Review by Dasendrix
It isn't so new, but everything in this game is great.
A new console has arrived on the shelves on November 18th. Along with it comes a launch line-up that is full of ports and just a few exclusives title. One of them is a traditional Mario game, New Super Mario Bros. U. In fact, we havent had a Mario game as a launch title since Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. Yes we had Luigis Mansion on the Gamecube, but its not a platformer game. Besides, Luigi was the star of the game, so Im excluding it (poor Luigi). So, what can we expect from this New title? Not much in the innovation department, but still a ton of fun that I havent seen in a while.
First of all, lets take a look at the presentation. It doesn't differ much from previous New title in the series, so anyone who has plays them before will be familiar with the graphics and the overall atmosphere. However, there were some stages where I immediately felt upon entering that it was special, unique. Those stages (I wont name them) were not as brightful as you would see in the others stages, and the textures were more detailed. It has a darker atmosphere than I thought a Mario game could have. If Nintendo want to make a Mario game that is darker and yet still appealing to a large audience, they could to go that way. That aside, its still colorful and detailed. The overworld map is amazing to watch and very well designed, the stages are very unique and it just keeps getting better. As for the music and sound effects, everything is top notch. The music is catchy and always fits with the kind of level that youre in. Go for a walk in the plains? The smooth music will be there. Enter that final castle of the area? Youll feel the tension of the moment with his darker notes. Sound effects are very well done and we even have some older sound effects coming back, like the fly sound effect of Mario Bros. 3 with the racoon suit. However, when playing with the GamePad for the boost mode, spamming those blocks tend to be annoying, as the sound effect isnt that good. Sure, no sound would probably be worst and boring, but it could have been a bit better. Also worthy of mentioning is when the player playing the boost mode in a multiplayer section manage to activate the star power, the volume of the TV gets drastically lower to let the star music from the gamepad plays louder. It is annoying, as I feel like it leaves an empty space. Besides those small negatives point, the presentation is very well done and it immediately brings you in the game.
As for gameplay elements, it does everything just right, even if it doesnt change the formula much. We still have the basics elements, such as jumping, running, shooting fire balls, destroying block, etc. The new thing in this game is the Acorn Suit that lets you transform in a flying squirrel. Simply put, the suit is cute. And its overpower. You can glide with it, have a double jump that lets you descend slower after (cant glide after) and hang on walls. We have the P version of the Acorn Suit, which gives you unlimited double jump, making it even more powerful, and there are small Ps of colors that appears behind you when you fly. But nothing compares to the come back of the Baby Yoshis. They are back, and fatter than before. Yes, they seems like they gained some weight, but its not really important. You can grab onto them, and theyll be in front of you, eating almost anything in its path, including projectiles. However, they wont grow up to an adult yoshi after eating a bit. Theyll stay in their baby form. Whats new though is that they have unique abilities depending on their color when you shake the controller or press L/R with the GamePad. Pink Yoshi will inflate and let you float in the air for a while. Blue Yoshi will spit bubbles out of his mouth and transform ennemies into coins or power-ups. You can also jump on those bubbles to go higher. Yellow Yoshi will glow for a while, helping you in the darker stages. Every Baby Yoshi except the yellow one will follow you out of the stage, providing you finish the stage with it. Yoshi (adult) also makes a come back, and like before, wont follow you after the stage is done. You can still eat ennemies with his tongue, but also apples. When eating 5 apples, Yoshi will poop an egg with an item inside. Yoshi also has his double jump ability from Super Mario World 2: Yoshis Island, helping you reach those hard-to-reach places. There isnt much new in this title in term of gameplay, but it does everything just right and everything has a justification.
When speaking of contents, however, it delivers. The story mode is what you would expect. Bowser arrives at Peachs Castle with his Koopa Kids in their airship, manages to throw out Mario and friends to the other side of the world and takes control of the Castle. Its up to Mario, Luigi and the 2 toads to save the princess once again. There are 8 worlds to go through, each with a different theme, like plains, desert, snowland, etc. The stages, like mentioned before, are unique and well designed, but also challenging. Sure the first 2-3 worlds are a breeze to run through, but as you get farther in the game, the stages gets more difficult in a nice curve. In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the game was really until the last world, where the difficulty sky-rocketed in a second. In this title, the difficulty goes up along with you in a nice way. You get better with every stage you finish and let you want to see whats next, what is the next challenge you want to accomplish. There are 3 star coins in each stage, as usual of the New series, and they can be difficult to obtain as some of them are very well hidden. Also worth mentioning is that there are multiple ending to some stages, leading to shortcuts or alternative stages on the overworld. This is a nice touch that just puts more depth to the game. Once you completed the game, it is easy to just replay it again, but there wont be much after, so its up to the player to either play again or just move on to another game. As for multiplayer mode, its the same as New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but with a 5th player controlling the stage, so to speak. If you thought it was chaotic before, you havent seen this. The 5th player uses the GamePad to puts blocks in the stage to either help or hinder the progression of the 4 others. He can also tap on ennemies using the touch screen to make them jump or stop their movement. When players land on his platforms a bunch of times, a Star will appear for the GamePad player to tap on. This will give him thw ability, to kill ennemies himself and even hit the bosses for a short period of time. He can also see hidden blocks that contains those special moons that give players 3-Up each. Those blocks are in hard to reach are, and the GamePad player must help the others to obtain them. There is also Boost Rush mode, where you do stages of the game that scroll forward automatically. As you collect coins, it will scroll faster. Your goal is to simply get to the end of the stage as fast as possible using this mechanic. There is also Challenges mode. This mode has multiple sections, including Time Attack, Coin Collection, 1-Up collection and Specials. In each of them you have multiple challenges where you have to meet certain goals to accomplish. They are very hard to accomplish, but very fun, and the feeling you get for achieving them is great. Overall, this title has lots to make you hang on to it for a while with his rather long story mode (can take around 10 hours on your first playthrough) and his challenges.
With everything said, the game has a fantastic presentation that lets the player immerse himself easily in the game, while not having much new things in his formula. The difficulty will keep the player wanting for more as they venture through the game and all of his hidden secrets will make the player want to search for them. It is a game worth buying, even at 60$, and is a strong launch game for the WiiU. This game gets my rating of 8.5, round up to 9 for rating purposes.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: New Super Mario Bros. U (US, 11/18/12)
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