New Super Mario Bros. U Impressions and Footage: Is one more Mario game so wrong?
I wouldn’t blame you if your first impression of New Super Mario Bros U isn’t a great one. The game looks as fun as ever but with two (New!) Mario platforms arriving in stores within 90 days of each other you may be experiencing a little bit of plumber burn out.
Would Nintendo really just throw out a Mario game for launch just to push units? Will that even work? One of the reasons the N64 was met with so much hype and amazement in 1996 wasn’t just because there was a Mario at launch but because that Mario game was revolutionary at the time.
So Nintendo is taking a gamble and releasing a Mario game which doesn’t have the pizazz that each 3D Mario has had. It doesn’t appear to have as much style as the initial resurrection of 2D Mario with 2006’s New Super Mario Bros on DS. Is it so wrong for Nintendo to prepare a run of the mill Mario platformer just to push units? In the past we had to wait years between each console Mario game. So is one more Mario platform in a short time so wrong? No. Not at all. All these fears of Nintendo making a Mario game that is too similar to recently released Marios flies out the door once you start playing the game. Is this the Nintendo magic so many speak of? Maybe it is. You can play New Super Mario Bros U with up to five people, one using the Wii U Game Pad in an assist role. Everyone else uses Wii remotes and they play the game the exact same way as New Super Mario Bros Wii so I won’t elaborate on those controls. Controlling Mario and company is as easy it has ever been.
I turn my focus to the assist role that the player using the Game Pad experiences. This player uses their finger or the stylus to places blocks on screen for others to stand on. Blocks disappear the moment after their initially stepped on so you’ll have to do a lot of tapping on the touch screen as you play. Assisting others didn’t leap out to me as something I’d like to do. I feel like Nintendo needs to come up with a better way to describe this role because it was ridiciously fun but it is presented poorly. Much like I considered the Mario Galaxy games version of co-op via star mode a throwaway feature I feared this assist role would be just as boring. I was extremely wrong about it. When the Nintendo rep told me to play “helper” for the other four players I wasn’t too excited. After all, trying to nail the perfect jump to avoid a fire ball while collecting a hard to reach star coin is what makes Mario platformers so much fun, not tapping a screen to make your friends poor video game skills less obvious.
But once I started frantically placing blocks for all four players to stand on I realised this fifth player “assist” role is an absolute blast to play. I may even opt to play it in the future, which is something I didn’t envision myself doing before going hands-on. The three levels I played weren’t extradonarily difficult but they weren’t easy for the people I was assisting either. Combine that with a little bit of clumsiness on their behalf and I was having trouble keeping up with each of them as they plummeted to their doom. If the game ramps up in difficulty as it progresses I can see the assisting player being needed.
I wasn’t able to get the Nintendo rep to tell me whether five people are required to activate this assist role with the Game Pad. Infact, the TV screen only showed options for 1-4 players, not including the fifth player using the Game Pad. I assume the Game Pad is always assumed to be in the background, available for use so the system doesn’t count it as a full-on fifth player.
Hopefully when Mario Bros U releases later this year we’ll be able to play this role using the Game Pad whether we have one, two, three or four Wii remote wielding buddies. Like I mentioned earlier this plays like a more entertaining version of the star mode in the Mario Galaxy games. But that is almost doing a disservice to it because it is much more fun than that mode ever was.
Other than stylus use I didn’t use any other part of the Game Pad to play the game. We will be able to play the game exclusively on the Game Pad instead of a Wii remote but I wasn’t able to demo how it played using the new controller. We can sit back and air our complaints about Nintendo releasing two Mario platformers that look similar to each other so close but once the actual game is in front of us all that matters is having fun.
Chances are after this odd period of two Mario games within a few months we will likely have to wait a long time before we see a new 2D Mario. And when we end up clamoring for Nintendo make another “New Super Mario” installment we’ll look back on the time we criticized them for releasing these two games (New Super Mario Bros 2 and U) this way and wish we had another Mario platformer like these to play.