We spoke a little about New Super Mario Bros U‘s multiplayer, but for many of us the single player experience may be the only one we actively play. Thankfully, it’s also one of the most solid Mario experiences we’ve come across yet.
For those of us who love Mario but may be getting a little burnt out by all of the sidescrolling editions issued in recent years, this one might end up being the coup de grâce. For one, the visuals are in glorious HD, with painterly backgrounds and scrolling reminiscent of last year’s wonderful Rayman Origins. Several set pieces reminded me of Super Mario World‘s crystalline landscapes and “happy hills”. Mario himself, although expertly animated, seemed a little bland by comparison. I still like the Mario from Super Smash Bros Brawl, myself.
Three levels were available to play on the show floor: a wobbly mushroom plateau world, a night level, and a traditional Mario introductory green hill zone. Each level had the traditional middle flag and ending flagpole. Out of the three I played, it was the night world that stole the show. The subtle glowing (and rotating) stars, a soft spotlight, and a snowy landscape provide an eerie, almost Dickens’ Christmas feel.
The controls are the same as ever, but the new powerups I used required handling in a different way. The first one I used was a new squirrel suit, which is used for gliding after jumps. The other is a baby Yoshi that inflates like a balloon to carry Mario into the air. The balloon deflates after a while, and the controller needs to be shaken to re-inflate him. Or her. Who knows, we never found out Yoshi’s sex.
The game also uses the second screen of the Gamepad to… well… not do much in this demo. Yes, the video streamed to it, and could be switched back and forth, but it only acted like a big controller for me. I was told that it would be used for more in the final version, but we’ll see.
New Super Mario Bros U releases this Fall as a Wii U launch title.