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New Super Mario Bros U review

Thank you, Mario, but our princess is in a higher definition!

The worst bit about New Super Mario Bros U? The title. Specifically, the 'new' bit. All games are 'new', sticking it on the box makes it look like you've something to hide, as if the game can't convince of newness by quality alone. It's the kind of 'new' that gets wheeled out in toothpaste and washing up liquid adverts: all-new formula! Now with 23 per cent added jumping! Mario deserves better. He isn't a toothpaste or washing up liquid. For starters, the D-Pad leaves your fingers way more calloused than Fairy Liquid ever would.

New Super Mario Bros U certainly lures you in with the zesty whiff of novelty. Instead of the usual Peachnapping, Mario is thrown from the Princess's castle and has to trek back for the final encounter. Yes, after 27 years, the Princess isn't in another castle.

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Problem is, the castle sits on the other side of a massive landmass, the kind last seen in Super Mario World. Zooming out gives glimpses of tantalising areas to come and evokes a complete package beyond the self-contained grassy/desert/ice world tropes of past New Super Mario Bros. games.

Despite the echo of World, the launching point is still very much Super Mario Bros. 3. Influences are felt in the Toad Houses, Koopa Kid castles, Battleships and enemies dotted around the map.

Bumping into patrolling goons dumps Mario in an arena deathmatch. Instead of grabbing Toad tokens (as on Wii) Mario bashes enemies to win bonus items, which are then stored and can be triggered before a level run of your choice. So far, so New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Tunnel vision

Look deeper and the map's newness proves deceptive. Exotically named levels disguise the same World X-X we've played since 1985. Acorn Plains is your typical grassy opener and its second stage, 'Tilted Tunnels', reheats the shifting tunnels of Wii's World 1-2. Layer Cake Desert is just NSMBW's desert world superimposed on a desktop wallpaper of a massive cake. All of NSMBU's themed worlds exist in the background. Foregrounds - the bit you actually play - are achingly familiar.

Odd stretches are blow-by-blow retellings of its predecessor. The third stage of the second world is another trip through a dark Fire Snake-lit cavern. Weight-sensitive platforms bob through another bubbling purple swamp. When we found ourselves jumping over Brambells in another jungle and running under falling icicles in another snow cave, we ejected the disc to confirm it was the Wii U game in the slot.

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If idea recycling seems stingy in the aftermath of Mario Galaxy's big bang of innovation, you can at least trust Nintendo to wring out the last drops of fun. We've climbed Para-Beetles before, but never around a barrage of screen-wide Bullet Bills. And weight-sensitive platforms and tilt-controlled elevators still tickle us with their rub-your-tummy/pat-your-head multitasking. Even the Ghost Houses get tasty renovations, thanks to befuddling P-Block antics.

Power-ups don't teach our old dog new tricks as much as show off old ones practised to perfection. Ice Flowers appear in vast volumes, encouraging Mario to engage his wildest Demolition Man fantasy as he goes on body-shattering rampages. Mini Mario's water-running routine ekes out racing lines invisible to normal sized eyes and even though the Penguin Suit gets a tiny airing, it again turns innocuous slopes into eyelid-flapping speed chutes.

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Comments

22 comments so far...
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  1. Ai64 Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 15:44

    Still looks charming and fun to play and better in HD. Classic mario platforming. Quite recommanded. :)

  2. Pyron12 Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 16:13

    I want to know why this gets a lower score than NSMB2

  3. epiclink Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 16:17

    The level with the moon in the background is from starry sky by Vincent Van Gogh.

  4. JoeOdranDoran Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 16:23

    I guess my problem with Mario is that, while all his games are solid, I haven't been excited by any of them since 2007, when Galaxy came out. That's five whole years.

  5. MatthewONM Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 16:30

    I want to know why this gets a lower score than NSMB2


    Like we've said before, with the redesign we've taken a fresh look at how we score games. We felt there was a little bit of score inflation and wanted to reset things. We're not saying the past scores are wrong, just that our new scores are maybe a little tougher. I think NSMBU is the best NSMB game, but I didn't review the other ones for the mag. Different people, different opinions.

  6. benandarchie Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 17:54

    Less than NSMB2!! NSMB2 was nowhere near as good. It seems you have become stricter since then.

  7. JAYMCK2103 Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 18:05

    Has anybody saw that Nintendo tvii is coming to the UK!!!!! It says so on the wii u website :D

  8. thenintendoer Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 18:30

    it does look quite good so i may consider picking it up but i hope its the last in the new mario series as to be honest their not very innovative and lack the imagination of the 3d and older 2d mario games

  9. MewtwoLegend Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 19:24

    it does look quite good so i may consider picking it up but i hope its the last in the new mario series as to be honest their not very innovative and lack the imagination of the 3d and older 2d mario games

    don't worry. You won't be seeing another New Super Mario Bros game until the next handheld and home console systems arrive, I'm certain of that. The New Super Mario Bros games are just a once every console and handheld generation thing just like the likes of Mario Kart and Smash Bros. They just want to give the Wii U a sales boost knowing how popular it is.

    I will find it quite hypocritical if in like 6 or 7 years time another New Super Mario Bros game comes along and people start whining again that Nintendo is milking it and that it is Nintendo's Call of duty or something. Because that just wouldn't make sense.

    Anyway, I think the games are pretty fun for a while so if I get the Wii U someday and there is nothing much released at the time. I'll pick it up.

  10. 3DSRulesO.K Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 19:25

    I want to know why this gets a lower score than NSMB2


    Like we've said before, with the redesign we've taken a fresh look at how we score games. We felt there was a little bit of score inflation and wanted to reset things. We're not saying the past scores are wrong, just that our new scores are maybe a little tougher. I think NSMBU is the best NSMB game, but I didn't review the other ones for the mag. Different people, different opinions.


    So you've changed the scoring system, but not the previous scores, that will lead to confusion.

  11. CraigEmberson Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 20:59

    Isn't Matthew the guy who usually reviews darker games? or more indie games? Seems like there's some psychological "People think we only give Nintendo games higher scores, so let's be a lot tougher on Nintendo games specificually". I played some of this and I enjoyed it a lot more than NSMB Wii and NSMB2.

  12. adamatsu Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 21:00

    well done on deflating your scoring system, it was ridiculous before! seems like a fair score to me, the NSMB series in general definitely misses of the magic of the originals...i thought this might be the first NSMB game to reach the joyful effortless creativity of smb3 and smw, but alas not...

  13. MartinIsAwesome Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 23:07

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't think I've had more fun on the Wii than with co-op multiplayer Mario and Luigi action with my brother. I'm so looking forward to New Super Mario Bros. U creating even more super fun times for me and my very own Luigi.

  14. 5OUNDWAVE Monday 26th Nov 2012 at 23:34

    multi-player isn't for me , the challenge's sound great , of the 4 game's i'm getting this will be the 1ST one that go's into the console

  15. toffeeman30 Tuesday 27th Nov 2012 at 07:51

    im still kinda happy that super mario world is the best

  16. imbusydoctorwho Tuesday 27th Nov 2012 at 10:29

    Looks a lot better than previous NSMB games,so I might get it.

  17. gabrieljrc1 Monday 3rd Dec 2012 at 17:22

    I'm looking forward to purchasing New Super Mario Bros. U soon! Looks really good! :D :D :D :D :D :D

  18. Johny G Friday 14th Dec 2012 at 12:16

    Best game on the Wii U. It deserved a Gold Award and should have got 95%

    Mario No 1.

  19. zelda-legend93 Wednesday 26th Dec 2012 at 12:50

    I want to know why this gets a lower score than NSMB2


    Like we've said before, with the redesign we've taken a fresh look at how we score games. We felt there was a little bit of score inflation and wanted to reset things. We're not saying the past scores are wrong, just that our new scores are maybe a little tougher. I think NSMBU is the best NSMB game, but I didn't review the other ones for the mag. Different people, different opinions.

    I'm glad you've changed your scoring system. It got a little tedious when near enough every major Nintendo game to come out received a gold award. 'New Mario platformer? Let's slap a gold award on it!'

  20. KH81314 Friday 11th Jan 2013 at 14:54

    Nintendo aren't adding enough stuff to 2D Mario games. The HD visuals are nice but it feels like a extra pair of levels of the first one.

  21. wilfrefanguy Monday 11th Mar 2013 at 11:22

    This may sound weird because we get mario games all the time but i really want this game it looks really good

  22. gamemaster123 Tuesday 30th Apr 2013 at 17:39

    :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D dont know what to say.. mabey :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

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