With Nintendo launching the new Wii U console, if you’re not expecting another Super Mario game as one of the launch titles you need a smack around the ear. Yes, he’s back, and with even more friends and Yoshis than before, but does the Wii U controller really add anything to the Mario Brothers experience?
Bowser and his little minions have invaded Princess Peach’s castle and have kicked Mario and his chums out and off into the farthest reaches of this cutesy kingdom. You’ve got to work all the way back to the castle through levels, challenges and mini-games using the pals and items you’ll collect along the way. Sounds just like a Super Mario Brothers game and it doesn’t break its castle crashing tradition either, it adds to the overall experience and thankfully, it does it better than ever.
You’ll start in Acorn Plains and work your way through the several areas of the world map, there’s plenty of secrets and collectable to gather while you progress through the game too. This is one of the series’ strong points and always has been as there’s nothing better than unlocking secret stuff! Run, Jump and butt slam your way through diverse levels, pick up a Yoshi friend or take back a castle or two. At the beginning of the game the difficulty of the levels are low and aren’t incredibly challenging but this leaves breathing room to get to grips with the game whether you’re alone or with friends. Super Mario Brothers has always had a reliably gentle difficulty curve, with the later stages and boss castles becoming fiendishly challenging while leaving space during the journey to collect coins or sniff out some secrets. It’s a damn good formula and Super Mario Brothers U will have you addicted in no time.
The Wii U game pad comes with an inbuilt screen (6.2″) and the game looks better than ever on it but since the Wii U is HDMI compatible too, the game looks kick-ass fantastic on a 1080p screen. Colours, contrast and tone are all crisp and neat and the game is truly meant to be shown in HD to get the most of the game’s famous colour palette. Reds, blues, greens – all the colours look amazing on the Wii U, it took a good half an hour of play till I stopped taking in what a colourful game it was compared to other more super realistic titles that I’m used to playing. With more realistic games it is hard to break away from the grays, browns and more realistic shades of colour you’d need to bring an environment and characters to life. Super Mario Brothers smashes right into your eyes with colour and action and is nothing but a joy to watch aswell as being a good honest challenge at times.
The four player games can get competitive quickly which only adds to the excitement of the game. It also can get pretty damn crazy pretty damn quick with the different acrobatic moves. The multiplayer also requires Wii remotes to play which you will have to pick up separately or scavenge from friends but when you do you’ll enjoy all that madness and HD colours with the added randomness of your mates!
When you’re charging through levels there are some things to look out for like Coins and Star Coins. Coins add up into lives and Star Coins are a little bit harder to find, usually hidden or tucked away under a platform or earned by completing challenges in level. You also rack up points all the way through the game, collecting coins and beating bad guys will send this meter spinning. You can earn multipliers by thwacking multiple enemies and/or collecting power-ups too. Power-ups are a plummer’s best friend and they’re many to get to grips with in Super Mario Brothers U. You can also collect them around the map outside of the levels and use them when you need them which comes in super handy when you’ve taken a hammering from a boss.
There’s a ton of enemies to bump into along the way, a lot of them having abilities or certain ways of screwing up your run. From Koopas to Amps to Wigglers, you’ll be challenged in some awkward places too which is part of what makes these Super Mario bros games so good. Watch out for the Toad! He’s back and as clumsy as ever and has managed to let a large purple rabbit called Nabbit take his gear, here’s where Toad’s mini-games are located but you’ll have to do certain tasks like catch that damned rabbit through levels which is trickier than it sounds. There’s also enough new items and super powers in the game to create a good challenge for veterans, this was one of the biggest worries I had about the title. With all this, plus a greatly varied selection of levels with different difficulties to complete; the game is so open, accessible and colourful that it is a must-have title for the Wii U console.
Other than the main game mode there is a bundle of challenges like Boost Rush mode to get stuck into. With Boost Mode you basically complete the level in the best time you can however the screen moves at a steady pace until you pick up some coins, then there’ll be a Speed Up prompt or if you aren’t so good a Speed Down prompt. You get these urges to storm right through a heap of these mini-challenges after a good stint of the single player and they’re light and fun to play, I think they could have been improved a tad more with further implementation of the Wii U pad but none the less, they’re rather fun. In the Challenges tab are four different folders (five if you count Boost Mode) that hold a bunch of tests for you to get yourself through. I like the Time Attack challenges the most as if you get hit once you’re out and starting your run again, it is a hard challenge and the veterans of the series will have tons of fun with this feature as it takes some skill and time to get right. Last but not least is the Coin Battles… These babies are crazy to play and normally result in a whole load of crazy dashing and scrambling throughout the course to grab those coins. This is the mode that will get you competing properly against your mates, it can only be played with extra pals too, no solo play. You basically collect as many coins as you can through levels that are filled with obstacles and fast moving objects. At the end of the round the coins are tallied and the winner is announced, the Coin Battle mode is definitely the livelier mode out of them all.
Super Mario Brothers offers up something for all, something for the veterans and something for those tech enusiasts who like to get the next big thing before anyone else. It’s a great title for the Wii U to launch with and the Wii U pad is nothing but a joy to play on. Apart from the multiplayer controller issues the game is amazing, colourful and full of life just like we remembered it. Super Mario Brothers U is a must buy for Wii U owners simply because it does raise the bar for the series and holds hours and hours of full on enjoyment.