The Wii U simply wouldn?t be a Nintendo console if there wasn?t a Mario Brother or two to help sell it. Over the years, Super Mario launch games have been used specifically to highlight the key selling points of a new home console.
Whether it?s Super Mario 64
?s leap into 3D or Luigi?s Mansion?s
emphasis on lighting and added technical wizardry. That?s not strictly the case with New Super Mario Bros. U
Sure, it highlights the platform?s unique GamePad tablet controller in multiple ways, but as a direct sequel to New Super Mario Bros. Wii
, this flagship Mario
title feels more like an evolution instead of a revolution. That?s kind of the takeaway with a lot of the titles I?ve played on Wii U - the same games you?ve seen before, expanded with a little bit of touchscreen control and AR.
That?s not to say that New Super Mario Bros. U
isn?t fun. Boy, is it fun! Just like its predecessor, the game is a 2D multiplayer platformer - up to four players can grab a Wii Remote and assume the role of Mario, Luigi and two Toad characters at the same time for simultaneous co-op (or competitive) play.
Some new features in this game include an array of precarious level gimmicks - a snow stage played host to some large spinning stars, which required careful timing in order to overcome - and a brand new Wombat suit. If you get this, your character will acquire a funny looking cape (which will make them look like a vampire on foot) that can make you soar with a simple spin jump. Like similar air-based power-ups, you can use the Wombat suit to glide as well.
You can also pick up Baby Yoshis throughout the level and carry them around with you. The benefit to doing this? You can make it expand like a massive balloon and float upwards, with spin jumps helping you to stay in the air for longer. Baby Yoshis will also gobble up any enemy that walks into your path, which is quite handy as the stages I played in New Super Mario Bros. U
are pretty tough to say the least.
Don?t fret though - I asked about regular, adult Yoshis and was told that they will be present in the full game too. Just imagine four players bouncing about on screen, all on Yoshi-back. Madness. But, the biggest addition to the New Super Mario Bros.
experience is in the Wii U?s GamePad.
A fifth player can wield the mighty tablet and see everything that?s happening on the TV screen. But, you can also interact with your fellow platformers indirectly, by using the touchscreen to place blocks within the level. The general aim is to help your friends by helping them get across bottomless pits or obtain that out-of-reach Star Coin - hence why it?s called Assist Mode.
But, it could just as easily be called Adick Mode, as I quickly discovered that the GamePad user has the power to hinder as well as help the other players. Sticking blocks in front of running characters, establishing an artificial roof to stop one from hitting that coin block, setting up for a pit drop... the possibilities are endless. You can?t place blocks on top of other players, and once placed a block will stay there for a brief period of time - unless another player smacks into the side of it, then it just disappears.
The best thing about the GamePad though, is that if you?re just playing on your own, you can begin a game on the tablet and continue playing it on the controller while other people use the TV. The game looks great on the small screen, with a decent enough resolution that is slightly fuzzier than the image you see on the TV, but still quite entrancing. The GamePad feels very good in your hands as well - I may just play it on the GamePad on its own just because it feels so good.
In a nutshell, New Super Mario Bros. U
isn?t going to be the game that will force you to jump up and buy Nintendo?s upcoming console. But, it will be a great piece of companion software, and promises to be a lot of fun with your mates.