Mario in high definition. That sounds like something Nintendo fans should be scrambling over each other to get their hands on. The issue is, with the release of "New Super Mario Bros. U" for the Wii U, this visual update is six years too late. Xbox and Playstation games have been wowing us visually for that time and in 2012, the "HD" angle is pretty, but old hat. So what else is new?
Well, for one, Mario is flung southwest from Princess Peach's castle at the start of the game, technically landing him in a new area of the Mushroom Kingdom. There are a handful of new baddies mixed with classic foes, with a new power-up or two to compliment the always-flawless level design. The stages are presented with an over-arching map that you can zoom in and out of, very much akin to the world map in "Super Mario World."
While there are some new elements at play, most of it equates to the same old platformer as far as gameplay is concerned. Some levels are indistinguishable from zones in previous "New Super Mario Bros." titles.
The Wii U's big new thing is the touch-screen GamePad controller, which is used most creatively in this game's co-op mode. Up to five players can partake in NSMBU at one time, four of those can be on-screen characters with use of Wiimote controllers, while an additional person plays as a sort of master level editor. The "master" can use the touch screen to drop platforms to save friends from falling from cliffs, stop moving obstacles in their tracks, retrieve characters from bubbles, unlock 1ups and even kill certain enemies with a touch of their finger.
Even with the assistance of the "master," cooperative gameplay quickly descends into chaos. Constant deaths quickly become the norm when four players are jumping from platform to platform at once. The touch screen additions and cooperative gameplay remain fun despite drawbacks and the game ends up being something you should definitely own if you already have a Wii U. However, it is not good enough to recommend buying a Wii U solely for.
Forget Mario's history and this game has everything: tight level design with challenging yet rewarding gameplay that takes you to exciting and colorful worlds. You'll have a lot of fun playing through it and certain parts will remain memorable for years to come. Remembering Mario's history will cause much of this game to blend together with "New Super Mario Bros." (2006), "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" (2009) and " New Super Mario Bros. 2" (2012). With the incredible potential of the GamePad, that's a shame.
"New Super Mario Bros. U" is available now for the Nintendo Wii U at a suggested retail price of $59.99
"New Super Mario Bros. U" is a little long for a game title, "Super Mario U" would have done just fine.
Add the flying squirrel suit and baby Yoshi balloons to ways that Mario can fly. We'll file that with super-cape feather, Yoshi wings, wing hat, raccoon tail, ghost and bee suits.
Check out our Wii U video review: