Nintendo / Nintendo EAD
Nintendo Switch, Wii U (Switch version reviewed)
Up next, then, is the series that kickstarted Nintendo’s home console success in the first place, Super Mario Bros. More specifically, a port of the Wii U’s offering, New Super Mario Bros U.
This Deluxe version pairs the main game with its Luigi-based DLC, adds a couple of new playable characters, and chucks in a resolution boost from 720p to 1080p for good measure. This makes it the definitive version of the game, but there are a couple of caveats in there.
As it was a Wii U launch game, there are countless reviews of New Super Mario Bros U already online, so I’ll spare you the deep dive into how it generally plays.
Long story short, it follows on from the previous New Super Mario Bros games on DS, Wii and 3DS by offering a similarly polygonal 2.5D visual style and typically fantastic level design.
Much like the other games in the series, every single stage in NSMBU introduces a new enemy, idea or gameplay mechanic you haven’t yet encountered, meaning no two levels feel too similar. This ensures you’re still seeing new stuff even as you approach the game’s latter areas.
New power-ups (well, new at the time) arrive in the shape of a Squirrel Suit – which lets you slowly float downwards at an angle, soar upwards into the sky and cling to walls – and special baby Yoshis which can be carried and shaken to activate special abilities (like shining lights or blowing bubbles).
Essentially, if you’ve already played another New Super Mario Bros game, you’ll more or less know what to expect here. It’s safe (some would say too safe at this point) but you at least know you’re getting quality.
What’s new this time, then? Well, the major addition is the arrival of two new playable characters joining Mario, Luigi and Toad: Nabbit and Toadette.
Nabbit originally made its debut as a bad guy in the Wii U version of the game, turning up every now and then to nick a Toad’s power-up, forcing you to chase it through a level to get it back.
In this Switch version Nabbit is on the home team, and acts as the super-easy mode for younger players who may be struggling with the game. It can happily stroll through enemies without taking the slightest damage, and while it can still die by falling down holes or running out of time the game’s still made significantly easier by the lack of other hazards.
Nabbit’s other quirk is that it can’t make use of any power-ups: instead, it stores them in its sack and, when you reach the end of the stage, it takes them out and awards you a 1-Up for each one you’ve collected. As a result, you’ll be swimming in lives in no time.
Speaking of swimming (I know, I’m good), Nabbit also controls differently underwater. Rather than the usual ‘press jump to bob’ mechanics that have been present ever since the first Super Mario Bros, instead you simply hold a direction and Nabbit swims that way (much like using a Frog Suit or Penguin Suit).
If you’ve got any gaming experience whatsoever, Nabbit isn’t really that fun to use because there’s almost no challenge and many of the game’s hidden secrets can’t be reached since you aren’t able to use power-ups.
However, that doesn’t matter: Nabbit isn’t aimed at you. It’s aimed at young kids who may want to play the game (or play co-op with a parent or older sibling), and so anyone who has an issue with its existence is basically saying they would happily punch a child in the throat. Probably.
The other new character is of greater interest to veterans: Toadette brings her own skill set to the table, and even though the game’s easier as a result – the game even says ‘Easy’ under her name when you’re choosing a character – you aren’t punished for it and can unlock everything in the game using her.
Toadette has a number of the benefits Nabbit does. Like Nabbit, she can swim easily underwater by just holding down a direction. She also gets an extra 100 seconds on the timer, as Nabbit does.
However, she can also use power-ups, meaning if you want to throw fireballs, lob iceballs, go tiny, use a propeller to fling yourself into the air or simply make use of that ‘new’ squirrel suit you most certainly can.
The latter may be a bit redundant, though, because Toadette has her own unique power-up, the Super Crown. Collecting this will turn her into Peachette, who brings with her the power to float and zip up into the air (she’s basically identical to the squirrel suit). Fall into a hole while in Peachette form and you’ll also get a boost back into the air.
To all intents and purposes, this is really just a way to include Peach as a playable character, what with her already being kidnapped and all. But the extra abilities – even though they make the game easier – are still fun, and I’ve had a blast playing through the entire game as her (I challenge you to try rescuing Peach as Peachette).
Hardened platformer fans may be starting to get worried with all this chat about making the game easier. Fret not, though: if you didn’t play this on Wii U and weren’t already aware, NSMBU (in this form at least) is the trickiest game in the New Super Mario Bros series.
That’s down to two main reasons. The first is the inclusion of New Super Luigi U. This was DLC created for the Wii U game to celebrate the Year of Luigi, and is essentially a brand new game.
While it uses the same world map as that of the main game, it replaces every stage with an entirely new, and far more difficult one. You only get 100 seconds on the timer, the levels are much trickier to navigate and Luigi’s trademark high jump and slippery movement (which aren’t in the main game) are present here.
If you like the idea of this but are worried it may be too much for you, you do also have the option to play through this mode as Toadette, making it a little more accessible for the less masochistic gamer.
The other thing that will appeal to experts is the brilliant Challenges mode, which gives you a bunch of short but extremely difficult missions, each with their own requirements for completion.
They’re split into four main categories – time attacks, coin collection, 1-Up rallies and ‘special’ – and have you doing all sorts of things, from speedrunning levels, to beating them without missing a single coin, to trying to get from one end of a stage to the other without touching the floor.
These start off hard and only get more nail-bitingly infuriating as you unlock more, and should keep even the most dedicated platformer fan busy for a while.
There’s only really one thing missing from this package, and it’s down to the nature of the Switch itself. The Wii U had a special mode that let one person play the game on TV while another person drew platforms for them on the Wii U Game Pad.
Since the Switch is strictly a single-screen device, that means this feature – and the related Challenges that go with it – are gone. A bit of a shame, since they were fun, but their absence is understandable and at least there’s still the four-player multiplayer mode, which is far more entertaining anyway.
FOOTAGE FROM MY EARLIER PREVIEW:
So, that all said, should you buy New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe? Well, as boring as this answer sounds, it really depends on whether you played the Wii U version and how roundly you think you’ve rinsed it.
If you bought it (and the DLC) before, completed it and got your money’s worth then the addition of a couple of extra characters really won’t be enough to justify a double-dip, especially since it’s back up to full price rather than the budget Nintendo Selects price the Wii U version currently enjoys.
If you never owned a Wii U and this is going to be the first time you play the game then yes, by all means, you should get it. It’s a fantastic 2D Mario game that does its best to appeal to players of all skill levels, from outright beginners (thanks to Nabbit) to grizzled veterans (New Super Luigi U, the Challenges mode).
Sure, you could argue that it’s a bit cheeky to sell the Switch version for £49.99 given that the Wii U version is now £19.99, and that’s a completely valid point. But if you don’t own a Wii U already, it’s also a bit of a moot one: good luck finding the console for £30.
Your own personal opinion on the cost aside, anyone happy enough to drop full price on it will still certainly get their money’s worth. With two full adventures packed with secrets, a brilliantly difficult Challenges mode and thoroughly entertaining multiplayer, it’ll take you ages to see everything on offer here. It may not be ‘New’, but it’s certainly ‘Super’.
In order that I could write this review, I received a digital copy of the game from Nintendo. The content of my review and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.
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