Wii U Review: New Super Mario Bros U

Déjà U?

Some might argue that the New Super Mario Bros games are running out of ideas, that they play it safe with familiar levels and little challenge besides replaying levels looking for secret exits and star coins. With a new console, New Super Mario Bros U needs to be just as good as the previous games while adding something new to the franchise and it almost does it, but it does retread old ground once more.
The story is the same basic layout that we are used to, Peach’s Castle gets taken over by Bowser and his minions while Mario, Luigi and 2 Toads are thrown to the other side of the Mushroom Kingdom and so Mario begins his journey to get back to save Peach. The layout of the game follows the same as past games with traditional levels, ghost houses, towers, castles and boss battles, there are only a few hidden levels but more are unlocked if you collect all the Star Coins and complete the game.

The biggest change has to be with the controller, or the Gamepad. You’ll get posts from Miiverse hovering over the map’s levels with words of wisdom, taunts to Bowser or quips about difficult areas, I have seen the odd obscene post sneak onto the game’s boards, but it’s not something that stays up very long. Luckily, the Miiverse posts are optional and you can switch it off entirely if you wish to do so.
The best way to get the most out of the game is to play it with multiple players, one player can use the Gamepad to lay out extra platforms to help players, while the others can use Wii Remotes to play along. There are also extra Challenges like speed runs for players to tackle and competitive modes too, the game itself can be completed in a few hours but gaining every Star Coin will take a while, especially since some are quite well hidden.

As a whole, I feel New Super Mario Bros U plays it a bit safe. The main new item for Mario to use is an Acorn suit that makes him glide and it works really well, but it isn’t the best looking costume in the Mario series. It’s the first Mario game to be HD and it looks great, but its not a huge visual upgrade from past games while you’ll come across the standard Mario tunes and sounds.

The Verdict

New Super Mario Bros U does suffer from a case of déjà vu, but the formula is still a solid one that works well. It’s an impressive package with a lot to do and it’s a great way of showing off the potential of Miiverse within games. Hopefully Nintendo will try and push the envelope with the next New Super Mario Bros title, but it’s still a great launch title for the Wii U.