New Super Luigi U Wii U Review

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As I sit down to write this review, Dave – the channel, not “my mate” – is on behind me. The TV is turned down, so I am not sure what is on, but I can be as-close-as-makes-no-difference sure it was a show I really loved when it first aired on the BBC. That show is still fun now – and it will always be an entertaining watch – but it is not as great as it was the first time through.

Like Dave, Super Luigi U manifests these same feelings. It is fun – but that’s about it. It is nothing more. It takes the well worn (almost threadbare some may say) tropes of the New Super Mario franchise, jiggles them round a bit – turns them green – and hopes for the best. If such a thing were possible, I’d almost describe it as a fun game to have on in the background. It’s standout moments will make you smile; just don’t expect it to make a continuous grab your attention.

It is that episode of Red Dwarf where they do everything backways. It is the time Top Gear still had a Cool Wall – and Richard Hammond had not found fashion. It is Mock the Week when they still had Frankie Boyle saving the world from Kerry Katona, and it’s QI when they were still only on the letter C. Regardless of the name on the box, or the colour of the hat, this is still another New Super Mario effort – and when you’re asked to go down the same rabbit hole for the fifth time, with nothing as new as the name would suggest to greet you, it’s hard to shake the intrinsic feeling you’ve seen this “episode” before.

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Boiled down to it’s most basic, Super Luigi U offers a condensed form of the levels you’d expect from a New Super Mario Bros game, with a lot more thrown at you to traverse in each locale. Luigi’s jump is slightly more floaty than Mario’s, and he jumps that little bit higher too – which gives Nintendo some leeway in positioning their platforms to add some variety to the levels. This. coupled with a much shorter time limit per level, ups the difficulty, making some levels quite a challenge to best.

With level’s only having a 100 second time limit – as they are about half the size of a New Super Mario game – the urge to have “one more go” is strong here.  This makes the game almost seem like Nintendo’s response to Super Meat Boy, which itself  is a confusing assertion, as Super Meat Boy felt like a love letter to Nintendo games of old. Regardless of how it came to exist, it is a concept that leads to some clever moments where the game shines  – so I won’t complain too much,

 Thematically the game has the same 8 locations as New Super Mario Bros U, with each of those locations having the same boss and sub-boss fights, but all the levels in each region are what has seen the big changes. Each dot on the New Super Mario Bros U world map is still a level in New Super Luigi U, and each level is about half the size of what was in the  main game – that means the DLC is approximately half the size of what came before (give or take a few blocks).

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Sadly, this entry in Nintendo’s much vaunted Year of Luigi feels somewhat tainted – but it is in no way the fault of the man himself. The game’s problems fall solely at the feet of Mario. Over the years he’s rung everything he can out of the series already, with multiple versions on the DS, 3DS, Wii, and the Wii U. He’s had his fill, and now he’s callously tossed the scraps to his taller other brother – who rarely gets a starring role. He got out at the right time, like a nefarious con-artist at the heart of a Pyramid Scheme.  Mario comes out smelling of roses, but in reality he’s the real baddie here. Not only is he no better than Bowser – Mario is a veritable Bernie Madoff.

This has to be the last time for this style of Mario outing. Too many similar games, in too short a timeframe is just too much. I have finally reached my limit. and I think others have too. I really hope Nintendo choose to take things in a much different direction if they want to keep the side-scrolling arm of the Mario Bros games going. These side-scrollers are a core part of Nintendo’s output that demand to be taken back to the drawing board and redesigned from the ground up. No real damage has been done yet, and in his career Mario has endured much worse, but I feel if we go any deeper, then we’ll just never recover. It’s not wrong to believe Nintendo’s core tenants deserve more than this, is it?

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As I said a few times in this review, the game remains fun in places, but the majesty of the the Mario Galaxy games seem a universe away in comparison. Nintendo know how to make a world beating 2D platformer – that is a fact that is indisputable. I just wish they’d use that inherent ‘know how’ that the company is built upon to give us something truly new if this series must continue from here – regardless of who’s name is at the helm.

Too me, all platformer releases from Nintendo should be a direct feed to the best innovation the company can offer. This gets someway up the flagpole but falls short of hitting the top.

7/10

by

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Version tested: Wii U

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: 2D Platformer