New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch) Review
Six years ago I reviewed New Super Mario Bros. U, a then-launch title for the Wii U. At the time I professed my love for it, there was just a certain freshness to the game. It was the first time in a while that the ‘New’ series felt like it offered something different. Without another new 2D Mario title since, can this 2012 game still be fresh in 2018? That all depends on whether you owned a Wii U or not.
For those not yet acquainted with New Super Mario Bros. U, the game is both a single-player and multiplayer 2D Mario title. You can choose to play through the game by yourself, or up to three other friends can join in the chaos. You travel around the Mushroom Kingdom from world to world like the classic 2D Mario titles and knock off levels, mid-bosses and then a boss castle like you would before. The story is… well you already know what it is because it’s the same as every Mario title ever. Unless of course, you’re playing New Super Luigi U — which is included in the package — where Mario has been taken instead. More on the differences between the two games included later.
New Super Mario Bros. U contains some of the best levels ever crafted in a Mario game — they’re all consistently good — but they do tend to run into one another after a while. You’ll be challenged in the later parts of the game, and if you choose to try and collect all the Star Coins, there’s even more challenge waiting for you after you finish the game as well. It doesn’t take too long to breeze to the credits, but to explore all the levels, and find all the Star Coins, that’ll take a while.
So what’s new in this Switch port? Honestly, not a whole lot. The core of the game pretty much the same, this feels like the most ‘Wii U’ title yet, with the overly bubbly user interface designed for a touch screen only given a fresh coat of paint with animated backgrounds and buttons that do their best to make us forget about the Wii U origins.
The only real change in the game comes from the two new characters included. Toadette (and her Peachette form) and Nabbit. Nabbit was previously playable before in Super Luigi U, but joins the main roster in both games. He’s essentially a cheat mode, can’t be injured by enemies, and instead of using power-ups he gets points from them instead. He’s also got the ability to move in water in any direction. You can play through the entire game with him if you wish, or just use him to get past a level you can’t proceed through with any other character without punishment. He’s perfect for someone who’s not as skilled at playing Mario games, who just wants to play for a bit of fun.
Toadette is also one of the characters with an easy label, she has more precise movement and has the ability to transform into a completely different character altogether – Peachette. Collect a ‘Super Crown’ and Toadette will transform into a Peach with braids; she can hover down like Peach can in almost any other Mario title but also shoot straight up with a boost like the Squirrel Suit (which was also introduced in this game). The different between the two is that the Squirrel Suit can’t shoot straight up, but goes at an angle. It’s a tiny difference mechanically but surprisingly makes the game a whole lot easier. Because of the two new characters added to the game, and inability to pick two Toads at once, it does always mean one player will play with a handicap in four player mode which is just completely baffling. This is even worse in New Super Luigi U where you have two use both Nabbit and Toadette in four player, because Mario is missing.
The rest of the game’s changes are all smaller quality of life changes, for better or worse. You can still spin your character with the hit of a trigger for extra airtime, but you can also activate it by pressing the jump button again in the air. Perhaps it’s to accommodate folks playing on Joy-Con only, but it still would be nice to be able to turn it off. You can now choose which character to play as when you start a file and switch to any character at any point from the main menu in the world. The game also features hints, which you’ll probably read once, super play videos to watch the experts play through levels, and the specific Wii U boost mode challenges have been given the chop. The updated Challenges, Boost Rush and Coin provide some alternative fun, and overall there’s more content removed than added here, but it was mostly rubbish anyway.
New Super Luigi U, which is also included, also has some changes. It’s still, in essence, the same game as Bros, it has a harder difficulty and speed focus — they’re the same stages but they’ve been cut down and remixed to be able to be finished in time. You’ll also get double the time (200 seconds) to play through each level now than in the Wii U version if you play with Toadette or Nabbit.
It would also be prudent to mention the entire package is in 1080p docked, but otherwise, the game looks exactly the same, it does pop nicely in handheld mode and doesn’t skip a beat. The dancing Koopas and the ‘bah-bah’ music is still there as well, love it or loathe it. The art and audio style of the New Super Mario Bros. series at this point is really long in the tooth, and I think the game would be better received if it looked different. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just old and derivative at this point.
If you’ve played New Super Mario Bros U at all before, there’s not a whole lot of reasons to go back. It’s still terrific 2D Mario title, and it’s aged gracefully, with only the slightest of nips and tucks along the way. Just don’t go in expecting anything more than what you got in 2012. On the other side of the coin, if you’ve never played it before – you’re in for a treat. It’s a more accessible Mario if you need it to be, and if not, the difficulty is still there if you’re a longtime fan. Still, a new, New Super Mario Bros. after all this time would have been nicer.
- Well polished 2D Mario experience
- Quality of life changes for changing characters
- Peachette and Nabbit make the game even more accessible
- Nothing new for people who bought it before on Wii U
- Looks a little plain, aside from one or two levels
- Spin on the A button, not sure if I like that
- No second toad character in four player modes