If you’ve ever been a fan of Mario, then the words Super Mario World should immediately come to mind. Hailed as one of the best in the series, gamers have always wanted an experience that recreates that memory for many, and I am pleased to say that New Super Mario Bros Wii U goes a heck of the distance towards delivering on that. Mario is back, and he’s better than ever in HD.
You know the drill in terms of a story, Mario is hanging with the princess and the rest of his crew, when Bowser swoops in and just has to mess things up. A familiar story and in all honesty, that’s all this game needs. Just hurry up and kidnap the Princess Bowser so we can get straight into tracking you down and stomping on you 3 times!
The first and most noticeable change is the removal of the world by world map structure. Now, the world is referred to as the overworld, and essentially is like one huge map showing all 8 worlds on it at once. Essentially, it’s exactly like the Super Mario Brothers style map on the Super Nintendo to give you a comparative. On the overworld map, you’ll see warp pipes, enemies, secret areas, castles etc along with alternate paths that you must strive to unlock. It’s certainly great to see this design back as it always was my personal favourite, so Kudo’s to Nintendo.
With all previous Mario games in this genre, you can expect the first few levels difficulty to be easy so to speak. Yet this ends rather quickly as the difficulty for once really ramps up and you won’t be burning through this title in a mere few hours. As you progress there are more hidden secrets, new areas to explore as well as new power ups and enemies that know how to take you down pretty quickly, so there is somewhat of a tougher learning curve here for a change which is great to see.
There certainly is a wealth of ways that you can choose to go, with several junction points between worlds. Also, you’ll never really run out of lives given there is ample opportunity via the various mini games or sheer old school coin collecting to rack up free lives. However some levels can confiscate lives from you faster than your teacher confiscating a yoyo back in the day! Also, to test your patience, Star Coins are back, 3 per level and some are very well hidden. Collect enough of these for a big surprise no doubt. There’s plenty to see and do in New Super Mario Bros Wii U, and it’s certainly the best game to date in my opinion.
Next, in case you thought you actually got the single player mode beat is Challenge Mode. This mode is essentially focused on testing your speed and skill. You’re placed into various situations where you can for example only run and jump in an entire level without killing an enemy, or perhaps avoid touching the ground etc. There are many challenges that will see you driven to near controller smashing rage as some of the challenges are phenomenal. It’s definitely worth having a crack at if you want more of a challenge.
Graphics & Sound
New Super Mario Bros. U looks gorgeous in 1080p. But then again, so still does New Super Mario Bros on the Wii and that’s only in 480p. Given that Mario titles are extremely colourful games, this high fidelity of visuals is not really required if that makes any sense. Sure, you can see more sharpness in coin blocks, characters, back drops and even the grassy ledges, but it’s not Gears of War eye popping candy so to speak. It’s as gorgeous as its going to get and that’s ok with me. Nintendo has really improved the lighting and depth as well, plus the particle effects are great as well. The soundtrack is of course, classic Nintendo and the characters still pop and bop to the music which I just love.
Also, worth of mention is the Wii U controller and its graphical abilities. I really found the visuals on the handheld to appear to be on par with the console. The smaller screen obviously runs a lower resolution that 1080p but given its size, it looks equally as sharp. So much as to say, it ran near perfectly on the controller and many times I found myself retreating to the lounge room to play in comfort on the controller. It’s certainly a lag free experience and I can honestly say it looked and sounded great on the hand held controller. This is what I’ve always wanted, a 1 to 1 performance level equilibrium and finally no more inferior hand held versions.
Multiplayer is back again with the latest version, and yes you can now play with 5 players. That’s right, 4 can sport Wii remotes and the 5th player can take control of the tablet. Its Mario madness when you’re all on the screen at once and you’ll bounce off each other like balls in a mutliball session of pinball. It’s that chaotic. But it’s fun so as long as you don’t try to be too precise, you’ll enjoy playing with friends. Also, a handy addition was how the person holding the Wii U controller can actually touch the screen to create platforms for you to land on should you need a helping hand. Quite a clever idea I must say, and adds another dimension to the multiplayer mode.
Mario has been a game that I’ve grown up since the humble Nintendo Entertainment System and I’ve seen Mario evolve and try just about everything. New Super Mario Bros Wii U tries to restore some of that nostalgic feel while also not deviating too far from what it knows and does best. I’m ok with that, because it works. Even to this day, Mario Bros is still fun and hard. Those who think there is no challenge will be sorely mistaken. For nostalgia fans, this purchase is a no brainer and was probably part of your console purchase as it was for me. For others who are unsure, this is definitely the best plat forming title on the system and one that you won’t be disappointed in owning and playing. Mario is back, in HD, and it’s freaking awesome!