The good old days
Its harder to find bigger Mario fans than us, but after Augusts New Super Mario Bros 2, it felt like we could really use a little break from Marios platforming. Fast forward two months to when weve played more than half of the upcoming New Super Mario Bros U and are dying to finish it. Why are we so sold on the Wii U launch game? Because of our endless love for Super Mario World.
After beating the first five worlds, we couldnt help but notice all the lessons New Super Mario Bros U learned from Super Mario World. Beyond surface level references, NSMBU is a tribute to whats great about the SNES original. Lets start with
Yoshi is a plumbers best friend
Yoshi has been in so many Mario games since he first appeared in World that his special skills are in danger of becoming commonplace. But NSMBU does its best to make him special again. Much like in New Super Mario Bros Wii, Yoshi is limited to the stage you find him in, but now he acts much more like his World self, particularly in his ability to drop power-ups after eating enough fruit. Meanwhile, the Baby Yoshis are back for their first real appearance since World, and they have the same ravenous appetite for eating any enemy that stands in front of them. Still, no matter how many they eat, they stay the same adorable size, or at least thats true for the pink, blue, and yellow varieties we came across.
Its deeper than its predecessor
New Super Mario Bros 2 was full of brief levels, challenging affairs made to be played on brief train rides. The stages were fast and furious, just like in Super Mario Bros 3. Fans will remember Super Mario World took what 3 did so well and incorporated that into bigger, more varied stages that tested a players endurance as well as their reflexes. NSMBU does the same with diverse levels whose complexity puts the last Mario game to shame. Without NSMB2s gold coin gimmick to hide behind, the stages are forced to stand on their own merits, filled with new challenges that will entertain Mario veterans and newcomers alike.
The Forest of Illusion returns
NSMBU is the first Mario game ever to have a seamless, continuous world map, and that sprawling overworld is laid out similarly to the one in Super Mario World. The homages get much more overt in the shadowy midpoint of NSMBUs fifth section. There youll find an extended riff on Worlds Forest of Illusion, one of the trickier portions of that game. NSMBUs forest has the same commitment to confusing the player with false exits and roads that go nowhere. NSMBUs reference is made all the more direct by the fact that the screen pixelates when you enter the forest.
Stages made to show off the new graphics
Packed in with the SNES when it launched, Super Mario World was tasked with showing off the new graphical prowess of the system, like in its colorful levels that used the new Mode 7 sprite rotation. NSMBU has a similar responsibility as one of Nintendos first HD games, and while it wasnt true for every stage we played, a few really impressed us with their visuals. Particularly praiseworthy of the first five worlds was the stage inspired by Van Goghs Starry Night painting. The brushstrokes in the background and artistry of the stage make the most of the new HD canvas.
The promise of secret exits to come
Super Mario World had dozens of exits to its stages, some so skillfully hidden that they were virtually impossible to find without a guide. After spending hours with NSBMU, we came across no fewer than three different secret exits, but we know thats only the beginning. If we were able to find a trio of hidden flag poles without really looking, just imagine how well hidden the secret exits are in levels like the haunted houses.
The Koopalings have some new tricks
Missing until a few years ago, the Koopalings--Bowsers seven bratty children--have returned again in NSMNBU. As usual, each reptilian tike guards the castle of a different world, but not all of them are using the same strategy. Instead of repeating the patterns theyve used for over 20 years, be ready for them to pull out some intriguing new battle tactics. Perhaps they picked them up from Bowser Jr., the annoying Koopa namesake thats just waiting for the perfect time to drop an airship on Mario.
Bigger stages, greater challenge
Super Mario World did a great job of expanding the scope and richness of a traditional Mario stage, and we can say the same for what weve seen in NSMBU. You can best experience the vastness of some of its levels when playing with at least two players. In multiplayer the camera pulls back fairly far, and unlike the empty space of previous New Mario games, in NSMBU you can tell the developers took advantage of the space in front of them. Many levels are dense with areas to explore, and the scope is especially easy to appreciate on an HDTV.
Tons of replay value
Super Mario World got much of its replay value from the huge number of secrets to find in the game, and while NSMBU has secrets as well, its more than that. NSMBU has dozens of extra challenge modes to vex high level players. Players will be tasked with speed runs, grabbing as few coins as possible in a level, or seeing how many 1-Ups they can collect without touching the ground, and much more. The many included minigames will likely test Mario experts for hours after they save Princess Peach.
How super can it be?
Now that weve played such a huge portion of New Super Mario Bros U, we cant wait to play the final game when it launches with the Wii U November 18. Keep a look out for our review soon, and in the meantime, why not tell us in the comments if youre sold yet on the next adventure of Nintendos mascot.