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Review: New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 by

new super mario bros u review
Mario finally enters the realm of High Definition in New Super Mario Bros. U, the most recent in a long lineage of Mushroom Kingdom platformers. So how does the new game stack up? Find out in our New Super Mario Bros. U review.

So here it is. Another Mario game. Riding hot off the heels of the last one with barely a span of three months separating them, Mario Bros. U may be arriving at a time when fans are coming down with a mean case of Mario fatigue. And that’s a shame, really, because Mario Bros. U is one of the coolest iterations in the series’ entire history, and probably the best reason to own a Wii U at the moment.

It’s a great family game. It’s a great multiplayer game in general. The chaos that ensues from having two or more players on screen at once is… well, let’s just say that it’s many things. It’s exciting. It’s hilarious. It’s full of apologies, curses, and high fives. It’s a cooperative twist to the traditional Mario formula, and the experience is augmented in totally new ways by the Wii U’s GamePad controller.

new super mario bros u gameplay screenshot van gogh

In single-player mode, the GamePad isn’t terribly special – it acts more or less like a traditional controller. In multiplayer, however, it becomes a tremendous support tool, allowing someone to play a more passive role by placing platforms to catch falling allies, or creating unnatural stairways to out-of-the-way places.

But that’s not all. Stages present a ton of unique opportunities for the GamePad player to interact in helpful ways – you can illuminate darkened areas with your finger tip, or smash frozen enemies and crumble skeletons by tapping on them. The amount of stuff you can do with the GamePad in this respect is staggering, and its inclusion is the most innovative turn for the series in many years.

new super mario bros u world mapClick map for full version

Mario Bros. U brings us back to the sort of singular map presentation we haven’t seen since Super Mario World, and in many ways reminds me more of that game than any other. Yoshi is back in traditional form, along with a new ensemble of baby Yoshis, with each color exhibiting its own special power. Seeing these old familiars revamped in HD is a real treat – Mario Bros. U utilizes just about every bit of Mario lore out there, and serves as a terrific homage to the series as a whole.

Of course, it’s a Mario game, so if you’ve ever played one before then don’t expect many surprises in Mario Bros. U. Many ideas and aesthetics are completely recycled, (oh, look, a desert world!) as are the plot (rescue the princess) and boss battles (yup. Bowser’s kids). Even much of the music is ripped from previous New Super Mario games. I’m guessing you already suspected as much, though, and if you’re a fan of the series, then you might very well prefer this kind of continuation.

super mario bros u 3

So, while the Mario experience has never played or looked better than it does with Mario Bros. U, it’s still very familiar stuff. The mechanics introduced by the GamePad breathe some fresh air into this series’ sails, but it may not be enough for the folks who’ve grown bored with Nintendo’s predictable “New” Super Mario Bros. formula.

For the people who wouldn’t have it any other way, though, New Super Mario Bros. U is the finest game the series has ever produced, and delivers more of that solid gameplay you’ve come to know, love, and rightly expect.

4 star

See New Super Mario Bros. U in action:

UPDATENew Super Mario Bros. U is now compatible with the Wii U Pro Controller thanks to a recent update.

About the Author

Mark A. Brooks uses the A. initial in his name so as to seperate himself from the teeming legions of other Mark Brookses (there are at least 65,000 in the state of Michigan alone). Keep up with him on twitter, because why not. @unoriginalG

Mark A. Brooks has written 614 posts on Delta Attack
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  • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Markham Asylum

    The similarities to Super Mario World are a large draw. Even the aesthetics… dat overworld…

    • http://deltaattack.com/ Mark A. Brooks

      Looking past the fog of nostalgia, I’d go so far as to say that Mario U is actually better than Super Mario World. The level design in U is surprisingly clever; Super Mario World had a lot big empty space by comparison.

      One thing that SMW did right, though, was give you those red dots to indicate when stages had secret exits. That would have been handy to have in Mario U.

      • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Markham Asylum

        That would indeed be handy. Although, to be fair, SMW didn’t always give you them, such as with ghost houses.