Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 3, 2017

Wii U Review: New Super Mario Brothers U

Before playing: To a 8-bit/16-bit fan, this Mario seemed like an oasis in the distant, a reason to buy the Wii U to relive the glory days of Super Mario Land for SNES.

After playing: I wished I never played this game. It is the worst 2d Mario game I’ve ever played with no redeeming qualities. It also suffers from the worst level design I’ve ever seen, no immersion, atrocious music, no sense of progression, and all the bad aesthetics from the Wii era.

I played some of NSMB U when it first came out. But I never owned a Wii U to truly sink my teeth into the game. All I knew at the time that this game, alone, wasn’t enough to buy a Wii U. After playing through it, I can assure all of you who did not buy a Wii U but dream about this game that you are better off not playing it all. All those people on the gaming message forums who whisper, “This is the best 2d Mario ever made…” ARE FUCKING WRONG!!!#@@!!$#!!!!

Above: NSMB U Trailer

It really is not hard to fuck up 2d Mario. But NSMB U truly did. NSMB U was originally NSMB Mii because Miyamoto didn’t give a fucking care and wanted to throw Miis into it. Public outcry came about stuffing a 2d Mario game with Miis so they went a more traditional approach with NSMB U which improved it greatly from the total fucking disaster it was going to become. Instead of being complete failure like Nintendo Land, NSMB U would simply become ‘mediocre’.

Remember, Nintendo was at peak arrogance. They expected everyone to buy the Wii U and this game. It is clear Nintendo has no understanding why NSMB DS and Wii sold and why 2d Mario well at all in the past.

The most common problem when looking at older games is to just look at the game. You need to look at the games that came before and after. Amazing games stand their own of games after, and you do not want to play the games that came out before. Such a game would be Street Fighter 2. The game holds up well with games afterward, and the games that come out before Street Fighter 2 are almost unplayable. Who wants to go back? No one. Every 2d Mario game was a watershed moment from SMB popularizing the platformer, SMB 2 and 3 advancing it further, Lost Levels being hardcore 2d Mario, SMW being the showcase of the 16-bit Era SNES, NSMB DS marking the return of 2d Mario in the modern era, and NSMB Wii introducing 4 player simultaneous play. NSMB U doesn’t bring anything to the table.

With NSMB DS and Wii, there were extremely strong market reactions to indicate a return to this format. However, Nintendo’s analysis of this can be summed up in two ways. First, Miyamoto and others said, “I made this game before, and I do not want to make it again” while he keeps making endless 3d Mario games. Second, Nintendo had problems with HD game development and chose a 2d platformer because it was easier to make. NSMB Wii sold Wiis, shouldn’t NSMB U sell Wii Us? There seems to be a high level of green development going on here due to the inconsistency of the level designs and some outright bizarre game design decisions.

The most important thing to know about 2d Mario games is that they are revolutionary games that carve up further exploration of the Mushroom Kingdom.

“We are especially proud of the magical wonderland we created in SMB 3, and the dastardly, fascinating, and repulsive, and enemy characters that live in it.”

-Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo Power “The Making of Super Mario Brothers 3” SOURCE

When Yamauchi saw Super Mario Brothers 1, he knew it would be a hit. You would be going underground, in the sky, in castles, underwater, all over the place! The game was an adventure unlike the ‘level design’ games at the time with their black backgrounds and assorted block patterns such as Lode Runner. You never went anywhere in Lode Runner. You just did ‘level designs’. There was no adventure in such a game. But Super Mario Brothers had a bright blue sky. The sky meant ‘world’. Influenced from being co-developed with Legend of Zelda, there are fractions of Open World in Super Mario Brothers meaning there were multiple ways to get through a level.

In Super Mario Brothers 3, the eight worlds of Mushroom Kingdom are re-visited. Miyamoto said while Super Mario Brothers 1 was only an introduction to those worlds, Super Mario Brothers 3 would flesh them out more. And it did.

New Super Mario Brothers U doesn’t feel like an adventure because there is no cohesive world. There are random level designs made which seem as if they were then placed into a ‘map world’ but otherwise hold absolutely no sense of distinction or world. As such, there is no feeling of progression in the game. Consider the final ‘world’. You go through Peach’s Castle on the map. But all the levels are lava levels where there is no castle at all!!! WTF!???

The MiiVerse reminders, with the taken down MiiVerse, stick out and are annoying as well as break any immersion (as if there was any).

The map only has one song which is then sent through a different audio filter depending on what part of the world you are on. When you move from one land to another land, the same song is playing but sounds ‘different’. Nintendo must have thought they were being clever doing this. Instead, we get one bad song played in a multitude of different ways. Yech!

The mushroom houses all suck except for the ‘grab yoshis to place near toad’. Did anyone have much luck getting the 1 ups come out of the cannon? Who designed this shit? A bonus game is you get the prize or you do not, it is not you get a prize but prize gets taken away because you got Bowser card. Whoever made these mini-games have no idea how to do it.

The monsters ‘levels’ on the overworld screen were not enjoyable. The time limit was too short (compared to the rest of the game where the timer was too long), and you can tell it was fucked up because they had to put a question block with a star flying in through all of them. Total fail on these.

The baby Yoshis were interesting, but it seemed that Nintendo abandoned them early on. I liked I could take them to other levels. I still hate that I cannot bring Yoshi to whatever level I want.

The powerups still blow. Why do I have to hit a trigger button when there are unused buttons on the controller? “Wii mote use, Malstorm.” Bah. The Flying Squirrel’s best use was the ‘spin jump’ that allowed it to jump up after a peak jump. There is no flying in NSMB U because the game design cannot handle it. Yet, they could handle it in SMB 3 and SMW.

Why is there such a limit on how many items you can hold? You could hold four times as many in SMB 3! Who the fuck directed this game?

The Koopa Kids aren’t interesting. They are all in airships, but they are at castles. You go through a castle level and at the end, jump in the airship which is just a room to fight the Koopa Kid. First off, why are they in airships if they aren’t being utilized? They can be just in a room in the castle like they were in Super Mario World? If they are in an airship, I expect an airship level like in Super Mario Brothers 3. Only Bowser Jr. had airship levels. Worse, the castle the koopa kids are in make no sense. It is not their castle. In SMB 3, those were the kings of those lands’ castles. In SMW, you actually DESTROYED the koopa kids castles in various ways. But in NSMB U, what are these castles dotting the landscape all about? They don’t belong to a king. They apparently don’t belong to the koopa kid since he/she has an airship already. It is like Nintendo deliberately put shit in to tweak nostalgia of SMB 3 with zero content of it.

The level design is bad. The reason why is because the level design keeps being reduced to ‘timing puzzles’ with minimal other choices. 2d Mario is founded on the principle of ‘multiple ways through a level’. For some reason, Nintendo keeps forgetting this for NSMB line. If people want to fly through a level, so what? But no. No flying. No Yoshi except when permitted.

The level design is extremely boring with too many stupid gotchas. Take the swinging ghost house design. The gotcha is looking through invisible walls. Really? When invisible walls were deployed in NES games like Metroid or Zelda 2, there was no time limit.

Above: Think I’m exaggerating? Look at the comments on this video. Level design is not a strong suit in NSMB U.

I did enjoy the latter half of World 7 and the final stages. I think it was because the aesthetic changed and the game got more serious. Still, the game design would put turds in the punch bowl. Consider the last level before the Final Battle. You are running around, dodging lava, and all. At the very end, there is a giant beetle walking below an upside down pipe. The exit is through that pipe. In order to get to that pipe, you must wait for the lava to be up, so the beetle is floating near the upside down pipe, and then jump into the pipe. It is a timing puzzle where you must wait until beetle is in the right location (it walks around and you cannot ride it on land, only during lava). If you miss at all, game over for you as lava is instant kill. This is simply not fun at all. It may have been fun for the level designer, but it is not fun for the gamer.

I did play some multiplayer with NSMB U, but I didn’t really play with the Gamepad. I just don’t think the game is interesting enough to care.

What did I like about the game? I think the game was strongest with its Squirrel Suit and new enemies. I liked the momentum level stages, not the ‘timing’ based stages. The lava stages at the last ‘world’ are great stuff.

I was getting all the star coins until I stopped caring. Fuck that collect-a-thon shit.

The challenge modes I didn’t really get into. I honestly had a hard time playing this game because I was constantly bored. Meanwhile, I can play SMW or SMB 3 easily in one sitting but this game was a massive chore.

This game is bland, bloated, and boring. Why this game gets any praise is a mystery to for the same reason as anyone would praise Nintendo Land. I suspect it has to do with the only thing they had to play for their Wii U for a while, and they may have had a family experience playing with it. NSMB U is a bad game and pretty much this and NSMB 2 for 3DS destroyed the massive 2d Mario fanbase.

Final Grade: C-

You can safely skip NSMB U. I believe C- is the correct quality threshold for this title as it correlates to Wii U tanking at launch with its first party titles being Nintendo Land (F) and NSMB U (C-).

Best 2d Mario game…. MY ASS.

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