TUCSON, Ariz. — I’ve spent my whole life attempting to save Princess Peach. That’s right. Up until now, I had never finished a side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. game. When I booted up New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, I told myself this was it: this is going to be the game where I finally see the credits roll. Sadly, like an awkward first kiss, when the moment arrived, this feat failed to measure up to my expectations. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is far from a bad game, in fact, it’s perfectly competent in every way you expect a Nintendo game to be. The music is catchy, movement feels precise and all the usual Mario trimmings are present. Unfortunately, the final product doesn’t contain any sort of incline in difficulty and feels uninspired compared to the heights of its predecessors, making the end of the road more of a shoulder shrug than a fist pump of excitement.
Progressing through each world in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe felt faster than a speeding Bullet-Bill and deaths were less a common occurrence than they were a surprise. There are no intimidating jumps, no pesky enemies that were difficult to get past, not even a challenging ghost house level. Even the boss battles offer nothing surprising and this trend continues all the way through the final encounter with Bowser. Call me old fashioned, but I remember in my youth wanting to throw a controller across the room because of a level being too tough… kids these days have it easy. If you go about your journey alone you’ll likely feel the same, but if you go at it with a teamwork approach, bonding together will mask the mediocrity.
Spelunking through the Mushroom Kingdom with friends is this game’s strong point. Playing as a group of two-to-four involves teamwork, coordination, and even sucking up one's pride for the good of the team. It becomes clear immediately who in the group is experienced and who hasn’t played a Super Mario Bros. game since the original game’s release in 1985. Failing in front of your friends is part of the fun, so don’t be too embarrassed, and if you need it, there are playable characters whose abilities make getting to the goal pole a more streamlined process. Multiplayer Mario is madness.
For this game to get the “Deluxe” treatment, it sure feels lacking in content to warrant paying $60. The package includes new playable characters, the original Wii U launch game, and the spinoff New Super Luigi U, which combine to offer 164 platforming courses. Luigi’s adventure promises a faster, trickier experience, but honestly, it takes hardly any time getting used to his movements and boss encounters are the exact same. Adding in more playable characters, some original levels, or even a harder difficulty would help this game’s case for being full price.
It’s hard to recommend this game as a must buy for Switch owners. While the usual high level of Nintendo polish is here, there are far better platformers for half the price right now in the E-shop. In addition, if you’re looking for the classic Super Mario Bros. experience, both the original game and Super Mario Bros. 3 are available to play on your Switch with a Nintendo Online subscription. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe offers exactly what you’d expect while contributing nothing... new. Mama-mia, will they just put Super Mario Maker on the Switch already?
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Review code provided by publisher
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