In all honesty, New Super Mario Brothers U is definitely not the game that sold me on buying a Wii U shortly after the Japanese launch date. I had eyes only for the HD version of Monster Hunter 3G, with absolutely no intention of even buying this new entry in the Super Mario series until it dropped in price a bit. But then I heard the words that made my heart leap and brought back feelings of wonder once felt by my 11 year old self: “It’s like Super Mario World.”
Now I look at Super Mario World as one of the finest games ever made, and most likely my favorite platforming game of all time. I’ve also come to view the New Super Mario Bros. series as having grown somewhat stale after its original DS entry. Therefore I was very weary upon hearing this statement, but then I heard it from multiple sources. They were all sources that I trusted implicitly. So just like that my mind was opened to giving New Super Mario Bros. U a chance, and at full price no less. I’ve now spent a good amount of hours with this game and have just completed (though not 100%) the game’s main mode. So is it really the second coming of Super Mario World?
In several ways, yes it is. At least it’s closer than any Mario game that has come since. The normal New Super Mario Bros. style of world map has been overhauled to make all of the worlds and levels flow together much more fluently, in a manner that certainly hasn’t been seen since Super Mario World. Each world typically contains a fortress ghost house and a castle. Each level also encourages a high level of exploration. And perhaps most importantly, gone are the sluggish controls of New Super Mario Bros. Wii: They have been replaced by a much tighter feeling control system of old.
Even with all these great improvements to the New Super Mario Bros. series, this game isn’t quite on the same level of magnificence as Super Mario World though. It was definitely created by people who had the utmost amount of love and respect for its predecessor, but they just didn’t manage to recapture the same magic here. Is it because of the young age that many of us were the first time that we played Super Mario World that makes it seem so unbeatable? Possibly. But I think this game at least proves that that sort of magic can potentially be recaptured again. One of the things that made Super Mario World so great is its originality: It threw in so many new elements that hadn’t been seen in a Mario game. New Super Mario Bros. U dabbles in this, but doesn’t do enough of it to make it a real competitor for the Mario throne.
New Super Mario Bros. U depends a little bit too much on making its originality from features that utilize the Wii U’s unique traits. Being able to play on the Wii U GamePad is certainly a unique feature, and very convenient. The game looks gorgeous on the GamePad’s screen, but I preferred the feel of the controls when using the regular Wii Remote instead of the GamePad. Challenge Mode is very nice for what little I’ve played with it, great for a change of pace. I confess that I haven’t really played any of the other new modes, though it certainly is appreciated that such a high volume of content was added. It gives me a great incentive to revisit this game later on.
All of this said, this game is absolutely worth a purchase, particularly if you love Super Mario World. The sheer amount of content and re-play-ability makes it worth the full price tag. Nintendo should also be told by as many as possible that we support them going back and really attempting to rediscover what made Super Mario World so great.