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5.0 out of 5 stars The successor to "Super Mario World" has finally arrived after two decades!, November 18, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: New Super Mario Bros. U (Video Game)
The successor to "Super Mario World" has finally arrived after two decades. With "New Super Mario Bros. U", for the first time since the N64, Nintendo is launching a "Super Mario Bros." title along with its new game console, a 2D side-scroller fashioned after "Super Mario World". Like other Mario titles, "New Super Mario Bros. U" is an essential purchase for the Wii U, and brings life and much needed validity to the "New Super Mario Bros." sub-series. For the first time since the induction of the "New" series, 2D Mario is truly holding its own against the truly astonishing and superb 3D titles.

Although not nearly as innovative with the 2D "New" installments as the 3D installments, the 2D installments have been massive sellers. "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" sold 26.26 million copies, more than the two Galaxy games COMBINED; so, naturally Nintendo decided to go with a 2D launch Mario title for the Wii U. However, despite tinkering with 2D Mario games for the last several years, "New Super Mario Bros. U" marks the first time Nintendo has truly went beyond what had already been done with 2D Mario into new, exciting territory.

Nintendo's modus operandi has drastically changed with Mario over the last several years.
Between 1992-2006 (14 years), Nintendo published exactly four Mario games (not counting spin-offs, etc) in the core platforming series: "Super Mario Land 2" (Gameboy 1992), "Super Mario 64" (N64 1996), "Super Mario Sunshine" (Gamecube 2002). However, in 2006-2012, Nintendo published a staggering SEVEN Mario games, and three within a year's time.

Previously, an entry in the Mario series was a major event, due to their scarity and how defining each title was to its perspective generation and hardware, especially "Super Mario 64". While Nintendo has released a flood of Mario titles between 2006-2012, these "defining experiences" were far fewer. While the three 3D games have been consistently creative, the previous three "New Super Mario Bros." titles, while entertaining, have been largely retreading ground already covered in the NES/SNES era, especially the two handheld titles, with the best easily being the Wii home console title. Nintendo designed "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" as a homage to "Super Mario Bros. 3", with chaotic multi-player added in. Although widely entertaining, "NSMBW" felt like a further extension and refinement of "SMB3".

Nintendo specifically designed "Super Mario 3D Land"as a stylistic bridge between 2D and 3D Mario titles; with "New Super Mario Bros. U", Nintendo has shown the world for the first time where they would take Mario series past the enormous shadow of the SNES "Super Mario World" if the 3D revolution had never happened, and what a world it is!

STORY: I am not going to waste space with the "story". If you don't know the (apparently) eternal struggle between Mario, Peach, and Bowser by now, you haven't been paying attention for the past few decades. Abduction is at the heart of the "narrative", and we'll leave the plot at that.

OVERWORLD: For the first time in over two decades, Nintendo has returned to a connected overworld map. The return of the overworld truly brings back the vast sense of exploration, alternate routes, and hidden secrets. While featuring the usual levels, fortresses, castles, and ghost houses, the map also features new boss fights not tied to any specific level, roving enemies, and special items obtainable only by map. You can completely bypass Frosted Glaciers.

There are eight main areas Mario will travel through: the grassy world of "Acorn Plains" (similiar to "Donut Plains"), Layer-Cake Desert (a food themed desert world, replete with Moa statues, returning for the first time since the 1989 "Super Mario Land"), Frosted Glacier (a snowy night world), Sparkling Waters (tropical paradise), Soda Jungle (a "Forest of Illusion" style rainforest), Rock-Candy Mines (a mountainous area similiar to World Six in "NSMBW"), Meringue Clouds (analogous to World 7 in NSMBW") and Peach's Castle. For the first time, the final battle with Bowser occurs not in his own castle, but Peach's Castle, which Bowser has taken over.

CHALLENGE: The previous three "New" titles felt tame in comparison, built to appeal to all players and leaving behind those who wanted a true challenge. Fortunately, the developers were able to achieve a good balance between these two extremes, much better than earlier titles. Like SMW and SMB3, the game starts out simply enough, and as you progress, the challenge and level complexity nicely ramp up, with some truly difficult sections as well. The three Star Coins create further incentive and challenge for more competent Mario players to explore all the nooks and crannies of NSMBU's various levels, while more inexperienced players can simply ignore these.

MODES: Besides the main campaign mode, NSBMU features three new modes.

1. Challenge Mode: players must complete various objectives (such as jumping on enemies while never touching the ground to obtain 1-Ups). Some are timed. Others, you are on small platforms with enemies throwing projectiles that you must dodge, or on still others you must proceed through a level without killing a single enemy. These challenges are truly testing, and provide welcome relief for those Mario players who want to be pushed to the limit. Yet these challenges retain their freshness, and while certainly difficult, never appear as too frustrating that they cannot be beaten. That alone speaks to the genius of Nintendo.

2. Boost Rush Mode: Player must reach the end of two to three selected stages, similiar to the "Coin Rush" of "NSMB2". Unlike the Coin Rush, these levels auto-scroll, speeding up everytime the player gets a coin.

3. Coin Battle: Similiar to the same mode from the Wii title, you and another player must battle for coin supremacy.

TRANSFORMATIONS/POWERUPS: Small Mario, Super Mario (Mushroom), Fire Mario (Fire Flower), Ice Mario (Ice Flower), Penguin Mario (Penguin Suit, only in challenge mode), Flying Squirrel (Super Acorn), Mini (Mini-mushroom), Invincible (Star), and P-Acorn (special item obtained by capturing Nabbit, a running rabbit). Like "Super Mario 3D Land" and the numerous racoon tails being dispensed at the game's beginning, an Acorn Tree throws millions of acorns all across the realm that Mario is travelling in, resulting in a new powerup: the Flying Squirrel. Unlike Cape or Racoon Mario, Flying Squirrel Mario only glides , with a one time boost button that allows Mario to go higher.

BOSSES: "NSMBU" features the following bosses: Boom Boom and/or Kamek (Fortress). This marks the first home console apperanance of Boom Boom since "SMB3", and only his third apperance in the series in general, after appearing in "Super Mario 3D Land". The Koopalings (who may or may not be Bowser's children, depending on what year you ask Nintendo) and Bowser Jr. also appear: Lemmy Koopa (Acorn Plains), Morton Koopa Jr. (Layer Cake Desert), Larry Koopa (Sparkling Waters), Wendy O. Koopa (Frosted Glacier), Iggy Koopa (Soda Jungle), Roy Koopa (Rock-Candy Mines), Ludwig von Koopa (Meringue Clouds), Bowser Jr. (Airships), and Bowser (Peach's Castle). Often times Mario's boss battles have been a weak point in the series; however, the developers were able to differentiate each battle to create truly memorable fights.

GRAPHICS AND AUDIO: Mario has entered into the world of HD. The game is graphically gorgeous, yet still does not rise to the level as established by "Rayman Legends". The Starry Night level of Van Gogh is stunning; yet this level of distinction is the exception, not the rule. While certainly not rudimentary, the HD graphics, while functional, do not often rise to exceptional. Same can be said for the audio.

CHARACTERS AND MULTIPLAYER: In story mode, the game supports four players: Mario, Luigi, Yellow Toad, and Blue Toad. A fifth player, using the Gamepad, can create additional platforms, but cannot control a fifth character. Miis are playable in the three additional modes, but not the story mode. Multiplayer is just as chaotic and unpredictable as NSMBW's multiplayer; in other worlds, you will either find the multiplayer fanstatically fun or rather frustrating, because, let's face it, Mario levels are really designed for one player. Regardless, I love they included multiplayer again; just be aware other plays may very well be as much a hindrance as a help.

Yoshi also appears, but is limited to specific levels, like NSMBW. There are also three types of Baby Yoshis (appearing for the first time since "Super Mario World"). Bubble Baby Yoshi release bubbles from their mouths, first appearing in Frosted Glacier. Balloon Baby Yoshi function as floating ballons, first appearing in Acorn Plains. Bulb Baby Yoshis light up dark areas, similiar to Glow Blocks form NSMBW.

CONCLUSION: For those waiting for Nintendo to rival the brilliance of Mario's 2D NES/SNES titles, rejoice! Nintendo has shown dominance in the 3D Marios and unequaled brillance. While the last three 2D games have been good (and NSMBW borderline great), these games never rose to fantastic, never felt they equaled "Super Mario World", the pinacle and logical conclusion of Nintendo's 2D design from the early 90s. No more. For the first time in over twenty years, Nintendo has made a 2D Mario game that not only returns to Mario to his 2D glory days, but even surpasses the early titles and also rivals the unmitigated brilliance so often exhibited in their utterly genius 3D entries in this storied franchise. The true successor to "Super Mario World" has finally arrived!
[Originally written as part of my review for "New Super Mario Bros. 2", I wrote this small essay explaining the state of the "Super Mario" series from 2006-2012, and how different Nintendo has handled their core franchise in this time period as opposed to their earlier titles}

The State of Super Mario:

The Super Mario franchise has been in a strange place from 2006 to 2012. There has been an onslaught of Mario games that has been unprecedented during this time frame. We have gotten seven games in six years. These are "New Super Mario Bros." (2006, DS), "Super Mario Galaxy"(2007, Wii), "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" (2009, Wii), "Super Mario Galaxy 2" (2010, Wii), "Super Mario 3D Land" (3DS, 2011), "New Super Mario Bros. 2" (3DS, 2012), and "New Super Mario Bros. U" (Wii U, 2012).

Let's compare that to Mario's first titles. From 1985 to 2002, Nintendo released exactly eight games in the core franchise: "Super Mario Bros." (1985), "Super Mario Bros. 2" (1988), "Super Mario Land" (1989), "Super Mario Bros. 3" (1990), "Super Mario World" (1991), "Super Mario Land 2" (1992), "Super Mario 64" (1996), and "Super Mario Sunshine (2002). The only other addition you could make to this would be "Super Mario All-Stars" compilation from 1993 on the SNES, where players outside of Japan got to play "Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels" (AKA "Super Mario Bros. 2" in Japan and first released in 1986 on the Famicom Disk System) for the first time. It is notable however that "The Lost Levels" was released in a compilation format and not as a stand-alone title, unlike the other titles.

Of course, there have been various spinoff titles, such as "Dr. Mario", the Mario Kart series, the Mario RPG titles, etc. Of these spinoffs, there have been some great titles, but they are spinoffs nonetheless (such as the 1995 "Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island" and 1993 "Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land". Both of these titles are fantastic, but they're not Mario games: one is a Yoshi game and one is a Wario game respectively, and both are their own starting points in a separate subseries of the Mario universe).

What's important to note is from 1992 to 2006, a time period of fourteen years, we got exactly FOUR games. Four years separate "Super Mario Land 2" from "Super Mario 64", SIX years separate "Super Mario 64" from "Super Mario Sunshine", and another four years separate "New Super Mario Bros." from "New Super Mario Bros."

So what does all this have to do with "New Super Mario Bros. 2"? Well, simple, really. Starting with the SNES, Nintendo made Mario a one game per console title (with the exception of the Gameboy). Mario games were EVENTS, especially in the 1990s and 2000s. One reason why "Super Mario Sunshine" was such a big deal was because it was the first time we got to play a new Mario game in six years. That's a long time.

Even with "New Super Mario Bros.", there was a sense of momentous occasion upon its release in 2006. Why? Because a full fourteen years had passed since Nintendo had released a side-scrolling Mario.

Well, now Mario games aren't really events anymore. We're being saturated with Mario games in the core franchise. From 2006 to 2012 we have gotten a Mario game every year. What's REALLY CRAZY is that Nintendo has released THREE Mario games in a 12 month span (SM3DL, NSMB2, and NSMBU). That is such a contrast from the 1990s.

Apparently, Nintendo has decided to go with quantity over quality. With only one exception ("The Lost Levels", which is little more than an expansion pack for the first game), each new Mario game from 1985-2002 brought something new to the table and were all pretty different from each other, while still retaining the same great gameplay Mario is known for. Each title was different and unique, while still being brilliant. Hard to pull off, but Nintendo did it.

Now, looking at the last seven titles, Nintendo has shifted their MO (modus operandi). Rather than drastically change anything up, they use the same resources and game engines across multiple titles (much like the six NES "Mega Man"titles), a thing unheard of in previous Mario games. Four of the titles are "New Super Mario Bros." \\The new Mario titles can be broken up into thee groups - the four "New" titles (2D Sidescrollers), the two "Galaxy" titles, and "3D Land". Of these, only the "Galaxy" games and "3D Land" are truly revolutionary. Strangely enough though, even the "Galaxy" games fall into this trend of as much Mario as possible. Never before as Nintendo released a numbered sequel to a 3D game, and playing "Galaxy 2" really does feel like you are playing "Galaxy 1.5", just more ideas built on the Galaxy theme. Now, to be fair, both Galaxy games are among the highest rated titles out there among reviewers and players alike, both are endlessly inventive, and personally I think "Super Mario Galaxy 2", as of 2012, stands proudly as one of the best games Nintendo has ever released, rivaling even "Ocarina of Time". In context of this discussion, however, "Super Mario Galaxy 2" does show Nintendo in hyper-Mario mode, but when the games are this good, you can't help but smile. Likewise, "Super Mario 3D Land", a stylistic bridge between 2D and 3D, along with fantastic stereoscopic 3D gameplay, is another fantastic title as well.

That leaves us with the four "New Super Mario Bros." games [of which there are four]. So many gamers were happy about "New Super Mario Bros.", simply because we hadn't had a proper 2D Mario in well over a decade. The game was a tremendous seller. Deliberetly styled as a retro-throwback, "New Super Mario Bros." followed the gameplay of the NES/SNES titles we all know and love, yet in retrospect, overall the game was short and easy and didn't really bring any new innovations to the series. "New Super Mario Bros. Wii", the first home console 2D Mario game in eighteen years, likewise followed the early Mario titles' gameplay, albeit with modern graphics and some new design decisions to appeal to modern day gaming sensibilies. Still, the Wii version played like a souped "Super Mario Bros. 3", this time with chaotic multi-player. For all the hype on the multi-player aspect, Mario's course feel designed for a single player; when you add three additional players the courses begin to feel claustrophobic. However, multi-player is tremendously fun, even though there is no online.

While the decision to release three Mario games in a calender year's time is simply unprecented, two of these are for the 3DS and one is for the Wii U. Nintendo has stated that for each console, they plan to make at least one 2D and 3D game. While "Super Mario 3D Land" is a brilliant tremendously fun title, releasing "New Super Mario Bros. 2" a mere eight months after is simply strange, especially given that four months after "New Super Mario Bros. 2", Nintendo released "New Super Mario Bros. U". The close proximity in which they were released also just intensifies the already gaping differences between the two games; while "2" is about the most generic Mario title ever, "U" stands as one of Mario's greatest 2D accomplishments.

Only time will tell if Nintendo continues Mario's heavy release schedule. While there are no "bad" Mario games (with the possible exception of "Super Mario Sunshine"), the frequent titles show Nintendo is more interested in monetizing Mario (at least, the 2D titles), than truly innovating. Hopefuly, they will find a way to return to the innovative design that has so defined their Mario output in bygone years. If the "Galaxy" games, "3D Land", and "New Super Mario Bros U." is any indication, then Mario's future remains as bright as ever.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 18, 2012 6:58:02 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2012 6:58:35 AM PST
Wait....New world environments?! OMG!!! Haven't seen that in this particular series since NSMB FIRST came into the scene! Looks like this is my kind of game. :D

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 8:19:11 AM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 25, 2013 8:29:47 PM PST
Mike London says:
Just thought you might like to know, this review is one of four that was (three from Amazon, one from a Nintendo sight), that was published fradulenty without the author's permission by a user of that goes by d0minicandude. I am the writer of the "New Super Mario Bros U" review. I have alerted Gamefaqs with the following email

"d0minicandude has published the following four reviews, all of which have been plagarized. Three of them are from Amazon and one is from a Nintendo site. Please removew these reviews.

Review 1: "Super Mario 3D Land"

"Delightfully Simplistic yet Fun! November 13, 2011, By skatastic425"

Posted on Jan 25, 2013 8:30:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2013 8:30:47 PM PST
Mike London says:
JJust thought you might like to know, this review is one of four that was (three from Amazon, one from a Nintendo sight), that was published fradulenty without the author's permission by a user of that goes by d0minicandude. I am the writer of the "New Super Mario Bros U" review. I have alerted Gamefaqs with the following email

"d0minicandude has published the following four reviews, all of which have been plagarized. Three of them are from Amazon and one is from a Nintendo site. Please removew these reviews.

Review 1: "Super Mario 3D Land"

"Delightfully Simplistic yet Fun! November 13, 2011, By skatastic425"

"Bowser Just Doesn't Give Up"

Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/15/11
Game Release: Super Mario 3D Land (US, 11/13/11)

Review 2: "Super Mario Galaxy 2"

Super Mario Galaxy 2 by Mega Man 1984:

"Galaxy to the rescue in this day and age!"
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/18/11
Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (US, 05/23/10)

Review 3: New Super Mario Bros U

The successor to "Super Mario World" has finally arrived after two decades!, November 18, 2012 By Mike London "MAC"

"Successor to Super Mario World"
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/27/12
Game Release: New Super Mario Bros. U (US, 11/18/12)

Review 4 Wii U Deluxe

"First impressions of the Deluxe WiiU -- Very enjoyable!, November 18, 2012"

Amazing piece of hardware
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/27/12
Game Release: Wii U (Deluxe Set) (US, 11/18/12)
Review by d0minicandude"

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