New Super Mario Bros U made a very brief appearance during the Nintendo Direct showing on Sunday with the odd five second video here and there, but on Tuesday I got the opportunity to go hands-on with the plumbers latest 2D outing. While online and community features weren’t shown off, I did get a chance to see how the new Wii U control would be utilised as well as a look at Mario in true HD for the first time.
As you could have probably guessed New Super Mario Bros U plays like a standard 2D platforming Mario title. You’re still running from left to right and you’re still jumping on Goombas and it’s still great fun especially when you get four people together. While playing is done with your old Wii remotes, the new Wii U control does have some use too.
When playing alone, the control essentially acts in the same manner as a Wii remote accept with the addition of a smaller screen. As previously shown in last year’s E3 demo , if someone wants to switch the channel on the TV you can still run and hop on the controller’s screen itself.
However the device can also be used as a fifth player who, using the touch screen can try to help or hinder their fellow players using the Wii remotes. While not actually controlling a character, the player with the Wii U control can instead manipulate the environment via creating blocks others can use as platforms or attacking Koopas and Goombas. It was good fun for the first stage we tried, but after that I wanted to get actually playing as Mario and the gang again. As it is, this addition feels a little basic and when compared to the excellent Rayman Legends unimaginative. Here’s hoping things get a bit more creative as Nintendo reveal more.
As I mentioned before the gameplay is spot on.Only three stages were demoed but each showed great level design as well as some challenging platforming. Also introduced were two new power-ups. The first being baby Yoshis which provide Mario with a brief ability depending on colour. The one found in the demo inflated giving Mario a small boost in the air. More are promised in the final game with the below screens revealing ones that light dark rooms and spit bubbles. The other (and perhaps more strange) saw Mario don a Squirrel Suit which allowed him to slowly glide downward and even shoot skyward at the shake of the remote. It’s very similar to that of the helicopter suit in the Wii version except this outfit looks much cooler.
Visually the game has seen a big step up since last year’s E3. Sure people will still complain that the art-style itself is lacking, but with a new HD sheen and some nicely detailed backgrounds, I definitely walked away impressed. Taking a look at the trailer Nintendo launched you’ll even see some Yoshi’s Island inspired stages and cool new worlds. Even on the smaller screen of the Wii U control, the game looks genuinely appealing.
Overall New Super Mario Bros U provides the same classic Mario fun with new power-ups and some HD polish. While the Wii U control implementation didn’t quite deliver, here’s hoping things improve as Nintendo reveal more near its release.