Title: New Super Mario Bros. U
Format: Wii U
Release Date: November 18, 2012
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Price: $59.99 (Digital and Retail)
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Let's be honest: New Super Mario Bros. isn't exactly new anymore. As the fourth game in the series, New Super Mario Bros. U has a lot to live up to. So does it pull it off?
Scrap what I said earlier. Though New Super Mario Bros. U lacks formulaic differences, there is certainly a select handful of others. For one, Princess Peach actually isn't captured this time! Instead, Bowser and the Koopalings invade her castle with the help of a giant mechanical arm and throw the brothers and Toads far away, leaving them to trek the land before them in order to reach the castle.
As a 2D Mario game, the gameplay is generally the same as always. Players can either use the GamePad or Wiimotes to control the Mario Bros. or Toads. What's more is that if four people are playing using Wiimotes, an additional fifth player can jump in at any time and use the GamePad to place blocks, either assisting or distracting players on the screen. As any Mario fan would come to expect, various power-ups can be found in levels, though this particular installment doesn't seem to offer very many that are new. This is Mario's first HD outing, and as such it looks gorgeous (for a 2D game, anyways). Another neat addition to the game is support from Miiverse. Having it enabled will allow players to create posts either by drawing or typing on the GamePad. These posts can be seen on the world map and show up rather frequently. This is oftentimes a good thing as other players will often give tips for how to get a Star Coin, defeat a boss, etc. That, and seeing all the ways people can come up with to insult Bowser never get old. It's a simple addition, but one that keeps the pacing stable.
Besides the exhilarating and chaotic single and multiplayer modes, players can now compete in in-game challenges. Boost Mode is a unique experience in which players work their way through side-scrolling stages from Story Mode, but the catch is that the more Coins the player has collected, the faster the screen scrolls. Challenge Mode offers several types of (you guessed it) challenges like collecting a set amount of coins, earning 1-ups sequentially, etc. Both of these modes offer a well-needed breath of fresh air into the series.
New Super Mario Bros. U features the same great gameplay that past titles in the series have. Throw in some unique modes and you have a solid Wii U launch title that will satisfy casual players and die-hard Mario fans alike.
S&S Rating: 8.5/10.0