Posted 17 December 2012 - 01:01 AM
New Super Mario Bros. U
'New Super Mario Bros. U' is in an interesting dilemma, as it is another title in the "New" Mario series which just received another entry this very year on the 3DS. This has given a few people bad impressions of the game from the beginning because really, what's new? Luckily for us, however, the game is much less of another entry in the series, and more like a new game.
Basics of NSMB:
The game still carries out like the other 'New Super Mario Bros.' games. Princess gets kidnapped, you have to save her, the usual. The controls are also very familiar, being derived completely from 'New Super Mario Bros. Wii' with the Wii Remote being held sideways, NES style (the 'shake' command can also be used by tapping the triggers if you are using the Gamepad, which may I add, can only control Mario in single player, otherwise it is just to use Boost Rush when playing multiplayer ). As a whole, everything feels the same in the control and story department, and this is probably for the better as the controls are quite smooth.
So what sets 'New Super Mario Bros. U' apart from DS, 2, and Wii? There's actually a reasonable enough number of changes to make the game feel fresh. The first, most obvious thing you will notice when starting the game is that this time it takes place in one intertwined map 'Super Mario World' style. This, while not actually a giant change, makes the world feel bigger. Secret exits which generally lead to a secret level, seem much more common because of this, with every world having at least one "extra" level found by utilizing them.
Returning to the game are the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Ice Flower, Mini Mushroom, and Starman (as do the Propeller Suit and Penguin Suit, but only in the final world of the game), oh, and so does Yoshi! There is no Giant Mushroom in sight this time, which may be unfortunate to some. It also brings a new power-up to the table in the Squirrel Suit, which is very reminiscent of the Raccoon Suit from 'Super Mario Bros. 3' in a way (there is also a 'P' version of it which is like the P-Wing - also from the same game). On top of this, it also brings new "power-ups" to the table in the form of Baby Yoshis. You carry them much like you would a Koopa Shell, and shake the Wii Remote to active their special skills. There are three different types of Baby Yoshi:
Pink, which inflates like a balloon, allowing you to traverse levels where falling is death much safer.
Blue, which spits bubbles that capture enemies, turning them into bubble-trapped coins for you to collect (you can also jump on them if you so desire).
and Yellow, which emits light in dark areas such as caves. This lights them up so you can see in a much wider radius, and dazes enemies if used near enough.
You can find the former two on the overworld map, allowing you to bring them with you to most any stage (they sit back on the Castle stages). The yellow one however is only found in levels it would be practical to be used in. After passing any level with your overworld obtained Yoshi they will be following you again on the map to be used in another stage. If you lose them in the stage though you will lose them and must wait until you find another on the world map, or they respawn in their original place.
As well as the new Squirrel Suit, there is a new "mode" in the game titled 'Boost Rush.' Despite the term however, it is not actually a whole new mode, and is rather what the Gamepad player will use when playing multiplayer. When this mode is active (you activate it by tapping anywhere on the screen) you can place blocks into the game by tapping on-screen where you want to place them. Doing so will materialize a block wherever you tap. This can allow even faster coordinated speed runs, or simply let the player wreak havoc, as you may place them quite literally anywhere they can fit. Also added is,
Now on to arguably the biggest addition introduced in this game: Challenge Mode. Actually, it's nothing more than the name states, a myriad of trials. But don't let that fool you, it really is a huge addition once you start playing as it is challenging and as such, addicting! There are five different categories in this mode:
Time Attack, where you race to the finish line as fast as possible.
Coin Collection, where you collect as many coins as possible in a certain setup, though some have you do the complete opposite and you must avoid coins!
1-Up Rally, where you must rack up as many lives as possible in different settings. It may be a matter of wall jumping to combo a bunch of Dry Bones, or gliding with the Squirrel Suit to combo Koopas.
Special, which can range from dodging fireballs for as long as possible, to dodging everything in a stage be it Bullet Bill's, fire bars, or coins.
Last but not least, we have Boost Mode. These challenges typically rely on one user playing as Mario, and another placing platforms for him to jump on. Platforms are generally omitted from the challenges as to make Boost Platforms mandatory.
So what pulls all of these together? They all have a medal system. There is a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal for most every challenge (some simply have Gold since it's either win or die), and every one has a different criteria to achieve. They are all quite simple; Time Attack requires you to reach the goal within a certain time to get Gold, Coin Collection requires you to collect a certain number in the stage set up, etc. However simple though, these are also what makes this mode challenging. If you want the Gold you will have to play near perfectly in many of the challenges, so in the end this mode adds many hours of content and replayability into the game.
Also falling under the Challenge Mode category are Boost Rush Packs. These are nothing more than stages put together in a pack much like 'New Super Mario Bros. 2's DLC packs. However, they are all set to auto-scroll like an athletic-type stage and the speed rises as more coins are picked up. The boost blocks in this mode also emit coins when stepped on within a certain time-frame as to get you to max speed even faster.
Stage Design and Visuals:
I do believe that this deserves its own section, as the stage design in this game is simply brilliant. You still have a few bad apples here and there, but for the most part the stages are always fun and have a nice, smooth flow to them. You will not play ten stages and be bored because they are too tedious or too much alike, as each one feels new compared to the last. This is a very welcome improvement over that of this year's 'New Super Mario Bros. 2.'
The visuals are amazing for Mario, as they are truly HD for the first time. However, there appears to be a shiny plastic coat over everything in this game. Mario almost looks like he's radiating light at times. But this is rather nitpicky. The backgrounds are nice and detailed for the most part, but do not vary from stage to stage. Most worlds carry two or three backgrounds and stick to those throughout the 6-8 levels in said world. All-in-all, I believe that the graphics are amazing, but do not hold a great "Wow Factor" after the first hour of the game.
Well, that wraps up my review on 'New Super Mario Bros. U' for the Nintendo Wii U. The game is most certainly not perfect, but I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for new games for their new console. For that matter, I would recommend it to anyone with a Wii U as it really is a quality title that packs a good amount of content for the price. Until we meet again,
Apologies if it seems sloppy in some parts, I am open to all constructive critique. Let me know if anything needs fixed, or simply discuss anything you disagree with via PM. Thank you!