailed as it could be.
- Doesn’t really push the envelope or innovate like previous Mario games (Super Mario Galaxy, etc.).
- No online multiplayer.
Final score: 8/10