Over the years we’ve seen Mario make massive strives in terms of accessibility. Sure, there are still hard levels, but gone are the days when you were either good enough to do it or not. For better or worse this has been an ongoing trend, one that we saw go both ways in New Super Mario Bros. U. Not only was it easier, there was an additional expansion that both increased and decreased difficulty and made for an interesting experience. With New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe being the latest Wii U gaming ending up on the Switch, does it make the same improvements we saw with Mario Kart 8 or are some Wii U games better left forgotten?
If there is one thing New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe doesn’t do, it is reinventing the wheel. As we’ve seen countless times in the past, Bowser appears to capture Princess Peach and Mario and his friends need to put an end to his plans. Like most Mario games, the basic premise exists to give Mario’s struggle meaning, in addition to giving us a foe to stop. Naturally, the main attraction is still gameplay, which remains solid.
The best way to describe New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a risk free Mario title. It doesn’t do much to play with the idea of what makes a Mario game a Mario game, nor does it throw in too many crazy mechanics. It sticks to what works, with a bit of flare.
Arguably my favorite thing about New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe are the level design choices. With levels ranging from a painted swamp to underwater paradise, it offers some interesting experiences and arguably some of the best visuals in a Mario title. Sure, none of the levels manage to stand out like Super Mario 3D World’s Cosmic Cannon Cluster, but there is enough of an experience to remember why Mario is so beloved.
Those looking for a bit more of a challenge have the additional Super Luigi U expansion. If you didn’t play the original version on the Wii U, it’s essentially the same game, just designed to be harder. Nothing hits the point where it’s on par with the worst stuff from the past, though it’s certainly enough to give hardcore players the more challenging experience they desire.
Nabbit and Toadette offer the opposite experience for the base game. Where Nabbit makes it virtually impossible to fail, outside of missing a jump, Toadette gives players new resources and additional health to last longer. The best thing about Toadette is how versatile her Peachette form is. With an additional jump and floating mechanics, she is able to get a number of coins with less than perfect timing, along with also offering players an easy way to get additional lives.
What stands out about this approach to easy mode is how they offer different advantages and disadvantages, without taking away all the bite. If you’re not good at platforming or are easily flustered, Nabbit isn’t going to guarantee victory. Likewise, Toadette’s Peachette form might make platforming easier, it just requires players to avoid damage and have a fair understanding of her resources.
Regardless of which path you take; you’re left with a solid Mario experience. Especially if you’re good enough to maintain specials or think outside of the box. Often times the best power ups aren’t given to you, they’re brought from another level. Whether it’s burning foes or using ice as a way to increase your overall height, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is as much about the experience as thinking outside of the box.
Overall, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe doesn’t change what we expect from a Mario game and that is fine. Players are given both higher and lower difficulties, with neither making the game so easy it’s no longer fun. Even skilled players can have fun with Toadette or Nabbit under the right conditions, just like Luigi U offers plenty of opportunities to learn. So, if you missed out on the original or never finished it, it’s hard to say no to New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
[Editor’s Note: New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe was reviewed on Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]