One of the biggest games on show at Eurogamer was New Super Mario Bros Wii U. Taking pride of place in a central spot in the con’s Nintendo section, players could enjoy the action either via the Wii U gamepad or through trusty old Wii-motes. There were three playable levels on show ; an enchanted forest, a mushroom-platform extravaganza (you know the type, they’ve been around since SMB1) and, my personal favourite, a nocturnal winter wonderland. New Super Mario Bros Wii U is set to be a Wii U launch title, with a scheduled release of November 30th in Europe.
This title’s gameplay will be no surprise to anyone ; as predicted, it draws heavily on the gameplay mechanics featured in earlier titles in the series. Which, in Nintendo’s defence, seems to be what a lot of gamers out there want, particularly casual gamers and youngsters. Who am I to argue, as anyone who’s taken the time to read the PlusXP Staff Page will know, it was the side-scrolling NES title Super Mario Bros 2 that made me a gamer in the first place 20 odd years ago. It would be naïve and wrong of me to assume that tastes within this age group had evolved massively just because the gaming world, as a whole, has. Kids are kids, and always will be.
That said, the Wii U version of Super Mario Bros does, indeed, have some tricks up its sleeve that make it unique. For one thing there’s a new power-up called Squirrel-Mario, which allows Mario to glide down in a slow descent, not dissimilar to Knuckles’ glide in Sonic & Knuckles. There are also Baby Yoshis, which each come with their own special ability based on their colour.
As with the Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament (my coverage of which you can view here) the demo I played at Eurogamer did not utilise the Wii U GamePad in any way other than acting as an alternative screen/controller for your play. However, IGN have confirmed that GamePad users, in a multiplayer game, will be able to either assist or hinder their team mates by placing platforms around the level. For more information please see here.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the graphics. This game marks, in my opinion, the first time in the New Super Mario Bros series there has been a considerable leap in the game’s graphical prowess. Presented in glorious HD, every element of what is seen on screen has a level of depth that, quite frankly, left me flabbergasted. For the flooring and platforms this means extra colours and details in the patterns that make up their whole. For the character models and backgrounds, clever use of 3D rendering makes them look slick and modern while maintaining the franchise’s signature cartoony look. For the backdrops ; well-placed lighting effects and good use of burn/dodge style tools are the order of the day. Indeed the background in particular are something that really sets this game apart : they look as if they have been crafted by a highly skilled fantasy artist. I’d be hard-pressed to think of another game (aside from Sonic Generations, ironically) that offers such impressive background scenery.
The music score is comprised of the usual Super Mario World-esque ditties, filled with abundant pipes and xylophones. Like you would expect, they are tailored to the pace of the level, so cheery and upbeat in the initial forest level, becoming more chilled and soothing in the night time, Christmassy level.
So, all in all, New Super Mario Bros Wii U is shaping up to be a surprisingly pretty game that will, no doubt, sell by the bucket-load. Its a fun game, although possibly not different enough from earlier titles in the series to be of too much appeal to those of us who’ve already played through previous entities. Good demonstration of what the Wii U is capable of.