Though "New Super Mario Bros. U" was a hit on the Wii U, it still sold under 6 million copies — a surprisingly low number for one of the world's most popular gaming franchises. It wasn't the game's fault, but a measure of the Wii U's failure.
With that in mind, Nintendo is giving the game a new chance with a major re-release on the Nintendo Switch. It's a smart move, as the game feels purpose-built for the kind of gaming that the Nintendo Switch allows — it's exactly the type of game that's easy to play on-the-go or at home.
So, what is it?
It's two games — "New Super Mario Bros. U" and "New Super Luigi U" — combined into a single, $60 package. It comes with a new playable character in "Toadette." It's a re-release that gives an already great set of games a chance to reach new players on a far, far more successful Nintendo platform.
If "New Super Mario Bros. U" is the base game, "New Super Luigi Bros. U" is the master quest.
It would be reductive to say that the latter game is a harder version of the former, but it's not inaccurate. You can't actually play as Mario in "New Super Luigi Bros. U," but you can play as everyone else: Luigi, Toad, Toadette, and Nabbit.
Part of the challenge is that Luigi is a more difficult character to control than Mario, and part of the challenge is that the entire game is rebalanced around being more difficult. Enemies act differently and appear in greater numbers. Platforms are in different places, or outright removed. Levels are designed to put challenge above all else.
In "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe," you're stomping on goombas and eating power-up mushrooms and always, always seeking out the next flagpole.
It's a pixel-perfect, 2D-style, classic Mario game with a ton of polish.
It plays like the memory you have of "Super Mario Bros." on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, albeit with far prettier visuals, more complex level design, and better controls.
Unbelievably, after 30 years of "Super Mario" games, "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe" still packs in plenty of incredibly impressive, delightful game design. Much of the game makes you feel clever, which is a testament to the subtlty of the game's developers. It's just difficult enough.
There are a few new additions you might not be ready for if you've never played the "New Super Mario Bros." series. Did you know that Mario is now regularly capable of wall jumps? Pretty much all the new gymnastics Mario learned from his 3D jaunt in "Super Mario 64" is now built into the 2D series as well, from ground pounds to wall jumps.
You can play "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe" with up to four players at once, which is exactly as chaotic as it sounds.
You're able to pick up and throw your fellow players, or jump off their heads, or steal power-ups out of their hands. Or you can all play carefully and delight in the challenge! Most likely of all, you can engage in some mixture of both — a lot of the fun of playing multiplayer "Super Mario Bros." games is the chaos.
Better still: Since the Switch has two Joy-Cons by default, you're able to easily play with at least one friend at any given time. And given the simplicity of the controls, the Joy-Cons feel surprisingly adequate for once.
As previously mentioned, each of the playable characters has their own feel. For instance: Mario is balanced, while Luigi jumps higher but is a bit more slippery to control. Toadette — the newest character — plays a bit like Princess Peach did in "Super Mario Bros. 2." And if you're playing with a child, or someone who's very inexperienced with Mario games, there's always Nabbit — he can't be hurt.
In addition to having four different characters to play each game's many levels, there are three large golden coins in each level to collect as bonus challenges. That's before we start talking about alternate level exits and secret parts of the map, and the squirrelly little character named Nabbit that must be chased down in order to win.
Put simply: There's a lot of "Super Mario Bros." here to play.
Unlike "Super Mario Odyssey" — which feels grandiose and deserving of a large, high-definition screen — "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe" is a game meant for bite-sized consumption.
Each level is compact, and it's incredibly easy to pick up and put down as need be. It's exactly the type of game that highlights the portable nature of the Nintendo Switch. There's no worry about remembering where you left off, because each level is so brief. And there's no worry about remembering complex game controls, because it's Super Mario — you definitely aren't forgetting these controls.
It's the kind of Nintendo Switch game that makes sense to buy digitally, because it's a great game to keep as a constant in your Switch library.
Aside from the addition of Toadette, "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe" is exactly the game that released in 2012 on the Wii U. If you played the game way back then, you probably don't need to spend too much time with it now.
There is, of course, the added bonus of being able to take it anywhere. And if you missed the "New Super Luigi U" remix, then this re-release may be worth it.
All that said: Buyer beware! Do not buy this expecting a bunch of new content. This is a direct repackaging of two existing Wii U games with a small addition in Toadette.