New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe review: Just Peachy

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the latest Wii U title to get a Switch port. Does it live up to its legacy or does it get chain chomped?

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While its time on this Earth was brief, the Wii U certainly had some decent games that no one ever played. Fortunately, we were all blessed with the invention of the Nintendo Switch and many titles that were never given a fair shake are now getting a second shot at life on the console. The latest first-party title to make the transition, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe contains not only the original Wii U title, but also contains a healthy dose of new content for fans to enjoy. But is it a full meal or just a snack?

Mama mia! Here we go again

New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe Screenshot

The tale of the Mario games is an ancient one that date backs nearly half a decade and is pretty well known by most gamers: Bowser kidnaps the princess. Plumbers search castles for Princess. Plumbers save the princess. Of course, the main story formula doesn’t stray too far from the path. This time around Mario and his cohorts must face off against Bowser and his Koopa kids as they make their way to the heart of the Mushroom Kingdom to once again save Princess Peach.

Along with the usual suspects, players are now able to play as Nabbit or Toadette. Each of these new characters seems to be targeted towards younger players who may have a hard time dealing with the more nuanced features of a platformer like this. Nabbit can’t use power-ups but can collect coins and is invulnerable to enemies. Toadette ups the ante a bit and can not only use all the game’s available upgrades but also has her own special crown item that will turn her into “Peachette,” a Princess Peach look-alike with a double jump ability and the ability to turn question blocks with 1-up mushrooms in them into 3-up moons.

I can understand why they’ve made characters that ebb the challenge for younger players, but at the same time, I’m a bit of a grandpa about it. Back in my day, we didn’t have to walk uphill in the snow both ways just to play some Mario, but the game’s challenge was in and of itself the main reason for coming back. I’ve just never seen these games as being so challenging that a younger audience couldn’t handle it. The only thing I can think of is that maybe it’s a by-product of having an intense multiplayer built in.

Multiplayer mode is still a chaotic experience, but I found it more manageable this time around than I did when the mechanic was introduced on the Wii. Fortunately, the frantic madness of four people of varying degrees of skill and experience all playing a platformer at the same time is offset by some of the mechanics. Players being put in a bubble when they die for another player to pop instead of having to wait for the level to finish to keep playing is a good example of this.

Levels run the gamut through all the various terrains you would expect in a Super Mario game. Green fields, in the beginning, lead to frozen tundras, mountainous slopes, underground caverns, and underwater explorations to name a few. Boo houses and mini-boss castles are thrown in for good measure. Each world area ends with a more challenging Koopa Kid castle and showdown. Levels are a hodgepodge of various features or challenges that we’ve seen from past iterations of the side-scrolling platformer, but, except for one motion control feature that’s introduced toward the end of the game, it’s pretty par for the course. While I appreciate the familiarity, there wasn’t anything that really wowed me in terms of new innovations. I also thought the levels themselves were a bit short compared to past entries. Each level felt like a nibble instead of a bite.

Clearing the pipes

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Action Screenshot

While the levels themselves may be shorter than I prefer, there is a hefty amount of content to unlock. Hunting down all three super gold coins on each level to unlock hidden levels later on gives players a reason to revisit areas. And finding secret exits to levels add a healthy dose of replay value to the whole experience that’s very on par with previous versions.

Along with the main game, there are also two new modes to expand play time. Challenge mode has players doing things like trying to jump on as many enemies as they can in a row to get extra lives. Boost Rush mode involves going for the shortest course time by collecting coins to make the level speed up. If that wasn’t enough, the Switch version of New Super Mario Bros. U also comes with New Super Luigi U. Both of the new modes definitely offer up a new twist on an old game, but while some challenges are the good kind of frustrating, others aren’t quite as fun. And while Super Luigi is a great addition to the collection, it’s mostly just a speed-run version of the regular game with slightly different jump and run mechanics.

Another castle

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Toad Action Screensot

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe isn’t without its faults. I really think that the levels needed to be longer or provide a bit more of a challenge for seasoned players as opposed to watering things down for a younger audience who probably could’ve handled a regular challenge in the first place. I can’t help but feel like so much of this game was spoon fed to me. I definitely finished this a heck of a lot quicker than I had any previous Mario games.

Maybe it’s because I grew up having my mind blown by Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, but side-scrolling Mario games have always had a place in my heart. While I wouldn’t put this latest entry on the same pedestal, this is still a very solid game with a lot of what we’ve all come to love about the series thrown into a melting pot. I don’t think Nintendo would ever put out a “bad” Mario, honestly. There’s plenty here to keep fans and next of kin busy and entertained for quite some time.


This review is based on a Nintendo Switch code provided by the game’s publisher. Physical and digital copies of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe are now available for the Nintendo Switch for $59.99

Reviews Editor

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

Pros
  • Classic side-scrolling action
  • Very accessible for kids
  • It's-a Mario
  • Multiplayer more manageable
  • Lots of replay value
Cons
  • Short levels
  • Might be too easy
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