I haven’t played a 2D Mario since my parents brought home the original NES bundle with the PowerPad and three-game cartridge featuring World Class Track Meet, Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros in 1989. New Super Mario Bros. U tickles the proper nostalgia bones and is some of the toughest platforming I’ve done in decades. The amount of rust on my fingers caused more than a few deaths, but it seems out of touch that you can only save and continue from a hub area once. Lose all your lives in a tricky platforming section or come back after powering the system down and you may have to restart en entire area from scratch. I appreciate what NSMBU is going for here, but a checkpoint after each level would have been nice.
On the visual side, Mario and crew look great in HD. It’s nothing to write home about and I wasn’t particularly wowed or charmed by what I saw onscreen, but it didn’t look terrible by any means. More often than not, I found myself playing exclusively on the GamePad and its six-inch screen as opposed to my 42” Panasonic plasma. In single-player, the Wii U mirrors video output to the TV and GamePad, so I figured I might as well save a few bucks on my electric bill and play without my TV.
I haven’t checked out multiplayer yet, but NSMBU utilizes the GamePad for asymmetrical play, with whoever’s holding it placing blocks to reach otherwise inaccessible areas — and coins — for the Wii-mote–holding other players.
It’s an incredibly arcadey experience overall, so if you’re a solo player looking for a game with a ton of depth and meat to it you’ll have better luck elsewhere.
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