Adelaide based aspiring freelance journalist, casual Hansard reporter for SA Parliament, keen netballer and history nerd. I blog sometimes about other non-WeekendNotes stuff at emilykate57.wordpress.com/
Published January 6th 2013
Old school gaming, brand new console
It's Mario time.
With the debut of the Wii U, Nintendo have also released their flagship title, New Super Mario Bros. U. In many respects, this is the same Mario game that has been re-released periodically since the late 1980s, but with a few new twists.
Like its predecessor title, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, NSMB U opens with a charming cut scene in which Princess Peach is (OMG!) kidnapped. Mario and company are flung skyward to the beginning of Acorn Plains and we are treated to an unnecessarily long panning view of the world we are about to defeat. If there's one thing a Mario game doesn't need, it's an explanation of the game by way of unskippable cinematics. Seriously, Nintendo, let's get on with it.
Once we're finally allowed to control Mario and enter levels, the aesthetics of this game are appreciable. This is the first Mario title available in HD, and it does not disappoint. Goombas and koopas jump out from the screen, coins twirl and shine, and the dread that is inspired by the obligatory water world we all know and hate is muted somewhat by the fact that it is very, very pretty to look at. World 5, Soda Jungle, features artwork inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night which melds seamlessly into the level design.
Co-op mode, in which up to four players make their way through levels on the same screen, remains an attractive feature. Prepare to spend many hours yelling and laughing as you 'accidentally' eat your friends with your Yoshi, jump on their heads, steal their 1ups and throw koopa shells at them.
Co-op is played using the regular Wiimotes, and the gamepad can also be utilised as like the silent fifth player. They don't get a character on screen but they can influence the game by popping enemies and creating blocks for players to jump on.
One new power-up is available: an acorn that turns Mario into a flying squirrel, ears and all, which allows him to glide and boost in the air. The acorn replaces the propeller cap from the Wii game; also missing is the frankly adorable penguin suit, which made ice worlds a breeze. (Spoiler/tip: if you gain access to the levels on the Superstar Road, you can get the old cap/penguin power ups from the mushroom houses there!)
There are lots of other little differences that make this game a slightly different experience to the first Wii game, and while some aspects have been disappointing, others are quite impressive.
At the end of the day, Nintendo have created another creative Mario game with carefully designed levels and a fairly gentle difficulty curve (until you get to World 6, that is). The only part of this gaming experience that jars is its unnecessary cinematic elements, but other than that, be prepared to have a damn good time.