If Nintendo are releasing a new system, they’ll make damn sure that everyone’s favourite Italian plumber is making an appearance on its début. Nintendo’s Wii successor, the Wii U, is releasing later this year, and one of the launch titles is that of Super Mario Bros Wii U.
Despite the over-used name, the latest instalment into the Super Mario Bros series, the New Super Mario Bros, is looking to add a bunch of new features to mix up the traditional turtle-stomping formula.
The moustachioed hero’s new adventure follows the structure of the New Super Mario Bros series, which first appeared on the Wii and then made a jump to the DS. The side-scrolling multiplayer focused platformer is doing what it can to make an impression on the Wii U by utilising the tablet-like GamePad, which opens up a lot of opportunities.
Before we get into that though, the game looks striking. Mario games have always lured in fans with their vivid charm, although there’s something particularly special about New Super Mario Bros Wii U.
It could possibly be seeing Mario and his friends in high-definition, or maybe it was the four caffeine-riddled cappuccinos I had before the hands-on event; either way, it looks sharp and silky-smooth running on the new system, with a fair amount of depth added thanks to the 3D models and environments on the 2D plane.
In terms of gameplay, New Super Mario Bros. Wii U is what you’d expect, with a few added features. It all looks familiar, as you’ll leap from platform to platform on a variety of the traditionally themed Mario levels. The new squirrel suit power-up was available in the opening level, giving players who managed to nab it a brief flying ability.
In running with the emphasis on multiplayer, the main new addition is the use of the Wii U GamePad. The game can now support up to 5 players – so that’s four characters on screen (using Wii-motes), and one being a sort-of puppet-master for the rest of the crew. The player using the GamePad doesn’t have any physical presence on the screen, but can drop platforms and blocks into the game by using the touch screen. So if Mario is about to fall down a hole, just tap the screen and drop in a life-saving platform, or if Luigi can’t reach a hidden coin, build a series of blocks for him to climb up.
Players can also choose to hinder the others as opposed to helping them. You can drop a block mid-air and interrupt a jump; or box someone in with some goombas to deal with. It does add a fair amount of co-operative (or competitive) elements to the run-and-jump gameplay.
From what was on show, there’s nothing particularly “game-changing” about the way the game plays out, although it doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Jumping around with your buddies will always be a nostalgic attraction, but hopefully Nintendo have some more tricks up their sleeve with Mario’’ Wii U debut.