The Super Mario Bros. franchise is synonymous with gaming. For decades the stout plumber has been jumping across deserts and plains, descending into pipes and caverns, all with the goal of rescuing Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. With the release of the Nintendo Wii U, it was only fitting that Mario and his friends would return for another adventure in New Super Mario Bros. U. As is nearly always the case, the results are splendid.
New Super Mario Bros. U is a wonderful addition to the Mario franchise, as it marks the first time the game has endeavored into the HD world. With beautiful visuals to accompany the always precise controls and top-notch level design, Mario U is a structurally sound game that benefits from the HD enhancement. The storyline is routine for a Mario game, but that does not detract from the game at all. Players must travel across a variety of locations, on a world map that strongly resembles Super Mario World. The fact that Mario U draws heavily from classics of the series, from the world map of Super Mario World, to the toad houses made popular in Super Mario 3, fans of the series can rejoice that Nintendo hasn’t forgotten what’s elevated the franchise to where it stands today.
The story mode of the game will be familiar to anyone who has played the older Mario games, as well as the more recent New Mario games on the original Wii. Players can tackle the story solo, or be joined with friends. The Wii U GamePad is the controller of choice, as it doubles as a handheld that can be played on its own should a family member or friend want to watch TV. Also supported are older peripherals; those old wiimotes you have laying around will come in handy when you have friends over. A 5th player can even join in on the fun, via the new Boost Rush mode, which lets whoever is controlling the GamePad to place tiles, collect items, and smite enemies. While not as fun as controlling one of the playable characters, this is a nice addition and helps to immerse more people into the game.
The world map in Mario U is pretty big, and will take even the most dedicated players considerable time to clear everything. From branching paths to hidden areas, Mario U has exceptional replay value for players who want to collect every medal and complete the game 100%. The branching paths are great, as well, and is a simple way to place more control in the players hands.
Beyond the story mode, there are some new features that add a layer of freshness to New Super Mario Bros. U. There is a Challenge mode that has a number of different games, as well as the afore mentioned Boost Rush mode. The challenges vary from speed runs to how many coins you can collect whilst performing triple jumps. One thing that has put off some gamers in the past has been the relative ease of Mario games. While there are certainly some challenging levels in the story mode, the difficulty in the Challenges mode can be downright frustrating. Getting gold medals on speed runs will take multiple attempts, for instance. Fortunately, this added difficulty will satisfy many fans of the series who were hoping for a serious challenge.
One thing that is lacking is online co-op, which is pretty disappointing. It’s great to play with friends or family locally, but it’d be awesome to play with others via online co-op. Lacking this feature seems even more bewildering considering how basic it is in other games. By no means is this a game-breaking, but an oversight nonetheless.
In conclusion, New Super Mario Bros. U is one of the must-have games for Nintendo Wii U. The game has the nostalgia that will cater to fans of the series, as well as some new elements that help the title to shine. There are a couple minor bumps in the road, but as a whole this is an amazing game. Whether or not it’s on the same level as Super Mario 3 and Super Mario World is up to the individual, but the fact the game is even being mentioned with those all-time classics is an indication that Nintendo has once again hit a home run.
REVIEW – 9.5 / 10 – INCREDIBLE