- Developer: Nintendo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: 11/1/2019
- Price: £49.99 / $59.99
- Review Code provided by Nintendo
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
As Nintendo themselves stated when the Wii U launched in November 2013 – ‘Learning how to make HD games has been a real learning curve and a lot more work than we were expecting’ or essentially words to that meaning.
Do you know what else launched on the very same day? Yeah, that’s right, Nintendo Land!
Also, SMBUD, which right out of the gates, looks a little dated and what can you expect from the title that was essentially Nintendo’s first foray into HD gaming. This is pretty much what they cut their teeth on and, compared to the more modern offerings, such as the wonderfully exuberant Monster Boy or even some of Nintendo’s offerings- Kirby Star Allies, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze and even Super Smash Bros, it’s showing its age a bit.
Other than that, and the fact that it carries a full retail price for a 6-year-old rehashing of a product, albeit it with all the DLC included, there isn’t much in the way of negativity to say about this aged gem. So without further ado and certainly no more circumstance, let’s focus on what makes this title such a masterclass in 2D platforming.
Please come to the castle, I’ve baked a cake..
As the princess of the mushroom kingdom sits down for a spot of afternoon tea; esteemed guests of Odyssey and Mansion fame respectively both present, along with a whole harem of mushroom kingdom attendants – the humble Toad, in typical fashion things are about to take a turn for the worse.
Bowser, his Son Jr and all of the Koopa kids; Larry, Lemmy, Iggy, Wendy, Morton, Roy and Ludwig (all of whom are incidentally named after musicians from a whole plethora of musical backgrounds) in typical fashion show up, kidnap the princess and blast the heroes of the mushroom kingdom far away. All of this before the cake that Peach promised at the beginning of Mario 64 was even brought out in all its pomp and splendour…
Once the game gets underway, it’s business as usual for our moustached MVPs. Before you’ve had a chance to say, ‘seriously Bowser? Again?’ You’ll be stomping Goombas, throwing turtle shells and chomping on mushrooms with the best of them.
Every level contains three special coins which only show their true value after completing the main game and it wouldn’t be a 2D Mario title without an abundance of secrets – whether as little hideaways within the levels or whole new exits to the level which open up alternate paths.
The measure of any Mario game is the plethora and performance of power-ups. NSMBUDX has an abundance of offerings. New abilities such as the squirrel suit allow our most familiar of heroes to explore these worlds in entirely new ways, whereas returning favourites like the trusty helicopter hat and the penguin suit offers some form of familiarity in this most exuberant of game series.
I’ve touched upon the visuals and how they aren’t quite as cutting, even for a cartoon aesthetic as they could be. The audio direction is however top-notch and as is tradition with the New branded series of Mario games, enemies bop to the rhythm of the jovial beats, even slightly breaking down the 4th wall somewhat by looking at the camera during certain moments in the melodies. It all adds just another layer of charm to what already is an utterly enrapturing adventure.
Some of the ideas are a little overused and at times it does show its age, however, there’s no denying that the interactive overworld map is bubbling with charm.
Luigi, U there??
As well as all of the base content there is also, of course, the proposition of the Luigi U DLC to tackle here. Originally released in 2013, as part of The Year of Luigi celebrations, this DLC in its purest form is a formidable foe and not for the faint of heart. Every level starts with the timer reaching 99 seconds and the infamous musical shift to fast-paced and frantic ensured that every level starts with you on the edge of your proverbial pew. On top of that Luigi controls very differently from his slightly portly brother. His controls feel a lot more slippery and his jump is somewhat akin to Yoshi’s in that he has a slight flutter available after the duration of the initial leap. As if all this wasn’t enough to make you rethink your game plan, despite the overworld being identical to Mario’s map, the levels themselves have been built from the ground up and offer a different kind of challenge, requiring an altogether different approach.
If all that sounds too crazed you have the option to play as Nabbit, the nefarious purple bunny who can be found stealing items from Toad in the base game. Nabbit is essentially the character built for accessibility. Not only can he not take damage or pick up items and augment his abilities, but he also can literally run straight through enemies, meaning that it’s entirely possible to simply run through levels as this most peculiar of creatures.
As well as Very Easy mode (The aforementioned Nabbit) there is also a simply Easy mode in which you play as a character making her debut in the series – Toadette of Captain Toad game.
Toadette for the record can take damage, can wield a fire flower like an absolute boss, as well as being as cute as a button.
Toadette’s jump isn’t great but upon finding and then wearing a Super Crown she transforms into the somewhat disconcerting Peachette, a character that bears all the hallmarks of the perpetually kidnapped Princess Peach. You can also play as Toadette in the base game.
Alternate characters and change of pacing aside, my absolute favourite thing about New Luigi U is the whole raft of little Easter eggs, homages to the Great Green man himself scattered throughout this adventure. Finding a little pixelated Luigi in a seemingly random or even secret area is just one of those wonderful moments in life, like the 1st coffee of the day, a family cuddle, or a day off with no chores!!
On top of the platforming goodies distributed through the Mario and Luigi levels, there are also the bewilderingly challenging, aptly titled Challenge mode offering to contend with. The aim of the game here is to complete certain predetermined tasks as quickly as possible. These range from reaching the flagpole, not collecting any coins, jumping on all of the enemies or hitting a chain of combos to collect as many 1-Ups as possible. They’re all addictive, frustrating and rewarding in equal measure and you’ll find yourself saying ‘just one more try’ until you either achieve a gold medal or cry yourself to sleep. I often did the latter.
In challenge mode, you can also play as your own Mii characters which adds a certain level of charm to proceedings and it’s certainly quite something to see a cartoon avatar based on your own likeness triple jumping their way to glory.
2D Mario and local multiplayer go hand in hand. Local multiplayer and the Nintendo Switch go hand in hand. I think we all see where this is going.
Thanks to the versatility of the Nintendo Switch, playing New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe in multiplayer is an absolute doddle. Simply detach the Joy Cons, hand one to a friend and prepare for hours of unadulterated fun.
I played a lot of this title with my significantly better half and we had genuine laugh out loud moments as we revisited the Mushroom Kingdom, performing perilous platforming pirouettes along the way. I’m not ashamed to admit she saved my hide on numerous occasions and reminded me just how difficult this game gets later on, especially the end game content.
When NSMBUD was originally announced I was honestly sceptical. Why would I want to pay full price for a 6-year-old game that I’ve already dedicated hundreds of hours to? The answer came to me within moments of loading up this game. NSMBUD is beguiling at the best of times and in much the same way as Super Mario Bros 3 or Super Mario World, offers near-perfect platforming, even after 6 years that have possibly left it looking a little tired and haggard, NSMBUD is still an absolute blast to play and a real reminder of why Nintendo are the kings of the 2D platforming scene.
Aside from some of the levels I made in Super Mario Maker, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the pinnacle of HD 2D Mario platforming.