Very special thanks to Nintendo UK for providing us with this review copy.
2D Mario has hopped on over to Switch with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe! Bringing a new character with an exclusive power-up and the New Super Luigi U DLC expansion packed right in from the get-go, just how much has this game been updated since its original release back in 2012? Is the game truly worthy of its Deluxe title? My name is Tris, and let’s find out in this review.
The plot of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe follows the same as the original. Mario, Luigi, Yellow Toad, and now Toadette instead of Blue Toad are enjoying tea at Peach’s Castle when Bowser attacks, sending them away as he captures both Peach and her castle. The ensuing adventure is the quest back, taking out the Koopaling castles along the way in the various worlds. Beyond replacing Blue Toad with Toadette, there’s no other changes to this plot since the original game. It’s a fair and simple plot fitting of a 2D Mario game that’s quick and gets right to the gameplay.
Like the original game on Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has Mario and friends traversing plenty of 2D platforming reach-the-end-goal levels across 8 different worlds. While this core of the New Super Mario Bros. gameplay is unchanged from the original release, it did add elements to build upon this. Originally, the main 4 characters of Mario, Luigi, Yellow and Blue Toad all essentially played identically. While there was a 5th playable character, Nabbit, he was exclusive to the New Super Luigi U DLC expansion, and served as the “easy mode” character by being invulnerable to enemy damage. This time around, both Toads were combined into one character, with either color as an available option with the press of the L button, and Toadette was added to the playable cast.
Unlike the rest of the main characters, Toadette does not play near identically. While she is overall made easier than the rest of the main cast, what sets her apart is her exclusive power-up: the Super Crown, allowing Toadette to transform into Peachette. In her Peachette form, she has the ability to glide similarly to the Flying Squirrel Suit, perform a double-jump in the air, and get an automatic boost out of a pit. I have to say, while I’m glad that New Super Mario Bros. is finally introducing characters that play even slightly differently from each other, I don’t feel Toadette is the best way to do this. While I do feel that Toadette is fun to play, she inherently makes the game a bit too easy at times. Up until now, when faced with difficulties in levels, typically the player would have to figure out a different approach, or if in multiplayer, the players may have to work together more cohesively. Surprisingly often, however, I found that an easy answer to any problems was to change characters to Toadette. In a multiplayer setting, I even found myself carrying the other players whenever I was Toadette. While the overall gameplay is fun and solid, it leads to some specific problems in the presentation of the game as a whole.
The overall presentation in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe isn’t too problematic outside of issues with Toadette and Nabbit. Everything in the game is relatively clear and accessible to players. The difficulty is scaled rather well, with New Super Luigi U definitely being the much harder experience. The additional modes provide a fun additional experience to the main two story modes, though they’re best enjoyed as simple minigames.
So, where do the problems lie? Firstly, before getting to Toadette and Nabbit, I just have to say that I genuinely don’t understand why Yellow and Blue Toad were not only combined into one character. What confuses me even more is that there’s absolutely no indication that the L button changes from Yellow to Blue Toad. Because both Toads are consolidated to one character, they cannot both be played at the same time…which completely leads to another issue with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. The game clearly indicates that Toadette is the Easier character, while Nabbit is the Very Easy character. As the game is advertised and heavily marketed to be played as a four player experience, this means that one of the four players is forced into the handicap of playing an easier character. In addition to this, the game definitely seems to favor Toadette beyond any other character. While Super Crowns won’t appear in a level if Toadette isn’t being played, that certainly won’t appear them from showing up elsewhere. I actually found myself avoiding item houses at times, as I found they were consistently only offering me super crowns and singular 1-up mushrooms, even when I was only playing as Mario, Luigi, or Toad. When you’re constantly being handed Super Crowns that have absolutely no effect on any character beyond Toadette, not even working as a simple Mushroom or anything, it almost feels like the game is non-stop reminding you to give Toadette a try. I may still have fun while playing as Toadette, but to me, it doesn’t feel as rewarding to clear levels of the game exclusively as her, yet when I’m constantly handed her exclusive item, I don’t feel like I’m being given much of a choice.
I’ll be honest, I actually loved New Super Mario Bros. U back in its original release. It was a blast to power through with my friends, facing more and more difficult challenges as we tried to collect every star coin and find all the secrets of every level. When I heard this was getting ported to Switch, I was really hoping for a bunch of new exciting features to make this truly a deluxe edition of the original Wii U release. Despite this…while I’ve been enjoying my time with my friends as we’ve been playing New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, it just feels like there’s been minimal changes to the game. The only real significant change feels like the annoying forced factor of needing to have one of the four players play the easier character, and if not, the constant reminders from the game to play this character for their exclusive power-up.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time with this game, but I fear this leaves far more to be desired. I think this makes for a fun game with some friends if you missed out on this game during the Wii U era, but I can’t say there’s much new to make anyone double-dip, unless you’re just looking for the nostalgia from 7 years prior.