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REVIEW | “Mario Bros. U” For Gamers Up For A Challenge

Posted on December 12, 2012 AT 02:55pm

It’s been over a decade since we’ve had a Mario title released with the launch of a new console (and yes, I am in the minority that counts Gamecube’s Luigi’s Mansion as a Mario launch title). With New Super Mario Bros. U the Brooklyn plumber takes his adventures into the realm of HD for the first time, with beautiful results to boot.

You don’t even have to bother going into what this Mario game is about, mainly because the premise hasn’t changed since 1985. Princess Peach/Toadstool is captured by Bowser/King Koopa, and it it’s up to you to save her again. I know it’s been joked about on other sites, but either the Princess needs better security or Bowser needs to be introduced to speed dating. (Hell, even Adventure Time‘s Ice King knows how to vary it up with the bountiful amount of ladies he’s attempted to kidnap.) The only real difference this time: Bowser and his Koopalings infiltrate Peach’s castle instead of taking her to his, and send the Mario Bros. and a couple Toads far away into the boonies of the kingdom.

New Super Mario Bros. U has you travel around the eight worlds of Mushroom Kingdom, in a set up that is very similar to that of Super Mario World. You roam around on land, sea, and air as you stomp Goombas, ride Yoshis, and tackle the minions that serve Bowser. New to the game are the Baby Yoshis that you can collect from time-to-time that can help you float above the level, light your way, or simply eat every character you come across. For a semi-new power-up there is the Flying Squirrel Suit, which blends together the tanooki suit from Super Mario Bros. 3 and the cape from Super Mario World.

Up to five players can play New Super Mario Bros. U, with four people using Wiimotes and one other person using the GamePad to help them guide the way. From my experience I have discovered that four players on-screen at the same time leaves some overcrowding issues, whereas three players at the same time showcases the power of teamwork. Using the GamePad during multiplayer gives you Boost Mode, where you can lay out special blocks to help with those long jumps or light up hidden blocks that may give players extra lives.

Playing solo, however, lets you look at the action happening either on the TV or on the screen itself. While there is no added features to be seen using the GamePad there is the luxury of bringing the game with you to bed or a more comfortable spot in your house away from too much noise. You can even post your thoughts on specific levels on the Miiverse, which can be entertaining in itself when you see some of the comments or pictures people leave. If you find your GamePad is low on battery, you can simply switch to a Wiimote at anytime and keep the game going while it charges.

While there are eight worlds in the game you might find yourself skipping one or two, depending on whatever secrets you might uncover while playing through. However don’t let the ability to skip levels make you think that this will mean a shorter gaming experience, rather you might find yourself taking a few hours to complete one world. The reason: New Super Mario Bros. U is the hardest Mario title since the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2.

The game holds your hand in a way during the Acorns Plains world, but as soon as you cross over to Layer-Cake Desert the difficulty spikes. We’re talking Dark Souls-like difficulty here! It’s not the type of game where you can collect over 30 1UPs and think you’re going to cakewalk through the game, because in a blink of an eye that 30 will drop to zero and the Continue screen will appear when you die that final time. During my time in Soda Jungle I spent three days trying to reach the next checkpoint, with my number of lives decreasing as time went on. (That Green Luigi help block that appears when you’ve failed so many times in a level will look enticing, no doubt.)

Fortunately — while it can wrack your brain on many occasions – New Super Mario Bros. U is easy on the eyes. The worlds pop out at you in HD, especially in the Sparkling Waters and Meringue Clouds worlds. Basically if you thought they couldn’t have made a Mario title more beautiful than Super Mario Galaxy 2, then you are sadly mistaken. Here the Koopas, ghosts, and Toads are brought to life in the crispiest ways possible, leaving many to wonder how the next true 3D Mario game will look in HD.

If you are really good at Mario games, then you might find yourself beating New Super Mario Bros. U in around eight hours. However if you are like myself and find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again you can expect a good 20-25 hour gaming experience with this title. There’s even two new modes you can play when not in the mood for the story mode: Challenge Mode and Boost Rush. The former has you take on levels with added stipulations to what you need to do to complete them; the latter having you complete levels in the quickest time possible.


  • Classic Super Mario gaming
  • Worlds look beautiful in HD
  • The most challenging Mario title in years


  • Some levels can be frustrating
  • Doesn’t add anything new to the Mario formula
  • Not enough Yoshi time


New Super Mario Bros. U may not add anything truly new to the side-scrolling franchise, but it still contains the same amount of fun, heart, and wonder of its predecessors. With five-player co-op, though, the game can either become more fun or possibly increase the frustration (especially if a friend jumps on your head mid-air). Still this is one Wii U title in the launch window you probably won’t want to miss out on.

FINAL GRADE: 8.9 (out of ten)

An accomplished music, anime, and video game critic, Evan Bourgault has been a Contributing Editor and Podcast host with ElectricSistaHood since 2008. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck

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