It’s been said many times on Starpulse before, but I’m just not very good at Mario games. With that said yet again, I highly recommend you not only play New Super Mario Bros. U on your Wii U, but that you do not play it alone if you’re as bad at as me.
When playing through the Story Mode single player on the GamePad, I breezed through the early levels. But once I got to the middle of the game, I was dying a LOT and cursing Nintendo for my inability to land a jump when I needed to. (My fault. Not theirs.)
It turned out my roommate played Mario a lot in the old days. So I invited him to play. I went out and bought a Wii Remote so he could join.
He actually wound up controlling Mario the majority of the time on the Wii Remote while I used the GamePad. Some critics have criticized the fact that to play as other characters, like Luigi, you need yet another Wii Remote and can’t use the GamePad. I, however, think the way the GamePad is implemented in the gameplay is phenomenal.
I learned that while I’m terrible playing as Mario, I’m awfully good at playing defense for my roommate while he played. On the GamePad, I could see the screen just as he did on the TV and I could place blocks for him to jump on – or save him when he fell – as well as knock out or outright defeat enemies before they got near him. He usually had to take care of big bosses by himself, but I was still able to help in other ways.
After about an hour of playing, we developed our own language. “Bridge!” he would shout if I didn’t instinctively know he needed a boost or a step.
And that was the most amazing part. We actually stopped talking for awhile as I learned to anticipate what he would need and he learned to take certain directions in levels knowing I’d be running defense when he veered off the main path.
Had I reviewed the Story Mode solely as a single player, I would have remarked how at incredible the graphics look on the Wii U and the inventiveness of some of the level design. (Almost all of the levels have a central gimmick; like bouncing along a centipede’s back as he snakes his way from the bottom to the top. Or riding an “elevator” that you control with the Wii Remote, as you twist it left to right to avoid obstacles.)
But playing with my roommate and seeing how incredible couch co-op was for this type of game, I have to admit that it may even make my top ten games of the year list.
There are plenty of Mario mainstay elements in this game. The ghost houses will confound you and annoy you as they always do, and the swimming levels remain the hardest to beat. And to defeat a boss, jump on his head three times. Luckily, there are also enough new ideas thanks to the implementation of the GamePad that you won’t mind playing a game you’ve probably played before. (But no Nintendo, I do not… not ever… want to write something to the Miiverse in the game. So stop asking!)
If you were lucky enough to get your hands on a Wii U already, you’ll want to pick up this game, especially if you’re an old school Mario fan. (My roommate remarked at various points during the game just how many callbacks there were to the old games.)
Just make sure you don’t play it alone.
* Disclosure: A copy of New Super Mario Bros. U was provided by Nintendo for the purposes of this review. *