Wii U: New Super Mario Bros. U
Published by Nintendo
Developed by Nintendo
Rated E for Everyone
Mario makes his Wii U debut with the New Super Mario Bros U and by all accounts it’s an enjoyable success. N.S.M.B.U brings Mario back to the day of classic 2D platforming with a solid challenge and colorful backgrounds. While the story may be familiar, and by some accounts played out, the blend of new and old will make you happy that you spent your gaming dollars on Mario’s latest adventure.
Bowser and the Koopa Kids have kidnapped Princess Peach again and have kicked Mario to the far reaches of the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario, Luigi, and friends will have to work their way through a variety of themed worlds such as the Acorn Plains, Soda Jungle and Rock Candy Mines in order to make their way back to the castle.
Gameplay is rather straight forward for all of those that have ever played a Super Mario Bros game. Progressing through a stage requires one to run, jump, climb and navigate various obstacles. You’ll have to rely on your quick twitch muscles and timing as many of the boards sends hoards of enemies toward you all at once. To help you along the way there are various power-ups and friends scattered throughout the stages.
New to the series are the Super Acorn and the Mini Mushroom. The Super Acorn gives Mario a squirrel suit that allows him to glide and stick to walls. There is also an extra version of the Super Acorn that will allow the user to fly, this is rather rare. The Mini Mushroom allows Mario to shrink and run up walls. Due to your small size it is hard to damage enemies and you can only be touched once before you die.
Yoshi makes a return appearance in various colors to help Mario and the gang on their quest to save Princess Peach. Green is the standard Yoshi; while riding him you can eat enemies and fruit to the point of laying a power up. He can also give you a slight hover boost by holding down the jump button. Carrying the Red Yoshi will allow you to eat enemies and inflate him like a hot air balloon so that you can float for a moderate amount of time. The Blue Yoshi shoots bubbles at enemies. If the bubbles make contact the enemies will turn into coins. Bouncing on the bubbles will assist in reaching higher locations. The Gold Yoshi lights up dark places. You can carry him around like a lantern and also emit a burst that will light up the whole stage shortly.
You will need all of the power ups and friends that you can get to make your way through the Mushroom Kingdom. The boards, especially later in the game, can be challenging in their own right. Adding to the challenge are the 3 star coins per stage. The star coins are required to unlock a special treat later in the game. These coins are not only hidden at times but in some stages nearly impossible to grab.
Luckily for N.S.M.B.U it looks as good as it plays or else there would be times where the frustration may get to you. Each world is themed and the backgrounds are beautifully decorated to the point of being sickeningly sweet. Sickeningly sweet is a literal description as most of the stages are sugary confection inspired. The production value is apparent as each stage is awash in color and detail. You will routinely find yourself discovering some detail in the background or actions of enemies.
While graphically stunning, musically N.S.M.B.U is disappointing. Like many older Mario games the music throughout is mainly one song slightly altered depending on the stage. Altered, is actually too generous as it is mostly the same music with different instrumental accompaniment At this point in gaming it is not too much to expect different music on minimally each world. By the end of the game the music gets grating.
Luckily N.S.M.B.U. has a a variety of different modes to take your mind off the sub par music. Challenge mode is exactly what it sounds. In this mode there are various objectives given to the player, some timed, some not. From things like collecting 1-ups, speed runs and avoiding coins. There is something for everyone in this mode and provides plenty of challenging situations. Coin Rush allows you to race through stages either by yourself or with friends. The screen slowly moves while pushing you along, as you collect more and more coins. The screen picks up speed making you chose how daring you want to be with your coin addiction. Boost mode allows up to four players to play stages as 1 uses the Wii U controller to draw blocks to assist the others in their quest, the others use standard Wii controllers. Assisting players multiple times in a row will provide bonuses.
Overall N.S.M.B.U is a great addition to the 2D platforming genre. There are plenty of new things to keep long time Mario fans from feeling burned out and for you newbies, you are in for a great treat. With plenty of old school references, style and new perks such as social interaction on the world maps and promised DLC there is a lot to like about New Super Mario Bros. U .