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This review is from: New Super Luigi U (Nintendo Wii U) (Video Game)
It's interesting that the 'New Super Mario Bros' franchise remains such an important asset to Nintendo, for the titles dip into nostalgia for older players and yet provide a different kind of thinking those who have grown up playing 3D games. This sweet spot is why New Super Mario Bros U (NSMBU) is so important for the Wii U's position in the living room; it appeals to almost everyone.
But of course, this is a formula that can repeat itself at regular intervals - albeit only with visual differences. New Super Luigi U is a brilliantly creative answer to this mould, and in many ways comes off as a bold move by Nintendo for a retail game, considering it was first made available on the eShop. It is an experience that bears more in common with Super Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels, for it wishes to catch the gamer off guard with a far greater level of difficulty than its predecessor.
Although, can this title be called a successor? That's a good question. It features no extra modes in its main menu (such as Challenge or Boost) - focusing instead on the main Story. It is a choice that, no doubt, confirms the limited availability of this title in disc form as Nintendo presume that you already own or have at least played NSMBU.
The Story mode however is identical to Mario's adventure, from the Map to the cut-scenes. The differences are found in the levels themselves.
First off, you only have 100 'game seconds' to complete any level (with the exception of boss fights as time is carried over). This in itself will be enough to make even the most experienced gamer swallow hard, but the consolation is that the levels are slighter shorter than those found in NSMBU. What this equates to is a far higher level of replay value, since there is greater emphasis on timing and strategy. The tactically placed enemies and obstacles are, surprisingly, far more reminiscent of the original 1985 Super Mario Bros, requiring the gamer to actually memorise the best routes in any one level rather than wandering around at a leisurely speed.
This change in pace also brings an extra challenge when collecting Star Coins. In NSMBU, these could be found and collected with time to spare, but this is simply not the case in New Super Luigi U. You will be required to repeatedly access a level in order to even discover where particular coins are, and once you know their positions, more time is dedicated to getting each of them one-by-one using rehearsed moves.
Luigi himself also differs from Mario when controlled in a level; he jumps significantly higher, but the trade-off is that he skids when stopping from a run. This means that the redesigned levels have more access to coins and items in the sky, but you have to rethink the way you land and stop running in order to avoid enemies, or of course, not fall off a platform!
Hidden throughout the game map are various secrets and little tokens that, reputedly, celebrate Luigi's 30th anniversary. That is of course the reason the title exists on a disc format - it arrives in a lovely green case with exclusive artwork, giving it the aura of being a special product. But the real question is whether New Super Luigi U lives up to that promise of being a celebratory purchase, despite it following exactly the same story as NSMBU. The answer to this depends on who will be owning (or at the very least, playing) the title, for the story is the most insignificant aspect of this game.
The truth is, younger children are unlikely to enjoy this game. The difficulty level is raised to such an extent that a user must have the patience to navigate levels with greater anticipation for danger, and to then combine that caution whilst also trying to beat the clock. This requirement for such deft precision is almost a direct opposite from NSMBU, which itself is very much a "go at your own pace" experience.
A consolation is that the game features new multiplayer options, including the character 'Nabbit' who cannot take damage from enemies. I have to admit that, although Mario is not playable in this title, the lineup of Luigi, Nabbit and two Toads makes for a more exciting co-op adventure!
And although I may have sounded somewhat negative up to now, you really couldn't be further from the truth. Having played Mario games for almost twenty years, New Super Luigi U is arguably one of the greatest challenges I've come up against, and that's what makes it so infuriatingly brilliant. In many respects it's the title that I've been wanting Nintendo to make for a long time, as it targets a very specific audience and experience level, rather than openly trying to please everyone in the household. This will no doubt make it more popular with the maturer audience, because let's face it, there are few greater feelings in the video game world than overcoming a difficult level. And this time round, Mario doesn't even have a say! Though if the game's opening cut-scene is anything to go by, he must have just stepped out of the room temporarily...
New Super Luigi U is, quite genuinely, everything that the experienced gamer could want from a side-scrolling adventure. And like NSMBU, this title can also be played with the GamePad, Wii Remote and Wii Pro Controller, so you have the same range of control options to suit different tastes.