The lights are on
While I have enjoyed the New Mario series, I was not a huge fan. Yes it provided me with my platforming fun, but it seemed to miss something. I was not a fan of the single world maps, which has been around since Mario 3. While it worked in that game, after Super Mario World, I personally thought they were the easy way out. Also I usually thought the games were too easy unless you strived for every single Star Coin, which never really did it for me.
I, like many others, grew up with Mario. Among the great debate I believe that Super Mario World is the ruling champ of 2D Mario games, with Super Mario Bros 3 being second, as is typical of a lot of gamers. The good news is that with New Super Mario Bros. U, you will not have to worry about missing elements from either.
The first and most noticable change is they finally brought back the open world setup that came from Mario World. This works wonderfully and I can't understand why they waited so long to bring it back unless they knew that in the 4th New Mario game they would need to do something major. Hell for all we know they were planning this when the first one came out. This world is massive with tons of levels, and each world is hiding a secret level, which between those and the Superstar Road (again harkening back to Mario World) provide some of the most fun and challenging levels in the game.
Like other New Mario games, Star Coins are present here, three to each level including all of the hidden levels. You must collect every start coin in a world to open the corresponding level in the Superstar Road, so you better get searching cause it is worth it to play those levels. Also helps get more play time out of the game since it seemed like it didn't take all that long to get through it. Then again I played it for what seemed like 3-4 hours a day for a week, so who knows.
Another big thing about this game is it's the first time seeing Mario in HD. Honestly this did not impress me. Yes, the game looks amazing, but that's not any different than any previous New Mario games. They all looked good, all had the same art style, this time it's simply more detailed. Nothing special here in my opinion in terms of graphics, give me another 3D Mario game and we'll see how I feel.
Now as for individual level design they touch back to old school Mario by having flying fish and ship battles. Even the little music note boxes make a return in some levels. Also, there are levels that feature enemies that are unique to only those levels, which really impressed as you are used to seeing enemies repeatedly. One swimming level has you dodging a giant eel/dragon thing as it circles around you, while another hidden level has you swimming for your life while being chased by a fat purplish fish. Another that comes to mind are mini goombas that are featured in a lava level. They don't kill, just stick to you and weigh you down.
For those of you like me who felt that the New Mario series was a tad too easy, never fear. As you progress the levels get increasingly difficult and challenging, as well as more creative and entertaining. About 3/4s through I stopped accumulating lives and started slowly losing them. At which time I smiled with happiness thinking “about damn time.” Also some of the Superstar levels are particularly hair-pulling disasters clearly created by evil people. Thank you evil people because it always feels like an achievement getting through those.
Whether a Mario veteran or a new comer, everybody will find things to enjoy here. You will find amazing and unique level design, the always tight gameplay, and plenty of extras. Also if you like an extra challenge, they included a challenge mode, which I did not spend much time in. Here you will find different things like sprinting through the level or completing it in the squirrel suit without touching the ground. While these were fun, you earn nothing other than medals. Not to mention the multiplayer, which honestly I never touched, but I know a lot of people enjoy this feature in these games. Simply put, if you get a Wii U and not get this game, you’re missing out on the best launch game.
I give this game 9 sad goombas out of 10. I would give it higher, but considering this is the highest profile launch game, I’m disappointed that there is nothing on it that couldn’t have been done on the Wii. They made no use of the touchscreen other than as a keyboard. Come on Nintendo, I know you can do better.
Great review. "I stopped accumulating lives and started losing them." Nice line and makes me even more excited to pick up my wii u.