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New Super Mario Bros. U

mariobrosucover

Good thing I had this image to go by… Otherwise I really would’ve messed up the title.

Another Nintendo system, another Mario game. Don’t take that statement as a complaint. Mario Bros. on the NES was my first video game ever. I don’t care that they’re still making Mario games over 20 years later. I always enjoy them, and even though it’s a lot of “same old,” they always manage to throw in one or two different elements to make it feel fresh and (almost always) fun.

Did you play the Wii Super Mario Bros. game? If you did, this game is quite similar. Unfortunately the non-intuitive “Shake the Wiimote to do 5 different things” is still present. I hated it then, I hated it in Donkey Kong Country Returns, and I hate it here. ESPECIALLY when you’re playing co-op… We always managed to pick each other up when we meant to do something else. And there’s no graceful way to put your friend down. You always have to throw them into a pit when they aren’t looking so they can’t bubble in time. It’s an unwritten law, I swear.

Another feature I wish they would’ve altered during co-op is the stupid “bouncing off of your cohort’s head” thing. In later levels that require landing on small platforms while dodging spiky enemies and fireballs and continuously jumping so the platform doesn’t fall out from beneath you, it’s so frustrating you just won’t bother. One person will choose to stay dead and let the other one traverse the stage uninterrupted. Why couldn’t you manually press a button if, for some godforsaken reason, you actually wanted to bounce on top Toad’s head over and over and over until he jumped and sent you careening into a pit? Instead, I automatically did it all the time when I actually never wanted to!

mariobrosujumping

This would be chaos. Pure, unmitigated chaos.

The above image clearly illustrates some of the game’s new features. Utilizing the GamePad, another player can create colorful platforms. On the world map you’ll sometimes see a pink or blue chibi Yoshi. You can bring them into the level to assist you (AKA- Get hidden stuff). To compile your annoyance, these cute little guys won’t just WAIT if you need to put them down for any reason. They’ll turn around and waste no time in finding the quickest way to commit suicide. Then you’re screwed out of whatever you were trying to get for a few attempts. When you die and pop back out on the map, the Yoshi won’t be waiting for you to go for another round. Apparently regeneration for Yoshis takes a little longer than Mario brothers and Toads.

There’s also a sweet new acorn power-up (See yellow Toad in above image) that allows you to glide. With a shake of the Wiimote, it will also give you some more air. Worried this will make the game too easy? Don’t worry, they put a lot of tricky hidden pipes and star coins in spots where you absolutely need the squirrely suit. Just to add to your frustration a little.

Granted, most of the misery was self-inflicted on our part. We wanted to collect every single star coin to unlock the secret world, then get all the star coins there, too. While playing this game, I got the impression Nintendo was responding to negative feedback from gamers claiming the games have become “too easy.” There is nothing easy about this game if you’re aiming to collect every star coin. The first couple of worlds lure you into a false sense of security. But before you know it, you’re pounding your head against the wall trying to make it to that one hidden pipe without losing your necessary power-up. One particular example that comes to mind: Steve-O and I (with the assistance of my hubby when he got home from work) spent the better part of a night trying to make it halfway through a boss castle without losing the one mini mushroom we were given way at the beginning to be able to enter a small pipe leading to a star coin. That level was pretty unforgiving and difficult. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to erase it from my mind.

Or how about on Superstar Road? There’s a level on this special world that requires precise timing and perfect jump maneuvers to complete. It has to be one of, if not the, most difficult Mario stage ever. Can’t play the “easy”  card on this game. Really, the only way it could be called “easy” is if you scale difficulty with repetition. The older games would start you all over at world 1 with a Game Over. Nowadays that isn’t the case, of course. We’re saved time and boredom from doing the same levels so many times we could do them blindfolded. Even I can still almost perfectly execute those World 1 stages in the NES Mario games. It makes them more annoying and frustrating, not necessarily harder. Maybe some expert gamers might find this game easy, but I’d  bet they’re the same people who think the NES games are easy too. Personally, there were levels that challenged me just as much as the 8-bit Mario adventures did oh so many years ago.

This game is definitely a Wii U staple. I think it’s nearly impossible to own a Wii U without this game, but if you happen to be one of the few, grab this game and a couple of friends (Or don’t, depending on how much longer you want to be friends) and have at it!

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