Hands-On: New Super Mario Bros. U

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

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New Super Mario Bros. U Logo

There are a lot of games that never come as a surprise.  Every year we expect there to be another Call of Duty with the same multiplayer, and another annual sports game from EA.  When it comes to Nintendo it never comes to any surprise when they announce a Mario game.  New Super Mario Bros. U is no different, and contains an underwhelming use of Nintendo’s innovative new controller.

New Super Mario Bros. Screenshot 1

Let’s get this out of the way, this game looks gorgeous in HD.  It shows that not only can Nintendo still make a 2D platform game, but they are fully embracing the HD format.  The game is very colorful and the picture is so sharp you can cut yourself on it.

The gameplay is mostly the same.  If you played any Super Mario Bros. game you’ll be able to pick it up right away.  The only difference I was able to see was the Flying Squirrel suit, which isn’t much different than the tanooki suit of Super Mario Bros. 3, and the floating Yoshi.  So if you’re looking for a radical change in design, look elsewhere.  The formula works for what it is and there really isn’t any reason to fix something that isn’t broken.

New Super Mario Bros. U Screenshot 2

The most disappointing aspect is the use of the Wii U Gamepad.  If you wanted to play multiplayer with one player on the gamepad, you’re probably better off just letting the player watch.  The player with the gamepad’s role is to touch the screen to place platforms and stun enemies, that’s it.  Sure this can be handy when trying to reach high up places and catching someone from falling into a pit, or for those who are completely incapable of using the Wii remote but still want to participate, but there could’ve been a much nicer use of their technology.  For example, perhaps they could’ve let the gamepad player collect hard to reach coins, zoom out so they can see hidden areas of the map, or drag their fingers to make cloud platforms or vines to climb.  Instead it felt tacked on as an afterthought.

New Super Mario Bros. U Screenshot 3

I love when Nintendo tries to innovate, so it’s baffling to see them not do anything innovative with one of their key franchises.  The game is fun, but it’s nothing you haven’t played before.   Who am I kidding though, it’s going to sell millions and I’ll be one of those people.

Press Release:

“New Super Mario Bros. U is a new, side-scrolling adventure featuring

Mario, Luigi, Toad … and your Mii character. Now’s your chance to

step inside the Mushroom Kingdom and explore new worlds, new

power-ups and new ways to play.”