The classic plumber returns in this installment of 2D platforming with a beautiful high definition overhaul. While the game has many assets it still fails to feel like a radical change from the previous entry. All the way up to Super Mario World each game had a large change implemented in it from the mechanics of how Mario moves to the sprite work and level design. Even without these large changes this entry builds off and polishes the New Super Mario Bros. franchise to near perfection.
The best part of playing a Mario game is knowing how easy it is to pick up and play. No stranger to intuitive controls the game’s fluid options give players the tools to zip through levels or challenge themselves finding gold tokens and playing the newly added challenge modes. A newly added control option is the boost mode which allows a 5th player or someone controlling the gamepad to create platforms helping those on screen. There are two new primary modes the challenges section and boost rush. When I was playing in the challenge mode I found myself among some of the hardest Mario levels created (excluding Mario Maker and hacks of course.) Boost mode is comparable to New Super Mario Bros. 2’s coin rush as it features auto scrolling levels focused on the screen moving faster. Skill is removed when considering accessibility of this game because there is something here for all levels of players.
Of course, what would Mario be without its estimable, vigorous, spectacular eight worlds. From soaring across acorn plains with the newly added flying squirrel power up, to sliding and slipping across frozen glaciers complimented by constellation and a wondrous aurora, the game’s levels are dynamic and sensational. Even though they look wonderful there is more to be said to how they play. I could feel a unique gameplay style emerge with each world I reached within the game. An example of this can be seen how the dessert stages are centered around sand pulling Mario to his loss; this change forces the player to focus on jumping over sand instead of sprinting through courses like the first world. Throughout each world there will be unique twists to how you play the game keeping each world fresh in artistic style, level design, and gameplay.
What was once introduced in the original New Super Mario Bros. returns more polished than before; the 4-player local multiplayer. Colliding with friends, dashing across levels, and cooperating for clever shortcuts has been some of the most fun I have had in Mario, but with that said this doesn’t come without a cost. Level design has taken a hit from multiplayer being implemented, once tight levels have become more open since the original New Super Mario Bros; this caused the game to be focused around local multiplayer setting aside single play enjoyment. Initially I was never a fan of this, but New Super Mario Bros. U addresses this issue polishing the levels and making it an enjoyable experience for both single and multiplayer.
Music is as enjoyable as ever before fitting the theme of each course and world. Underwater music sounds bubbly and floaty like how Mario is controlled while Bowser’s final world sounds menacing and imposing as you would expect from lava filled courses. Although the music fits well within the levels the pieces are simple and in some instances, forgettable.
Mario has never looked better before in this HD rendition. Even though the visuals are primarily replicas of the older New Super Mario Bros. it still looks very good. The over world is new however, a fantastic return from the classic game Super Mario World. When the map is viewed, it looks astonishing moving from world to world and it feels cohesive at the same time.
There are more additions in the game aside from the fantastic new modes. Some of these changes are baby yoshis. They add a new element to New Super Mario Bros, when they are held each can be used to perform a unique move specific to their color. For example, the pink Yoshi would inflate like a hot air balloon launching high above the level with Mario, but when I had the golden yoshi in a dark course he would light the way and his action would briefly light up the entire screen. Items change as well. The penguin and helicopter suit are missing from campaign levels and the flying squirrel suit has been added. I don’t agree with the removal of these two items as I enjoyed the diversity they allowed in game. I enjoyed the flying squirrel suit, but it reminded me too much of the cape and raccoon Mario and I would have preferred a more radical idea like the penguin and helicopter suit once did.
Overall, New Super Mario Bros. U has refined the New Super Mario Bros. franchise polishing and bringing the pinnacle of New Super Mario Bros. The astounding local multiplayer allows for engaging experiences while the clever level design provides comfortable courses for single player. The mushroom kingdom looks gorgeous in HD for the first time and although the art style is a replica of previous games the addition of a versatile interconnected over world is a new treat to gaze upon. Designed for every player, New Super Mario Bros U has a difficulty and mode for everyone. This game provides a great Mario installment that may become forgotten as another New Super Mario Bros game, but it is sure to be a great play to all those who picks it up.