tiistai 13. syyskuuta 2016

REVIEW - New Super Mario Bros. U

GENRE(S): Platformer
DEVELOPER(S): Nintendo
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo
RELEASE DATE: November 18, 2012

New Super Mario Bros. U was the first brand new Mario launch title, actually starring the man himself, for any new Nintendo console since the original Super Mario 64 - and that is by far the only special thing about it. I am so frustrated with this series right now, especially after a solid line of fresh experiences in the Mario franchise, some of them even positive surprises. I was thinking of dragging this a little further down the line to spare it from my wrath, but then again, I realized that all this stuff swirling in my head was there from the very beginning; it's not going to change in the future. I still took another round of New Super Mario Bros. U straight to the gut, to see how it played out with a different controller. It's somewhat better with an old school control scheme, as I suspected, and believe me, the game ain't bad to begin with. The ultimate question, however, is...

...What is so God damn NEW about it?

Bowser invades and takes over the Princess' castle, of course trapping the Princess inside it, while hurling the foursome of Mario, Luigi and a couple of Toads for generic multiplayer fodder to the outer limits of Mushroom Kingdom. Apart from non-linear, yet all-mandatory progression, we know the rest of the deal - through and through - and in 2012, 27 years of the Super Mario franchise and three New Super Mario Bros. games already behind us, we are getting bored. Moreover, we find ourselves wondering how in the hell did Nintendo manage to spend THREE YEARS on making and disguising what is essentially New Super Mario Bros. Wii in high-definition?!

I never thought to say this, but looking at those star-shaped
thingies makes me miss Super Mario Galaxy.
Yeah, I'm furious. All the pros and cons I noted concerning all of the previous titles in this series match the pros and cons of New Super Mario Bros. U. Why? Because it's the exact same game. The first New Super Mario Bros. title on the Nintendo DS was the one I criticized the most, for being such a simple, yet at the same time, very strange, successor to the first Famicom titles, and generally speaking not the fresh and innovative first-party Nintendo game we were safe to expect in 2006. You can double down on a game that was released on Nintendo's eighth-generation powerhouse in 2012, and basically - despite some gratuitous Miiverse social media bullshit and a freeform world map to cover it all up - IS THE EXACT SAME GAME as the previous major console title in this particular series!! Well not the exact same game to be honest, there are more levels in this game, but all the levels from the previous one are recycled by some degree. ALL of them - except for all of the most important boss fights. I guess those ones are made different, 'cause kids always remember bosses best. Successful cover-up, then? Not by a long shot.

Super Mario 3D World was originally supposed to be the final game of this marathon, simply because it's the newest out of all Mario platformers - excluding Super Mario Maker, if you count that as a platformer or even an actual game - and 'cause it's also the best Mario platformer in ages. Firstly, I kinda got sidetracked from the New SMB series by taking on Super Mario 3D Land on my 3DS one night, and I followed up with Super Mario 3D World like a zombie, forgetting all about a review of New Super Mario Bros. U. Secondly, in honest hindsight, if I had written this review before Super Mario 3D World, I'd probably had spent half the time bashing this game even more than I already have, or will. With Super Mario 3D Land out, and Super Mario 3D World on its way, New Super Mario Bros. U was a gap-filler, nothing more. It's a good game, of course it is, it's based on a simple and functional formula. Should you buy it, should you keep it in mind? Should you remember it? If you don't have any of the earlier games under your belt, sure. Otherwise, no.

All these things I hate revolve around me

Here's something nice for a change. That oil painting in the
background is freakin' rad.
Let's play it a bit nicer for a change and say that New Super Mario Bros. U "plays very close" to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Having that out of the way, let's get straight to control business: if you're hell bent on playing and beating this game just for collection's sake, do yourself a favour. Put the Wii U Gamepad to rest and dig up a Wiimote. I know 'cause I tried both options: even though the same odd mishaps that plagued the "original" occur when playing with the Wiimote (such as Mario ducking in the middle of a dash if your thumb is just slightly off-key), the old controller is just so much more practical for not only a casual game of New Super Mario Bros. U, but also the levels near the end of the main world campaign that are solely based on the controller's motion detection feature - the MD lifts, if you remember. Trying to control the lifts with the bulky Gamepad, especially if you're playing too close to a living room table or any other piece of furniture, is a nightmare. Either the furniture disrupts your movement, or you, having no control over your physical powers, will end up accidentally smashing the Gamepad to the table. Before long, you'll be doing that on purpose. (Those pads are God damn expensive, by the by.)

Bowser's the biggest thing in this game. Literally.
There's just one completely new power-up in the whole game, and even that's a combination of a 21st century Tanooki Suit and a Propeller Box; it doesn't even have an actual name to my knowledge, it's just called a flying squirrel suit, and it doesn't need a whole lot of explaining if you've seen how those two power-ups have worked in the last couple of years. The Mini Mushroom makes its "anticipated" comeback; this time, you can run on walls with it. Well, yippie-ki-yay. Yoshi turns up once again, on some very few choice occasions, but the game is littered with different-coloured Baby Yoshis that have some special abilities to help you out in some levels, on a totally random level of necessity. If you can carry the Baby Yoshi all the way to the goal, you'll gain an extra life. Isn't that swell? As if the game didn't shower you with 1-Ups already; seriously, the game is so unrewarding it hurts. With the exception of the final boss fight - that's "final", before a special world once again turns up to issue its very own assrape-class challenge. Ironically, the Bowser battle is once again great, and more innovative than the whole game altogether. The only innovative thing about the rest of the game is the addition of a fifth player for the multiplayer scheme, to aid the player with Boost Blocks, which are exactly what they sound like. What makes no sense as an idea makes even less sense when you realize that you'd do 99% better in the hunt for the main world campaign's Star Coins with the aid of a Boost Block player.

I'm outta here.


What you've got to understand once more is that New Super Mario Bros. U is not a bad game by any measure; it's just a huge disappointment, another aggressively recycled New Super Mario Bros. title faintly disguised as a brand-new game. Clearly, it was not made for adults to play, not to mention review. Alas, all of the articles I've ever read concerning this game shower it with praises, often leaving true masterpieces such as Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World coughing up the dust trail. I don't get it. I'm sad that Mario has to make his exit from the blog this way, but at least this time I know for certain that New Super Mario Bros. U is not the last game on my list. Just the last one for a prolonged while to come.

+ It's still New Super Mario Bros.

+ It's still New Super Mario Bros.

< 7.2 >

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