This value-packed platforming re-release has lost a little of its lustre.
Rather than setting the world alight like the fireworks above the Mushroom Kingdom, Nintendo’s underperforming Wii U console ultimately went up in the smoke of a Mushroom cloud. However, it at least attempted to get off on the right foot by launching in 2012 with a high quality 2D Mario game, New Super Mario Bros. U. Here’s what we thought at the time:
“Though [New Super Mario Bros. U] doesn’t necessarily redefine Nintendo’s iconic hero, it still manages to capture the sense of carefree adventure that many of us felt as kids. More importantly, the game contains a significant amount of challenge, both within its story mode and outside of it. This game has clearly been designed by a team that regards Super Mario World with as much affection as those of us who grew up with it. Were it not for the game’s weak graphics and audio, plus the return of the irritating chaotic, bouncy multiplayer mode, this game might rival some of Nintendo’s better 2D accomplishments.”
Read the full New Super Mario Bros. U review.
Similar to other Wii U releases such as Mario Kart 8, Nintendo has bundled New Super Mario Bros. U with its DLC, applied a few gameplay tweaks, and resurrected it on the Nintendo Switch in the form of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. While this new (New) game still retains a healthy amount of its Mario magic, it now finds itself on a console overflowing with high quality platformers, making it feel slightly less essential than it did seven years ago.
“[Toadette] isn’t saddled with the slippery inertia of Mario and Luigi.
Playable characters Mario, Luigi, and Yellow Toad are joined by Toadette and Nabbit (who was previously only playable in New Super Luigi U) in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, with the latter two providing a shake up beyond a simple cosmetic change. Toadette is effectively the embodiment of ‘easy mode’. She’s not saddled with the slippery inertia of Mario and Luigi, allowing her to make jumps between platforms with more precision, while in underwater levels she can be steered around in all directions without having to repeatedly tap a button in order to stay afloat. Additionally, all hidden 1-UP blocks become 3-UPs when discovered by Toadette, and during my run through the story mode using Toadette exclusively I hit the 99 lives limit well before I’d reached the climactic final castle battle.
Toadette’s most powerful ability is activated by the new Super Crown pickup, which transforms her, somewhat bizarrely, into a pigtailed Peachette. Peachette handles like a more maneuverable version of the existing Flying Squirrel ability, and allows you to shake the controller or tap a button in midair to launch her upwards. Not only does this give you the chance for a last ditch leap up to safety when you’re about to plummet down a hole, but it also means you can access many secret areas much more easily than you can with the other playable characters. In some cases the more elaborate uses of hidden blocks or vines can be skipped entirely with one fell Peachette swoop, and hard to reach Star coins can also be more easily snared – which is handy when you’re trying to mop them all up in order get a 100 per cent completion.
Toadette is a fun character to control and totally viable for use in single player.
While Toadette is a fun character to control and totally viable for use in single player, Nabbit’s migration from New Super Luigi U to the main game is less beneficial. This sack-schlepping bunny seems ideal for younger or otherwise inexperienced gamers, given that he’s invincible to enemies and projectiles making the traversal of most levels relatively obstacle-free. Since I have my five-year-old daughter serving as the most junior member of my household multiplayer quartet, I was personally all for Nabbit’s inclusion in the main game, at least in theory.
Yet in practice his inability to use pickups like Fire Flowers or Super Acorns gives him considerably less agency than the other characters, and since he’s still susceptible to falling down holes he’s neither particularly exciting to play nor completely infallible, which makes him a less than perfect option for youngsters than perhaps he could have been.
“[New Super Luigi U] successfully scratches the on-the-go itch that Super Mario Run did on mobile phones.
The included New Super Luigi U expansion offers an alternative story mode that remixes the levels from the main game, ditches Mario from the playable roster, and imbues Luigi with a more lunar-like leap and a slipperier pair of shoes. With every level shorter in length and set against a 100-second timer, the New Super Luigi U mode is perfectly suited for quick, mobile bursts with the Switch in handheld mode. The strict nature of the shortened clock puts you in a surging state of perpetual forward motion, which allows the mode to successfully scratch the on-the-go itch that Super Mario Run did on mobile phones a couple of years back (minus the constant need for an internet connection).
But despite the new characters, the inclusion of New Super Luigi U, and the return of the various extra challenge modes all making for a robust 2D platforming package with substantial replay value, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe still struggles to stand out among the crowd of its platforming peers on the Nintendo Switch in 2019. Rayman Legends is more fun with friends, Celeste and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze offer a fiercer challenge, and Super Mario Odyssey is a far more surprising and inventive Mario game. If you missed the Wii U original, then New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is still well worth a look, but it ultimately doesn’t bring enough major additions or improvements to elevate it above the pack and make it a must-have for returning players. (If you are one of those returning players who enjoyed the game’s co-op multiplayer, it’s worth pointing out that the touchscreen-based Boost Mode feature from the original release is absent here due to the differences in hardware setups between the Wii U and the Switch.)