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Was The Wii U Our Virtual Boy?: New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe Review

Growing up in the ’80s my weekends were spent with my cousin playing video games. Either at the arcade or at his house playing Nintendo. Like every other game kid in the ‘80s, I grew up on Super Mario Brothers. Though my favorite one was Super Mario 3. The formula was perfect. So perfect that it was the template for Super Mario games to come.

The latest in the Super Mario Bros series is New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe. The game is both New Super Mario Bros U and New Super Luigi U from Nintendo's Wii U system, now combined for the Nintendo Switch. I haven't played a platform Mario game since Super Mario Land 2 and Super Mario Run. That is what NSMBU Deluxe reminds me of the best and worst Super Mario Bros games put together to make an Ok game. It's not game changing like Mario Bros games from the past. Super Mario Bros 1 helped popularized the platforming genre. Super Mario 3 gave us a way to reply levels and a new structure of gameplay. Super Mario 64 gave us our first open world to the universe that led to some of the best sandbox games we have ever played. The mod community forced Nintendo to create the best Mario game of them all, Super Mario Maker.

Though we are not here to talk about that amazing game, we are talking about a port of a Super Mario Bros game from one of Nintendo's most disappointing console next to the Virtual Boy. NSMBU Deluxe may be easy, this is the first time I've seen an option for an easy mode since Super Mario Land 2. A lot of people have talked about the controls and I couldn't agree more, unlike Super Smash Bros you can not remap these to your preference. Playing with one hand using the pro controller I found it kinda of hard to do things like getting a boost with the flying squirrel power. It was also tricky to do a butt breaker first try.

I know we are in 2019, though it is sad when retro looking indie games look better than a triple-A title like NSMBU Deluxe. I wish they gave us a downgrade option in the graphics to give it more of that classic look. To me, it just feels like Super Mario Run meets Super Mario Bros 2 for NES. The reason why I compare this to Super Mario Bros 2 for many reasons. It's the first time you have the option between different characters since Super Mario Bros 2. There are aspects of the game people love about it, along with dislikes. Though even if there is a love/hate relationship with Super Mario Bros 2, which I found out a few years ago was originally Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (translated as Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic and usually referred to as Doki Doki Panic) in Japan, and remade into Super Mario Bros 2. You'll always be pleasing the hardcore Mario fans. If you're really good at platformers this is a short experience with story mode.

(History of Super Mario Bros 2 by the Gaming Historian)

There is some ok level design in both Super Mario Bros 2 and NSMBU Deluxe. I feel NSMBU Deluxe will have the same fate as Super Mario Bros 2. It seems like RND took the worst parts of the Famicom Super Mario Bros 2 controls and tweaked them to be even worse for NSMBU Deluxe. Though there are some fun aspects to NSMBU Deluxe. The challenge mode is actually quite fun. It's a great break from the story mode. Though I don't know if it is enough to keep people playing. Like I said there are some great indie platformers that have a great balance and are expanding on the genre for a third of the cost of NSMBU Deluxe. You could get four or five indie titles for the same price as NSMBU Deluxe. Though if you are a lover of Super Mario, this game may be for you. For me, I'll play this off and on throughout the year, though I'm holding out for SNES ports to finally make their way to the Switch.

Like I said in the beginning, I have not played a platformer Super Mario game in a long time. I wanted to see what I was missing seeing I never owned a Wii U because I thought it was a waste of money for me because I could never play the gamepad with one hand. So Nintendo graciously sent me a copy to play. I just hope we see some really good stuff seeing January was not so good with first-party titles and delaying Metroid Prime 4 for a few more years. We believe in you Nintendo, you can do it!


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