Let it be known that Nintendo has thrown away the rulebook here, completely belying what could normally be expected of the term “downloadable content.” It’s the developer at their creative best, resources channelled to intricately tinker away at New Super Mario Bros. U‘s facade to craft a separate experience neatly snug to fill Luigi’s shoes.
And in doing so Nintendo’s marketing efforts have been keen to hammer home precisely what’s different, aside from the Italian plumber’s brother once again enjoying his turn in the limelight in continuing his year-long celebrations.
Each level has been entirely reworked, their individual challenge significantly increased with the player now facing far trickier gauntlets in your quest to leap atop the end goal flagpole. The Mushroom Kingdom remains laden with innate charm, enemies bopping along to the game’s iconic themes before continuing their menacing advance.
Yet undermining the experience is the continual push toward speed runs, resulting in a counterintuitive design that diminishes from the joy that Nintendo’s output usually delivers. The removal of checkpoints forcibly ejecting players back the world map multiple times as you endlessly set out to conquer obstacles placed in your way. You’ll curse as your lives flit away, grumble when unkind level design catches you out, and soon join the many already sharing their struggles through Miiverse.
Although, I should reinforce this as being a welcome trial in part, a complete contrast to the relative ease that many found within New Super Mario Bros. U itself. Luigi’s post-level completion exclamation of “Phew! Made it!” does much to echo such sentiment perfectly, and you’ll regularly find yourself feeling exactly the same way throughout.
It is Luigi’s play style that many will need to adapt to, which proves quite the adjustment in comparison to his absent brother. Reaching greater jump height, distances and performing lengthier slides are just a few tricks up his sleeve, which is a worthwhile differentiation to those that wouldn’t otherwise don the green cap.
As can be expected from Nintendo, controlling Luigi feels suitably tight despite his bumbling manner, meaning that you can only blame your own skill when your attempts go awry. For those struggling to overcome such difficulties, the company serves up thieving menace Nabbit as an invincible alternative more suited to beginners.
Mainly geared toward players accompanying you for the ride in multiplayer, the mischievous Mushroom bag-toting rabbit can also be chosen in single-player, useful for tackling any levels that prove particularly difficult. With the game seemingly looking to entice more expert players, it is an addition that is at odds with Nintendo’s goal although the younger demographic can still get involved.
Areas that disappoint are an unchanged narrative, that simply removes Mario from the equation and places the rescue of Princess Peach upon Luigi’s conscience, and similarly unaddressed boss battles that weren’t Nintendo’s best even within the original outing.
New Super Luigi U will surely be divisive among critics and fans alike. On the one hand rejuvenating the Wii U release by presenting twists upon a preordained concoction of ideas, yet on the other perhaps not doing enough with what they have to ensure it stands out alone more significantly.
Maybe it could have taken a leaf out of the supporting content released for New Super Mario Bros. 2, with more variation in approach, yet diehard enthusiasts will plunge headfirst into seeing how Luigi is put through his paces. And rightly so.
Version Tested: Wii U
Review copy provided by Nintendo