Hands-On Preview: New Super Mario Bros. U
Learning from the lack of Mario at the 3DS launch, New Super Mario Bros. U will be a launch title for the Wii U and it looks as though it could be the best game to pick up if you just want pure fun.
“This game is basically just a lot more New Super Mario Bros., so I went into the demo feeling a bit skeptical. I’m a big fan of innovation in games, so if they cannot provide that, I at least expect a decent story. For a lot of Mario games, this isn’t the case. They have formulas for their franchises and a lot of the time they just adhere to them. For the most part, that is true in the case of NSMBU, with the notable exception of the use of the Wii U GamePad. The player using the GamePad acts as a sort of benevolent god, aiding the other four players by bestowing upon them blocks that can either be used to provide coins or act as jumping points for difficult to reach places. At least, that’s the theory. In practice, it’s far more fun to play a mischievous overlord and place the blocks directly above someone’s head just as they begin a jump so that they fall into a bottomless pit or spike trap. Creating barriers with which to trip them up is also fun, but making a friend fall to their death is far more enjoyable. If you loved using NSMB as social way to pester your friends, you’ll probably love the added tool set in NSMBU–I know I do.”
“It’s kind of funny just how much I enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. U, especially when you consider my New Super Mario Bros. 2. thoughts. The gameplay is still in 2D and has you going from left to right, but the very crisp HD graphics and Wii U GamePad takes the fun to a whole new level. While the user of the GamePad doesn’t actually play when in multiplayer, they get to ‘assist’ the other players by placing blocks along the course to help everyone reach big heights. Obviously we didn’t do that.
Instead, the three levels on demo were played about 4 or 5 times so we could all have a chance with the GamePad it was so much fun. By fun, I mean that the GamePad owner would have the task of making sure that everyone died and if you could survive as one of the players (Mario, Luigi, Toad, Mii’s), you were awesome. If you don’t have anyone to play with, you can use the TV screen to play, or just look at the action on the GamePad. The graphics do take a little hit and it’s weird to stare at a controller to play a video game, but it was really interesting.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a lot from New Super Mario Bros. U, just more of the same. Now, it is easily my most anticipated Wii U game at launch.”
“At first glance, New Super Mario Bros. U is largely just New Super Mario Bros. Wii HD; it plays identically to its original Wii counterpart, only it finally has high definition graphics. It does, however, have a few cool new features that might make it worth the price of admission … if you’ve got four friends to help you out.
There’s a few new power-ups included in New Super Mario Bros. U. The two that we saw on display were the Flying Squirrel suit—a combination of the Tanooki suit from Mario 3 and the Yellow Cape from Super Mario World; and the Pink Yoshi—a (you guessed it) pink baby Yoshi which inflates into a giant balloon when you pick it up and jump with it, allowing you to glide over small stretches of the level. You can also choose to use your Miis as characters in the place of Mario and his companions, something players had asked for in response to the original game. Personally, I think the Big N should just buy the rights to Super Mario RPG’s Geno and Mallow off of SquareEnix and have them be the third and fourth characters, but it’ll never happen.
The real star attraction of New Super Mario Bros. U doesn’t even show up on screen—physically, anyway. In addition to the active four characters, New Super Mario Bros. U invites a fifth player to join in on the fun through the Wii U GamePad. Ostensibly, this fifth player is there to help the other four by placing special blocks on the course via the touch screen to help them reach certain areas, items, or power-ups, and help them defeat the bad guys. In practice, this is a recipe for artistic trolling.
Jason, Roland, and I tried NSMBU together, asking the very kind and helpful Nintendo demo rep to join us as our fourth player, and things went about as well as a squirt gun fight with a fire hydrant, namely, we all got hosed, but we loved it. I played the game solo initially and wasn’t really wowed by it, but when we all played together, it became the hands-down funnest game there that day. Just like the original New Super Mario Bros., NSMBU is a party game par excelance—just be ready to potentially ruin a few friendships with it. It was the second-biggest draw of the day (the first being ZombiU), and is shaping up to be an excellent Wii U launch title, in spite of how samey it looks and feels to New Super Mario Bros. Wii.”