Being a Mario fan can be exhausting. With Nintendo transitioning the series into an annual cash cow, there seems to be a new Mario release practically every few months. Not content to let their Wii U heavy hitter go stale, Nintendo has spiced up their Mario launch game with some DLC.
Enter New Super Luigi U, a much more difficult, yet incredibly dull and uninspired add-on to a spin-off series that many feel is lacking in charm. While Luigi has proven to be a fan favorite and to even have more of a personality than his brother, how else could one possibly transition the green brother into his own platformer? By making him completely loose, of course! Mario games have always shined in their tight controls and guided pace. Mario has an exact jumping arc that players quickly learn and can easily exploit with greater skill. Luigi just slides and floats like he’s drunk. In a game with a slower pace, this could actually work really well.
The level design does not hold up, though. Nintendo made the curious decision to decrease the timer to 100 seconds per level. In addition to that, every level is but a mere fraction of the size of the base game. If you ignore most of the obstacles and star coins, you could be looking at the “Stage Clear” segment in a mere 30 seconds, if you can avoid all the precariously placed enemies. Some levels have enemies placed all over the screen, finally utilizing the extra resolution of the Wii U by filling practically every inch with something. Additionally, Luigi is incredibly unresponsive, leading to more than a few lost lives.
These challenges are things that a lot of fans have been clamoring for, and honestly, you cannot blame anyone for that. Mario games have lost a lot of their bite in the recent years and letting Luigi star in his own more brutal adventure is a pretty nifty idea.
One has to wonder why upon completion, you can revert back to the base game’s physics. When Luigi controls just like Mario, a lot of the levels feel better and the level design actually demands more precision. You immediately feel like you are in control, and alas, all deaths are your fault. When playing as Luigi, that is not the case. I practically invented strings of curse words in a few segments. Looking over those deaths, more than a few of them were brought on by Luigi’s inability to navigate the courses thrown in front of him.
When you add this with multiplayer, pure chaos ensues. Some people might heartily enjoy the crazy action, but there are sections where a single person barely has any room to maneuver. With four characters on screen, how exactly is everyone supposed to remain alive? One player also must be relegated to the invincible Nabbit the Rabbit. Not a bad idea in theory. Nabbit is a curious decision choice for an expansion meant to increase the difficulty, as he is completely impervious to damage and will easily best any level without a lot of effort. Strangely, he cannot be selected in single-player; you also lack the ability to not select him when playing with 4 players. If you have a lot of skilled friends who really are looking for a challenge, I suggest excluding one of them.
The strange lack of polish in the game also extends to the world map, as Nintendo did not see fit to revamp the existing world. While every level is different enough to feel new, you sadly don’t get the same impression when initially starting the game. Instead of flashy new graphics or even different sound effects, you have an exact recreation of New Super Mario Bros. U. To make matters worse, all of the secret exits are kept in the same levels. If you remembered their locations from before, you would be hard pressed to not find them again.
This may sound overly negative, but New Super Luigi U simply feels like a missed opportunity. For a brother that a ton of fans would like to see shine, releasing a short and barely new addition feels like Luigi is getting short changed. The slimmer brother deserves a lot better. The fans deserve better. Even the Wii U deserves better. At least you can use the Wii U Pro Controller, something that was curiously missing in action from the original release.
When it comes down to it, New Super Luigi U is an average Mario game. Challenge can only go so far when the design just feels bland. Your personal mileage may vary, but I just did not have that spark of fun or creativity that Mario used to give me.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Wii U version of New Super Luigi U developed and published by Nintendo
- More Difficult
- More Luigi
- Lackluster Level Design
- Sloppy Multiplayer