The buzz surrounding New Super Mario Bros U started on Sunday 3 June during Satoru Iwata's Nintendo Direct broadcast, before Nintendo has even shown it off at E3 2012 a few days later. Why? Because, we caught a glimpse of what looked like a Super Mario World-style map screen. Could the new Mario game be New Super Mario World?
The speculation had, in fact, started even earlier when Nintendo blanked out a list of three launch games on the Wii U Facebook page. One commenter pointed out that Super Mario World 3 was 19 characters, the same length as one of the titles on the list. Could it be Super Mario World 3?
No. While those Miiverse messages on the map screen look exciting, from what we've played so far this is very much a New Super Mario Bros. Wii sequel with some added GamePad platform placing. And a Squirrel Suit.
Despite the title, this is definitely nothing new. Six years ago, when Nintendo released New Super Mario Bros, the first new 2D Mario game for 15 years, it was exciting to have a fresh take on the plumber's platforming classics. Is it still as exciting? Perhaps not. Is it still fun? Absolutely.
Especially when five players are getting in on the act - one on the GamePad placing platforms and the others leaping around the level. The GamePad player just needs to tap on the screen to make a platform appear and depending on how devious he or she is, they will help you out or have fun making life as difficult for you as possible.
Building A Platform
We can already see someone deliberately placing platforms over the entrances to pipes or block another player's path, causing them to be squashed by the screen only to return in a bubble which needs to be popped if they are to continue. But if you are nice, you'll kindly place a platform in a long gap between two rotating stars, enabling a mate to grab the big sparkly gold coin (these return from the original).
That is New Super Mario Bros U's major selling point at present. That and the new Squirrel suit which enables you to glide through the levels. As enjoyable as this is, you'd hope that this suit is not as prevalent as the Tanooki suit in Super Mario 3D Land as it could make things a little easy.
Undoubtedly it has come on a great deal since the New Super Mario Mii prototype we saw last year. New Super Mario U looks beautiful and seeing as Mario looks quite small - presumably a price to pay for fitting four players on screen - there's plenty of room for the gorgeous scenery to shine. And shine it does. Especially the third and final level in this demo which is set against a stunning starry night with big rotating stars for platforms.
Elsewhere, we're bouncing off mushrooms and floating on Yoshi balloons or rushing through a typical Mushroom Kingdom scene, complete with a rocky background straight out of, yes, Super Mario World.
So there are plenty of magic moments for Mario fans but at present it's not as innovative or as fast-moving as the excellent Rayman Legends. Still, we've only seen three levels and there may be much more to come. Remember that some people were underwhelmed by the Super Mario 3D Land demo.