New Super Mario Bros. U Review [Wii U]

I have to admit, I rolled my eyes a little when the first trailer for New Super Mario Bros. U was shown. I had played the original New Super Mario Bros. DS game to death, and then went back for seconds with the Wii version, and this Wii U version looked like far too much of the same. Did Nintendo provide a pleasant surprise and prove me wrong? Well, the short answer is no. However, the long answer is a bit more complicated.

New Super Mario Bros. U starts with a Koopa airship attacking Princess Peach’s castle. Rather than kidnapping the Princess as per usual, a massive mechanical Bowser hand appears from the airship and swats Mario and Luigi miles away. This is where the journey begins.

[drop]The game is split up into eight worlds, and sees the return of the world map. You can scroll across the map at any time, and it shows completed levels, levels that have yet to be played, item shops and places where you can earn 1-ups. Occasionally there are also little interactive segments where you have to dodge enemies, or remember a certain pattern to proceed.


The world map is also where you’ll get the first glimpse of the Wii U’s ‘Miiverse’. After approaching it with a somewhat uninterested attitude, I must say Miiverse has totally won me over and almost acts like a trophy system. Have you done particularly well on a level? Well you can post a message and brag about it. You’ll often spot little red balloons in the world map, and these contain messages from people who have completed that level – be it helpful hints or someone simply showing off the fact they aced the level without taking damage. That constant sense of community is very appealing.

In terms of the gameplay, it’s a case of same-old Mario. This may sound like an insult, but the platforming is nigh-on perfect with a good sense of weight. There’s also a heck of a lot to do, and even if you just rush through the levels you can still expect a 10 hour+ game. To do that, though, would be a shame as a lot of the fun is in hunting out each level’s three star coins. Some are easy to get, others are well hidden, and often one will be in plain sight but require some dexterous finger-work to reach.

In terms of new things, there’s a squirrel suit that allows Mario to glide for a period of time, as well as giving him a one-use vertical boost and the ability to stick to walls for a few seconds. The gliding and boost are welcome, the wall-sticking not so much. Occasionally you also meet these fat little baby Yoshis who have different abilities (don’t worry, regular Yoshis are around too).

Outside of the story mode you’ll find the challenge mode and coin rush mode. The challenge mode is broken down into levels, with each one presenting a particular requirement that must be fulfilled. Played in small doses it is actually quite addictive, and will certainly provide a challenge to those wanting to test their platforming skills.

In coin rush the objective is to get to the end of the level as quickly as possible. The only way to do this is to continually collect coins. The more you collect, the faster the level scrolls and the better completion time you’ll receive. Again, it’s a great mode.

In terms of multiplayer, it’s local play only, and I was unable to test it out with a full group of people. However, with a couple of people on the go it’s a decent experience, with the person using the GamePad able to help or hinder the others by placing blocks in the way.

Speaking of the GamePad, it works surprisingly well. Initially it takes some getting used to, as the D-pad and buttons are spaced wider apart than normal, but that feeling is soon overcome. Then there’s the ability to play the whole game on the GamePad’s screen rather than the TV. I love this feature, and actually used it a good 70% of the time; playing a console Mario game whilst on the loo is a somewhat novel experience (and possibly too much information). Those worried that the game won’t look any good on a non-HD screen can rest easy, it still looks sharp.

[drop2]So it’s all rather positive then? Well… not really, and this is where things get a bit muddy and many people will disagree. Whilst it’s true that absolutely everything is well done, I find myself unable to get excited about New Super Mario Bros. U in the slightest. The visuals are super shiny but, bar a couple of places, look almost identical to the “New” games I played years ago.

There’s the lava world, the ice world, the desert world, the water world; it’s like someone hit copy and paste from the older games. Then there’s the music, which again sounds like it has been recycled from previous games (“wah wah!”). I’ll also give you a guess as to how many times you have to jump on a boss’ head.

New Super Mario Bros. U just feels flat. There’s very little of the flair seen in Mario’s 3D outings, and this feeling is exacerbated by the fact New Super Mario Bros. 2 was only just released on the 3DS a couple of months ago.

What’s Good

  • Lots of content.
  • A few secrets for those willing to look.
  • Playing on the GamePad is awesome.
  • Miiverse is great.

What’s Bad

  • It’s very hard to feel excited about this game.
  • A lot of stuff feels like it has been recycled from previous “New” games.

Please don’t look at the score below and automatically think this is a bad Mario game – it’s not. It’s definitely the best of the “New” games, but I could argue that’s because each one is almost a copy of the last, with a few refinements. If you buy Super Mario Bros. U I have no doubt you will have an enjoyable time, but I’d also wager money that this time next month you won’t even remember it.

Good, but ultimately forgettable.

Score: 7/10



  1. “but I’d also wager money that this time next month you won’t even remember it”
    ^^ the pace me and my other half get through games I’m fairly sure we will still be playing through it this time next month lol ;D

    Nice review and completely fair. The game doesn’t do anything new but, as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” :)

    • I don’t get how the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ can be justified here but not in other cases such as Call of Duty. A lot of people still call CoD’s multiplayer ‘recycled’ and ‘unchanged’, but surely that saying can apply there also? Top notch MP experience that doesn’t really need to change.

      Not saying that you say this of course, just saying lol.

      • Lol, its cool. For the record I actually quite enjoy the COD series, particularly the Black Ops ones :)

      • That’s how I feel. This statement “the visuals are super shiny but, bar a couple of places, look almost identical to the “New” games I played years ago” frustrates the hell out of me. There is no other games maker like Nintendo for recycling things. I know Mario sells well but how this recycling used to garner such scores is truly beyond me. I can’t help that the makers should now start to see some sort of punishment for such things. Sure, I’m happy with others being suitably punished (in scores) too but Nintendo seem to abuse it and then some.

  2. I do enjoy a blast on Mario every now an then, a reminder of great adventures, bright and colourful visuals, memorable characters and basic puzzles.
    This one sounds good but it won’t sell me the system and for me to consider the Wii U you are going to have to create something very special indeed Nintendo! I asked my 8 year old son if he’d like one, he answered with rather spending the money on Lego Lord of the Rings, Batman 2 and said he’d rather play Uncharted. This is your Target audience Ninty :-/

  3. The Wii U is going to be a strange beast to write about. Take for example;

    “New Super Mario Bros. U starts with a Koopa airship attacking Princess Peach’s castle”

    Because of the way i am guessing it has to be written (with the full stop between the ‘Bros’ & the ‘U’), it looks like two seperate sentences & looks like Dan has gone a bit common if you take the second part as a sentence on its own;

    “U starts with a Koopa airship attacking Princess Peach’s castle”

    Vicki Pollard came to mind. :)

    • “U starts with a Koopa airship attacking Princess Peach’s castle”
      Sounds like a refreshing change of pace… :)

      • I’d buy that! Playing the bad guys side in some way sounds like fun.

  4. Best thing about this game is LITTLE BABY YOSHI’S.

  5. I tried the 3DS game last week and was very underwhelmed by it. The games just aren’t as good as the old ones in any way, partly because they try to mimic them. And then there’s the recycling. Individual levels doesn’t stand out like they used to either.

    • When you get your Wii-U (judging by your past comments it certainly sounds like you are planning on getting one at some point) you might want to rent this game and give it a try. There are a lot of standout levels in this one, unlike the new 3DS game which I agree feels very recycled

      • I think if you look at the reviews for both games, the general consensus is that the new 3DS Mario manages to feel tired whilst the Wii U one manages to avoid it (just).

        Mario U is a fantastic platformer, and whilst I fully expect Rayman Legends to be far more revolutionary when it’s released next year there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had from Mario’s new adventure. I do sincerely hope though that we hear about the next 3D Mario soon!

      • Yeah, I do kinda want one, but it needs more games first. Maybe I’ll buy one next summer, it depends on when the Ps4 is out.

        There’s no way of renting games where I live though, but it’ll probably be relatively cheap by then. Nintendo games tend to hold their price up very well. I do love Mario, but the “New” games have yet to grab me.

  6. I’m absolutely sick of these rehashed versions of the same game year after year. I can completely understand the business sense in doing this, but from a gamers point of view I feel like it’s so insulting. But I guess if people keep buying them, they’re going to continue making them.

  7. Oh, give in Nintendo. 2D-wise, they’ll never top Super Mario World on the SNES.

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