Wednesday, January 30, 2019

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (NSW) Review

Let's strike while the iron is hot! Actually, the iron is frozen solid due to this arctic weather we're currently experiencing in the Midwest, but that's neither here nor there. The point here, is that we're striving to keep the momentum going together, and this next review will do just that. It's New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, the latest Wii U-to-Switch port from Nintendo. Let's-a go check it out!

New Year, Familiar U

In 2012, New Super Mario Bros. U was one of the premiere launch titles for the Wii U--arguments on that being damning testimony as to why the Wii U failed to light up the charts notwithstanding. The core game was a lot of fun with enjoyable multiplayer, fantastic level design, and new HD visuals. The game sees itself making the leap over from the Wii U to the Switch, like many of Nintendo's game have done already. However, since its launch, there have been some truly excellent 2D platformers, some from Nintendo itself, that are by far better games and make this entire New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe package feel a tad antiquated in 2019, even more so than it might have to players back in 2012.

It's like returning to a familiar old friend with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
Let's go over what you get with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. You have the core New Super Mario Bros. U game and the added New Super Luigi U expansion that released in 2013, as part of Nintendo's Year of Luigi promotion. New Super Mario Bros. U is a more relaxed game that doesn't really get too terribly challenging until the latter of the eight story-related worlds within. Meanwhile, New Super Luigi U features shorter, more challenging levels where you have only 100 seconds to complete them, and Luigi's physics are more in line with Super Mario Bros. 2's USA version, where he has a higher jump and features more slippery controls.

Thank goodness Mario is using his burner account on this level.
Included with the New Super Mario Bros. U side of this Deluxe package is a series of challenges that you can play through. These range from speed runs on original courses and ones already featured within the base game, to survival challenges, to trying to successfully jump on enemies to get 1-Ups without ever hitting the ground. For those who played the Wii U game, you might recall there being a Boost Mode, played with the Wii U GamePad. Rather than retool these for the Switch release, all of these GamePad-related challenges from the original 2012 game have simply been removed.

Between New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U, you're easily getting over 100 levels total, and these are all smartly designed obstacle courses, which is definitely shown through the added Hint videos available for budding speed-runners and those who wish to be inspired by some truly expert playing. Each level holds three Star Coins in them, and many times they'll be placed in precarious, risk-vs-reward locations, or require some sleuthing to discover them (i.e. finding a secret pipe or hidden alcove in a level). Players will want to get all of the Star Coins in the game to fully enjoy New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U to see everything these games have to offer level-wise.

Mario better be careful with his platforming, or he may see the point... of this Urchin, that is!
A fresh addition to both New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U is the ability to play as Toadette. She's listed as an easy character to play as--with Nabbit being the easiest (so easy that if you're playing in solo mode, you won't get a legitimate mark on the world map for "beating" the level). This is because she doesn't slip on ice, gets extra seconds added to her timer in New Super Luigi U, and is about to transform into Peachette via special Crown power-up, exclusive to her character. The Crown power-up gives the newly formed Peachette the ability to float in the air for a limited period of time, as well as perform a recovery with a shake of the controller or press of a button--great for saving herself from platforming errors.

Don't worry--SuperPhillip Central will not post any Bowsette fan art. (In this review.)
While we're on the subject of platforming errors, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe features a questionable design decision with regards to its controls. In the original NSMBU and NSLU, Mario or whoever the player controlled could flick the controller or press the trigger to perform a twirl. This could give the player some extra air time to pull off some proficient platforming--or just save their own skin. In New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, while both shaking the controller and/or hitting the Joy-Con's trigger with allow players to perform a midair twirl, the game also assigns the twirl to the jump button. This can result in some unwanted damage from enemies, or worse yet, undesired deaths. During my time with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe in both Mario U and Luigi U forms, this did not occur often at all, but it is a potential problem for players to keep in mind.

Perhaps now is not a good time for the player to learn about that jump button problem...
To speak more highly of this Switch compilation of New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U, it's absolutely fantastic and convenient to already have two controllers available to you via being able to split the Joy-Con between two players. Just another Joy-Con set, and you can have the maximum amount of players on screen at once--four of you, bouncing off each other's heads to reach high up places, tackling enemies and platforming challenges together with great rhythm and--aw, who are we kidding--if you're like me, you're just going to get your teammates killed over and over again by chucking shells into them. Still, multiplayer is a fine amount of fun, and when you're all working together--and even when you're messing one another up--it's a good time. Of course, some levels are better in co-operative play than others--yep, I'm looking at you, New Super Luigi U's Fire Bar Sprint.

Like many Switch multiplayer games, just the Joy-Con pair that comes out of the Switch
box is all you need to enjoy some two-player co-operative play.
New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U have never looked better, thanks to the touch up in resolution in the Deluxe version. Not only does New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe look great in docked form, as expected, but it look and runs awesomely in handheld form, as well. That said, even in 2012, these games weren't the bastion of high definition graphics, but still, they look delightful enough all the same. If only we could all say similar things about the music. While I don't mind the "bah, bahs" heard throughout the game's soundtrack, nor its less than impressive instrumentation, no doubt others will. Regardless, the compositions are solid and hark back to the regular old Super Mario Bros. in the catchy-ness department.

Was this screenshot taken in NSMBU's ice world or the United States
during this week's Polar Vortex? (How's THAT for topical humor!)
With every Wii U to Switch port that comes about, the question is always, "Should I buy this game if I already own it on the Wii U?" Well, with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, I can definitely say that unless you just have to get rid of your Wii U or find no pleasure in playing on that relatively clunky system, then you can easily pass on this port of these two games. They're still fun to play and marvels of terrific level design, but they're also rather dated compared to many of the 2D platformers that have popped up since 2012 that have far outdone the House of Mario's Wii U launch offering.

Mario will do anything to keep his plumber's license, won't he.
However, if you've never owned a Wii U before or somehow missed out on one or either of these two games, then answering if you should buy New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is as easy as accidentally running into the first Goomba in the game. That is to say--easier than you'd think. And the answer is a certain "yes". Looking at these two platformers relative to those that came out after paints a lesser picture of these two New Super Mario Bros. adventures, but by themselves, New Super Mario Bros.U and New Super Luigi U never lost their individual quality.

[SPC Says: B+] 

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