New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has leapt onto Nintendo Switch! How does this enhanced version improve upon its Wii U counterpart?
Wii U may not have been a big commercial success but it sure did offer an incredible library of Nintendo games to play. Many of these critically acclaimed games are finding new life (and a wider audience) on Nintendo Switch, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, and Captain Toad Treasure Tracker.
The latest game to make its triumphant return is New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, a souped-up version of the Wii U’s big Mario launch title. This 2D side-scrolling platformer is the first Mario game presented in HD and takes inspiration from classic Mario games like Super Mario Bros. (NES) and Super Mario World (SNES). So, what’s new in this “Deluxe” version? Lots! New characters, new modes, bonus DLC, and much more. Let’s take a visit to the Mushroom Kingdom and explore what this game has to offer.
Bowser is up to his old tricks, again!
The story in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe puts a fun twist on the standard “save the princess” trope we’ve seen in countless Mario games before. This time, Bowser decides to not only snatch Princess Peach but also commandeer the entire Mushroom Castle. During this ordeal, Bowser uses his gigantic mechanical hand to hurl Mario and pals far from the castle.
Fortuitously, Mario and friends crash land into a huge acorn tree that sends Super Acorns flying across the Mushroom Kingdom. This brand new power-up transforms our heroes into their Flying Squirrel form, allowing them to lightly glide and stick to wall surfaces. It’s an ability that comes in handy as our crew must travel through eight new worlds—full of platforming and enemies—on their way back to the castle. Mario has a lot to contend with, not only is Bowser waiting for him, but so are Bowser Jr., the Koopalings, and Kamek!
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2D platforming perfection
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe includes 164 platforming courses across its two main game modes—New Super Mario U and New Super Luigi U. Levels are a mix of classic side-scrolling and vertical climbs, challenging you to collect items, defeat enemies, and complete platforming segments. Much like previous Super Mario games, the eight worlds span a variety of environments, such as grasslands, lakes, snowy mountains, jungles, clouds, and lava.
First and foremost, your goal is to complete courses and nab the end stage flagpole. Along the way, you’ll be collecting coins, hunting down each stage’s three Star Coins, bopping enemies on the head, and collecting power-ups. Speaking of power-ups, there are tons of cool ones included this time, like the Fire Flower, Ice Flower, Penguin Suit, Mini Mushroom, and Propeller Suit. There’s also the Flying Squirrel I mentioned earlier, which grants you the ability to glide and grab onto walls. Not only is it fun to transform into so many neat suits, but you’ll often find a particular suit is needed to access secret areas or find hidden stage exits.
As we’ve come to expect, the platforming in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is top notch. There’s plenty of stage variety, fun boss battles against the Koopalings, and many secrets to uncover. From a presentation perspective, the HD graphics are crisp, colourful and charming. You’ll also find familiar, remixed Super Mario tunes, and some fun new tracks that fit in well with the game’s upbeat tempo.
Nabbit and Toadette are here to help
In addition to Mario, Luigi, and Yellow Toad, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe ups the playable roster by two with the inclusion of Nabbit and Toadette. Both characters come with special gameplay assists designed to help younger players complete courses easier or give adult gamers like me a lighter challenge.
If you’ve played New Super Luigi U you’ll already be familiar with Nabbit: he’s invincible except for falling down holes and touching fire. This makes him by far the easiest character to complete courses with and is perfect for children. Nabbit can run past enemies with ease, grab items with relative impunity, and can even walk on spikes harm-free.
Next, we have Toadette, a far more interesting addition due to her ability to grab a Super Crown power-up and turn into Peachette. She’s exactly what the name implies—a “Peach-ified” version of Toadette that wears an adorable mushroom crown, pink bow, and a polka dot dress. As Peachette, you’ll gain Peach’s signature floating jump, along with a double jump and the ability to survive falling into a pit once. Furthermore, blocks that would normally give you a 1-Up Mushroom instead give you a 3-Up Moon. Whereas Nabbit reduces the challenge to near nil, Peachette makes platforming and defeating enemies somewhat simpler.
To make New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe even more accessible, failing a course five times unlocks a Super Guide Block that offers a demonstration of how to clear the level. There’s also a new Hints gallery and helpful reference videos showing how to complete courses, find Star Coins or get easy 1-Ups. The game also supports up to four players, and during multiplayer, you can press L + R to temporarily enter an invincible bubble. This is great for parents as it enables your child to hop into a bubble while you complete challenging sections solo, then afterwards they can “pop” out.
New Super Luigi U bundled in
As a nice bonus, you get the New Super Luigi U expansion packed in for free. This game marks Luigi’s first starring role in a platform adventure ever and was part of Nintendo’s “Year of Luigi” promotion to celebrate his 30th anniversary.
The premise of New Super Luigi U is simple: in a re-imagined scenario, the events of New Super Mario Bros. U occur without Mario present, making Luigi the star. Story-wise, it’s exactly the same albeit with subtle changes such as the opening scene inside Peach’s castle showing Mario’s cap laying on an empty seat, implying that he’s away somewhere. Peach cries out for “Luigi” instead of Mario after her kidnap, which further reinforces the idea that this is Luigi’s time to shine.
Not only is the story the same, but New Super Luigi U reuses the same world map as before, containing familiar areas such as Acorn Plains, Soda Jungle, and Meringue Clouds. While the locations are the same, each of the 82 courses has gone through major changes, and aside from the reused art assets, practically everything about them feels brand new. Courses are much shorter, contain new dangers and sometimes new enemies, and the difficulty has been turned up several notches. As well, the time limit for each course has been reduced to 100 seconds so immediately you’ll hear the “hurry up!” jingle urging you to run like the wind.
Luigi’s unique characteristics, intentionally, also add to the challenge. He retains his signature higher jumps, which allow him to stay in the air much longer than Mario, at the cost of less traction that makes him slide while stopping. Precision really isn’t Luigi’s forte as his floaty jumps take some time to get used to, as does mastering the required room needed to come to a full stop while running. With immense time pressure to complete courses, expect to be running more than you are walking, and accept the inevitability of some accidental deaths while you learn the ins-and-outs of controlling Luigi. Thankfully, you can play as Nabbit or Toadette who not only lighten the platforming challenge but also add another 100 seconds onto the countdown clock.
Three extra game modes
On top of two full campaigns, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe contains three additional modes for extended replay. Your character selection options vary by mode, and you also get the chance to play as custom Mii characters you’ve created.
The first mode is Boost Rush, and it’s all about speed. These challenge courses auto scroll to the right, and your goal is to collect coins that increase the scrolling speed. Your fastest completion time is recorded, prompting you to replay and better your time. I found this mode a bit difficult, particularly doing tricky platforming moves at breakneck speeds, but that’s all part of the fun!
The next mode is Challenges, and here you’re tasked to complete numerous skill tests. Examples of the challenges you’ll face are Time Attack (beat the clock), Coin Collection (collect a certain number of coins within a time limit), and Special challenges like dodging fireballs for 40 seconds. To make this mode harder, you cannot use Nabbit and Toadette, meaning you’ll need to make do with Mario, Luigi, or Yellow Toad. What’s cool is there are levels in Challenge mode not found in the main game!
Finally, the last included mode is the multiplayer only Coin Battle. Your objective is to collect the most coins within a time limit and the action can be pretty frantic. Coin Battle can be played as an every-person-for-themselves free for all, or you can join forces for a 2 vs. 2 team battle. If you’re looking for old school Mario fun, this is where you’ll find it.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is pure platforming fun
There’s a lot to love about New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. The graphics are bold and beautiful, the story is light and whimsical. It’s so much fun to see how Nintendo has updated all our favourite characters in a new high definition environment. The game provides plenty of challenge, yet is still approachable for younger gamers thanks to the new characters Nabbit and Toadette. I also love that I can play the game directly on the Switch in handheld mode, and have 4-player with my family.
Sure, I would like to have seen a few more updates from the Wii U version, but there’s enough in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe to keep even the most die-hard Mario fan happy. If you have a Nintendo Switch, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a must buy!
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – Pros:
- Huge variety – 164 courses
- Colourful, charming HD visuals
- Nabbit and Toadette are great for beginners
- Interesting and varied power-up suits
- Tight, precision platforming
- Three bonus modes for extended replay
- 4-player multiplayer – fun for families
- The best way to play New Super Mario Bros. U
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – Cons:
- Level design not quite up to par with classics like Super Mario World
- Modest updates from the Wii U version
- Gameplay: 8.5/10
- Graphics: 8/10
- Sound: 8.5/10
- Replayability: 9/10
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