Released: January 10th 2019
Available platforms: Nintendo Switch
Price: $79.99 CDN ($59.99 US)
New Super Mario Bros. U was a game originally released at the launch of the Wii U. The game was a good proposition for early Wii U adopters. Interest soon waned however with the growing library of more enticing Wii U games and the poor sales of the Wii U console. In January of 2019, Nintendo decided to release New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe: a High Definition re-release for the Nintendo Switch with new characters and all the additional content that came out after New Super Mario Bros. U’s initial release. While waiting for Super Mario Maker 2, I decided to revisit New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe to see how it held up in 2019.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is an inviting point of entry in the Super Mario Bros. series. The levels are designed to have an easy-to-learn pattern so new players feel more confident. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe allows the player to select their character. Mario, Luigi, and Toad play normally, Toadette has access to the Super Crown power-up which transforms them into Peachette and has the same functionality as the Squirrel Suit. Nabbit is invulnerable and, while not able to use power-ups directly, turns power-ups he does collect throughout the level into lives. Toadette and Nabbit are great character choices for new or young players.
Multiplayer is also a notable addition to New Super Mario Bros. U. The classic Mario games had players take turns to tackle a level, while New Super Mario Bros. U allows up to 4 players to attempt a level together. This adds a lot of chaos which, when taken lightly, is enjoyable.
The gameplay is as tried and true as the Mario games themselves. There are new power-ups in the Squirrel Suit, the Penguin Suit along with the Mini Mushroom making a return from New Super Mario Bros. on the DS. The Squirrel Suit gives the player the ability to ascend quickly and glide. The Penguin Suit allows players to slide for quick movement and shoot snowballs that freeze enemies. The Mini Mushroom, while not giving Mario an additional hit, does enable him to fit in narrow places to find secrets rooms. These new power-ups help spice up the traditional formula. The game also encourages the player to find Star Coins hidden around the level. These Star Coins are needed to progress through the game, even though the requirement is lax (more on that later).
Those are the best qualities that come to mind with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. The rest… well…
The level design feels uninspired. Even while writing this review, I struggle to remember a single level. The obstacles are mostly unimpressive and the flow of the levels feels slow. Even when playing multiplayer, the other players pose a greater threat than the level and its elements. Other than purple poisonous water, there are seldom new impediments New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe presents that weren’t in previous Mario games. The aforementioned Star Coins, while being a nice collectible, feel like busywork. The required Star Coins needed to progress are so easily found while playing the game normally, one wonders why the requirement is even there.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is also an easy game. If the player is struggling with a level, they will gain access to the Super Guide. The Super Guide, should the player choose to use it, will get the player to the end for them. While it is understandable to be frustrated being stuck on a certain level, it is made worse by the game just beating it without input. Thankfully the Super Guide is entirely optional. Even without the Super Guide, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe showers the player with lives, making the Life System nearly pointless.
The gameplay fails to innovate in any memorable way. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe feels mechanically inferior to Super Mario World, a game released 20 years prior. The spin jump returns in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe but it has been relegated to a secondary, less reliable jump. New Super Mario Bros. U’s biggest addition is the Squirrel Suit and Penguin Suit which, while being fun power-ups, do not add enough to the game to truly make it feel distinct.
Being a re-release, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe adds very little of note to the ironically not-so “New” game. The Deluxe version does give access to all post-release content of New Super Mario Bros. U, as well as the new selectable characters Toadette and Nabbit… but that’s it.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe feels tepid. With the ho-hum level design, non-threatening difficulty and a severe lack of meaningful innovation, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is easily skippable. I would recommend Super Mario Maker 2 instead.