New Super Mario Bros. U review
The New Super Mario Bros. series has received criticism for being conservative and unimaginative, this is exacerbated with the fact Mario is usually associated for being the opposite. A heavily reliance on nostalgia, same generic music or the over simplistic art style are the major contributors. Since New Super Mario Bros. U is the first game I have played from the series, so these will be less of a problem. But since this is my first time, I have high expectation that the fat Italian plumber will deliver an incredible game.
I find it quite ironic that story mode has very little story contain inside. Nintendo does not take the story in Mario games seriously, and you shouldnt too. Lets face the facts, we all know Princess Peach will be kidnapped again and it is up to Mario to save the damsel in distress. Its a classic setup and it wouldnt be a Mario game without it.
In regards to presentation and visuals, New Super Mario Bros. U plays it safe, but it plays it too safe. The art direction for the most part is bland. Stages look too blocky and lack a degree of uniqueness. I would rather have Nintendo abandon the retro art style and develop a modern look for the New series.
The game isnt terribly bad looking; on the contrary the game looks fantastic. Particularly the backgrounds are amazing. Nintendo cleverly layered the background, so it isnt just a bland picture following the action. My favourites include a course inspired by Van Goughs Starry night and traversing through the Meringue clouds is so exhilarating purely because of the eye candy. Sadly, I just wished Nintendo applied a little more effort to lift the visuals of the games.
Nintendo has developed an unhealthy habit of recycling music. I noticed this in Super Mario 3D Land and it is present in New Super Mario Bros. U. Around 5 -6 tracks are used throughout the 10 hour story mode, although fun and quirky the amusement quickly teeters. It comes off lazy when you considering Super Mario Galaxy boasts an incredible soundtrack.
Whether you like it or not, most aspects of a Mario games play second fiddle to the gameplay. New Super Mario Bros. U is no different. Fortunately the gameplay is where NSMBU exceeds well. Perhaps the most important aspect of the game is the immaculate level design. Each course is carefully designed to test the skills of the player, every jump has to be precise and every movement planned. Stages are varied, you never get the feeling of familiarity, nor do they ever play the same. The controls in the game are thankfully responsive, so if you happen to die you can only blame yourself.
There is a lot of content in the Story. From my count there are approximately 70 stages, which probably will take 10 -13 hours to complete. If you are a completionist, you can aim to collect all the star coins and explore to find secret stages and shortcuts. The more time you invest in New Super Mario Bros. U, the more you will get out of the game.
There are other tidbits that have been included to add a bit of variety. Firstly Powerups make a welcome return. The classics like Fire flower and the super star makes a return, however there are newly introduced power-ups. The Super Acorn and P-acorn make their debut; obtaining these items allows Mario to transform into a flying squirrel. My only gripes with the power-ups are that they are not very imaginative nor do they introduce any gameplay innovations. Baby Yoshis are also present in NSMBU. Baby Yoshis are admittedly more useful than the power-ups. My favourite of the bunch is the Pink Baby Yoshi. Shaking the wii remote, the tiny bub inflates like a balloon allowing you to float over obstacles.
You would expect Nintendos flagship title will lead the way in demonstrating the potential of the gamepad. Unfortunately New Super Mario Bros. U does not push any boundaries of the imagination. To say the least, the gamepad is used in interesting ways. In cooperative play, the individual on the gamepad can assist the players playing on the TV. This is achieved by tapping on the gamepad to create platforms. Certainly there are situations where the gamepad becomes useful, for example the gamepad can be used to create platforms to break the other players fall, difficult to reach places can be obtained be strategically placing platforms as steps. If it happens that the TV is occupied, players can play strictly on the gamepad screen, it is rather uninspired but nonetheless useful.
Personally I played the entire game with 2 players using the wii remote and another on the gamepad. The cooperative play in New Super Mario Bros. U is very chaotic, often I find myself dying repeatedly not because of bad skill but from lack coordination with my partners. Approximately around the halfway point of the story mode, the cooperative play became extremely fun. The player on the gamepad was effective with the platforms, my partner was working well and the entire experience was better with a couple of companions.
Besides the Story mode there are additional modes to retain players attention for a bit longer. Players can choose from challenge mode, boost rush mode and coin battle. The most interesting of the three is challenge mode. Challenge mode offers an incredible amount of objective of various degrees of difficulty. Sometimes you have to complete an obstacle in a set time limit, collect a set amount of coins, collect a certain number of 1-ups or special missions that have differing rules. There is an amazing amount objectives, and isnt a tacked on mode just to extend the life of the game. The other two modes are fun but nowhere near the same quality of challenge mode.
New Super Mario Bros. U is an excellent game. If you are looking for a superb platform or just a really fun game, you cannot go wrong with New Super Mario Bros. U. Despite a few shortcomings in the visuals and music, Mario proves once again that gameplay is truly king.
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