The debut Mario title for the Wii U, and yet another “New” Mario Bros. entry into the franchise. I have to admit, the only reason I ended up with this game was because it was bundled with the Wii U (along with Super Luigi U). Both games were wrapped up into one disc that came with the console. I had grown tired of the New Super Mario Bros. and this game helped to fuel my initial hatred for Nintendo’s next-gen system. After playing it through, did it change my mind?
Visuals (8.75/10) –
This game is Mario’s first foray into the HD world, and he is looking pretty darn good. Now, this isn’t up to the quality of Super Mario 3D World, but this game is still very pretty to look at. Each detail in the background, the lighting effects when you hurl a fire ball at an enemy, and the glimmer of coins really emphasizes the graphical quality of the game. What’s more is that when I played off TV, the quality still held up really well, though the screen wasn’t nearly as pretty as on the big screen. I never had a hard time seeing what was going on, and there were many times when my wife wanted to watch something on the TV, while I played on the GamePad. Visually, this game holds it’s own, even after over a year on the market.
Audio (7.5/10) –
The audio is standard fare for a Mario game – catchy, child-like tunes, a couple of which can get embedded within your memory for hours after turning off the game. Once again, this is no where near the quality of SM3DW, but it fits the game. The soundtrack overall, however, isn’t anything to get excited about. Like I said, there are a couple tunes that were well above the others (you’ll know which ones they are), but most are forgettable. They simply serve the purpose of filling up the assigned level they are in. As far as general audio, the game sounds just fine. Once again, nothing too outstanding; Mario’s yelps and “Ha-HAA!” noises are there, serving there purpose as well. There are, however, cool uses of the music within the game we’ve seen before – each over world plays the same song, but in a different way, giving it new life, and enemies react to the music on each level (dancing turtles!)
Gameplay (8/10) –
As expected, the controls are tight as ever. I found the physics and controls MUCH more enjoyable in this game than New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It was a perfect balance, and whenever I died, or succeeded, it was because of my skills. Just how I like it! Level design is average, with about 10-13 levels that stick out, and there is plenty of content within the game, especially if you’re a completionist, like myself (I completed the entire game, 100%, in about 9 to 10 hours). There are also some very challenging levels to unlock in a final world that are rage inducing, but fun nonetheless – each special level having a theme. I won’t ruin them, but I’ll say this: these are the best levels in the game.
Multiplayer is just as fun, AND FRUSTRATING, as ever, very easily leading to fun local multiplayer heckle-fests. The game is fun both as a solo experience and multiplayer experience.
On top of the already sufficient content, Nintendo added Super Luigi U to the package, which I consider an addition to this game, not a completely separate one. Essentially, Super Luigi U looks just like Mario’s outing, but each level starts with only 100 seconds to finish the level (making the levels much shorter), and different physics. You could probably figure out that Luigi’s jump is much higher, but his overall controls aren’t as tight – reference Luigi of Super Mario Bros. 2, for an example. I considered Luigi U as a sort of “challenge” section to the Mario game (though there are challenges in NSMBU to accomplish). Overall, the gameplay may be familiar, but it is still fun and very well done.
Entertainment Factor (8/10) –
Story (N/A) – Mario is chasing Bowser and his Koopa Kids (yes, I’m stubborn and won’t call them the “Koopalings”) after they kidnap Peach for the billionth time. Nothing much else to the story than that. But, we all know that Mario games aren’t about story, so I’m excluding this from the entertainment factor, as it is a gameplay-based game.
Online (7/10) – Miiverse is incorporated nicely, and the community is another good one. However, I’m going to complain here: Nintendo needs to have more online play. Imagine player a game like this with 4 strangers online, at any given time. Doesn’t that sound awesome? It might even rejuvenate levels already played, as most assuredly you’d get a few trolls trying to kill whomever they could before the end of each level, turning the game into a test of survival. I don’t know about others, but I would really enjoy playing these games online, and not just having Miiverse capabilities.
General Enjoyment (8.75/10) – Here is where NSMBU wasn’t given a chance: it was over saturated and over exposed to gamers, and many became tired and apathetic to any new entries in the franchise, including myself. This game is by far my favorite entry in this specific type of Mario game. This was the first “New” Mario game finished 100%, and even cared to do so. My wife even enjoyed playing this one (she didn’t like the other too much). It does a good job balancing fun with challenge, and never gets old, simply because of its sheer charm. I thoroughly enjoyed this game, and actually recommend it to anyone with a Wii U system (who didn’t get the bundle version).
This game changed my mind about this specific series in the Mario universe, and though it came nowhere near SM3DW, it is a worthy addition to your Wii U library. I thought for sure this wouldn’t make my list of recommendations for Wii U owners, but I have to swallow my pride and say that this is a legitimately fun game that will be a pleasant experience for the entire family.
Overall – 8/10