New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
A little over six years ago, New Super Mario Bros. U was released to a decent response on Wii U, though it might be fair to say that it didn't quite reach as large an audience as it might otherwise have thanks to the console's somewhat lacking sales. It's always a shame when a fun game gets lost to obscurity and it seems Nintendo feels the same way because they've put together and just released a definitive edition of the game for Switch - New Super Mario Bro. U Deluxe.
As seasoned Nintendo fans might well expect from a 2D Mario title, you'll be making your way across a map full of stages that are designed to take each and every ability available to Mario and push you to use them to their utmost. Hidden routes lurk inside walls and above the confines of stages, calling back to famous secrets of yesteryear, while a mix of old and new enemy types and obstacles try to steal precious lives away. Mario 3 seems to be the strongest influence of all, with the Koopalings returning as nostalgia inducing level bosses. It's a combination of elements that Mario fans will know well, but ought to be entirely pleased by given the core ideas here could easily have the old adage "if it isn't broken, don't try to fix it" applied.
The thing that really makes New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe stand out alongside other entries in the series is the inclusion of multiplayer. While the gameplay in general fits the well established mold of running, jumping and using power ups to progress, level design here is such that up to four players can join in at once to help or hinder each other. It's an ideal way for someone to teach a new player, with two of the available characters acting as Easy and Super Easy modes, removing death by pitfalls and offering floating, easily controlled jumps so that even the most inexperienced players can make it to the end of each stage. It's frantic and can at times be frustrating when progress halts, but it's a bit of cooperative fun regardless.
In typical style for a first party Nintendo title, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a delightful mix of bright colours, characterful animations and pleasingly cute designs. A brief six years after it's initial release, everything about the game is still appealing to the eye, with a mix of old school designs from previous games set alongside newer ideas like the Super Acorn suit, Penguin Suit and the assorted new enemies built to match those power ups. Stages have a ton of unique hazards and scenery, with many featuring puzzles that test lateral thinking and your skill with new power ups. Most often, these more difficult sections feature one of three huge collectible coins that are hidden on each stage, the markers of having truly completed a course.
Musically, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a little limited compared to more recent outings like Mario Odyssey, with simple riffs making up most of the score and variations on those themes being used to help mix things up between stages. Picking up a baby Yoshi tweaks each track a little too, adding a choir of Yoshi's singing soft background vocals. The callbacks to previous games aren't limited to the graphical design either, with many courses featuring allusions to classic tunes such as Super Mario Bros. Underground Theme. There are more than enough catchy earworms just waiting to slip into your brain and provoke some humming or whistling, the main theme in particular is gloriously catchy. Give me another week of humming it to myself and I might think differently of course...
Time hasn't affected the quality of New Super Mario Bros. U at all, with it's tried and tested gameplay as well as it's lovingly polished art direction and music being just as much fun and just as pleasing as it was on it's original release day. Adding the more somewhat more difficult Super Luigi U DLC into the package on top of this already fully featured game means that those looking for a challenge will be well met to boot. Curious franchise veterans who know this game already will likely do well to wait on a sale because there's little that's truly new here, but for those fresh to New Super Mario Bros. U this Deluxe re-release is certainly worth your attention and money.