It's All Up to U (E3 2012)
I had already played on Wii U at last year's E3, but not to this extent. This year, Nintendo had a generous amount of software on display for Wii U, both first- and third-party, and amongst all the titles announced, there's one that'll be a sure hit, a best-seller, and hopefully a great reason to buy the new system. I'm talking about New Super Mario Bros. U, the Italian plumber's first appearance on Nintendo's new home console, based on both classic and new Super Mario Bros. games.
During our tour with a Nintendo representative at their E3 booth, I got my hands on the Wii Remote to play the demo of New Super Mario Bros. U, and to be honest, I couldn't let go until I had played all three levels available. As you can imagine, New Super Mario Bros. U offers a game experience that's quite similar to the one offered by New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It's your typical Mario side-scroller, with static and moving platforms, gaps, coins, and question mark blocks with power-ups. Once again, the game includes multiplayer, so several people can join the party and have a blast. Of course, just like before, the gameplay becomes much more frantic and chaotic when many players are on the screen, each of them attempting to get past obstacles and acquire power-ups.
Like they've done in all the newer Super Mario Bros. titles to date, each level is split into two parts, with a flag checkpoint in between where you can restart the game if you die mid-level. In addition, you can collect the three Star Coins (big golden coins) in order to truly complete the level, rather than just limiting yourself to platforming your way to the flagpole at the end. Naturally, obtaining those special coins is often tricky, but that's the name of the game, right? It's certainly a feature that adds replayability over the older Super Mario Bros. games where your only goal was not to die.
The Mushroom Kingdom scenarios found in New Super Mario Bros. U are varied; they're not only different between themselves, but there's also a diversity of platforming elements and enemies throughout each level that keeps the experience fresh. Though I only saw three levels, we already know there's a colorful, classic-looking stage in the Mushroom Kingdom with cute, plump trees and other greenery, one with bouncy mushrooms and moving platforms throughout, and a nighttime, snowy level with a starry sky and big rotating stars as some of the platforms you must overcome. Needless to say, everything looks vibrant and amazing in HD, with a lot of attention to detail and backdrops that can only be described as pure art.
Getting through these levels was not difficult, but they definitely keep you on your toes with all sorts of strategically placed gaps, enemies, and contraptions. Each of the stages presents its own challenges, with new platforming elements never seen in previous Mario titles, such as the aforementioned rotating stars in the night level. Obtaining and using the new power-ups make things that much easier in New Super Mario Bros. U, so I was always on the lookout for those acorn mushrooms and dinosaur eggs.
The acorns give you a Flying Squirrel Suit. With it, you can glide around pretty easily; it helps you overcome big gaps and explore hard-to-access areas for possible hidden extras. Very handy indeed, plus you know what? It just doesn't get any cuter! As for the eggs, as you can expect, a bunch of Baby Dragons (are they Baby Yoshis?) will break out of them. Unlike the Yoshis on New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the multi-colored babies found in New Super Mario Bros. U offer different abilities depending on their color. From what I saw, the pink baby inflates like a balloon and lets you fly up towards the top of the stage and hover around; the blue one blows bubbles to attack enemies; and the yellow one lights up to help you see in dark areas. It's nice to see Nintendo never takes us gamers for granted, always striving for innovation and pure entertainment.
Another novelty added to New Super Mario Bros. U is the option to use a Mii as your character. We already saw this in last year's Wii U tech demo of what was going to turn into this game, but it's now confirmed.
What else? Well, instead of four players, New Super Mario Bros. U allows up to five people to share the fun. Four of them will have to play the classic way, with the Wii Remote (that's the most fun option), but a fifth player can use the Wii U GamePad touch screen to place platforms and item boxes on the screen strategically. They can assist the other players by facilitating access to tough-to-reach areas, give them power-ups, or help them overcome gaps, but they can also create extra challenge by stunning them. While this type of gameplay is not as involved, it's actually very fun and adds a new layer of madness to the multiplayer experience.
New Super Mario Bros. U will come alongside Wii U (but not bundled) later this year, probably just before the holidays. Since it's still a few months away, we'll be sure to keep you in the loop with new information, screenshots, and videos Nintendo may release. What do you think? Are you dying to play this game yet? Have you seen the cool videos and screens available so far?
An enthusiast of gaming adventures as well as party and puzzle games. Writer, editor, translator, graphics designer, and a multitasker at heart. Maria has worked in the gaming industry since 2007, though she's been a gamer since the eighties. She proudly wore her Spain jersey when they won the 2010 World Cup!
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