New Super Mario Bros. U is the second-best 2D Mario game. New Super Luigi U is an incredible showcase of inventive level design. They came out six and five years ago, respectively, though today you can play them on a public toilet.
Blessed with the opportunity to critically revisit games I have several years’ experience thinking about, I saw fit to make an unorthodox review which I believe benefits greatly from the video format. This review focuses on petty nitpicks of 2D Mario games in general, primarily pointing out examples in New Super Mario Bros. U. I strive to do so in a way that is at least entertaining. If you have neither the time nor the guts to watch a 36-minute video, I have provided the script below.
Also, you could read Jason Schreier’s review of New Super Mario Bros. U from back in 2012!
If you don’t have time for any of these options, know this: I love these two games and I am very glad to have them on my Nintendo Switch. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is available now and it costs $60.
Allow me to begin with A Controversial Statement:
2D Mario games are terrible.
Oh, sorry: I was just practicing my acting technique.
I love 2D Mario games as much as I love being negative. So on the occasion of Nintendo’s release of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch, please indulge me while I perform what for me constitutes a feat of Olympic-level mental gymnastics: nitpicking a 2D Super Mario game.
So here a we a go: 14 obnoxious annoyances I encountered while playing New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for Nintendo Switch!
There’s Not Enough New Stuff!
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe consists of the Wii U games New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U compressed into one handy package, now deliciously portable for the Nintendo Switch. New Super Mario Bros. U came out on the Nintendo Wii U literally six years ago, in November of 2012. New Super Luigi U came out five and a half years ago, in June of 2013. These are some crusty old games. You can buy the two-pack containing both New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U for just $29.99 pre-owned at Gamestop.
Of course, that’s the Wii U version. Unless you’re Kotaku Dot Com’s editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo, the Wii U isn’t exactly portable. So let’s go ahead and add a hypothetical Convenience Cost to this $29.99. How much is the convenience of being able to play this game on an airplane worth to you? Nintendo sent me the game before my holiday break, so I have the experience of playing it in an airport, and let me tell you: it sure is better than looking at Twitter! I’m going to say that’s worth $10.
In addition to the portability, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe adds a new playable character, Toadette. Toadette runs faster and stops shorter than any other character. Defying chemistry’s understanding of the nutritional value of fungus, Toadette can absorb a crown-like object and instantly become a humanoid body-snatching eldritch-horrible xerox-facsimile of Princess Peach. This “Peachette” can float gently if the player holds the jump button. If she falls in a pit, she bounces upward exactly once. She’s the “easier” mode for newer players. Meanwhile, Nabbit, who appeared in New Super Luigi U, now is available in New Super Mario Bros. U as well. Nabbit is intended for the least skilled of all Mario players. If Toadette is Easy Mode, Nabbit is Baby Mode.
I played through the whole game AND collected 100% of the Star Coins as Toadette, because I love new experiences about as much as I love 2D Mario games, and I gotta say: if she were being sold as DLC, I would have gone as high as $10.
I got this game for free, though I am weird enough that I probably would have paid $60 for it just so I could have an official 2D Mario game on my Nintendo Switch. I genuinely love New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe. It has some of the best level designs in the series history. Polygon Dot Com called it the best Mario game of all time! They were wrong. It’s still a great game, especially when you play two, three, or four-player mode. Unlike New Super Mario Bros. for Wii, in which bumping into your friends and accidentally killing them was as common as jumping onto a platform, New Super Mario Bros U’s level designs are always spacious enough to accommodate four players. I call this “Party-Time Level Design.” New Super Mario Bros. U is the *real* Mario Party.
Multiplayer New Super Mario Bros. U on a big television screen is a great time. On the other hand, I tried two-player New Super Mario Bros. U on the Nintendo Switch in portable mode and the very first camera zoom-out rendered Mario and Luigi indistinguishable from fleas.
At any rate, I played almost all of New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe alone, in portable mode, on airplanes, airport chairs, the New York subway, and a sofa in a dark, cold, corner of a huge office building, with the sound turned off. This sure put me in the perfect mood to elaborate on all of the game’s flaws!
In summary: there ain’t enough new stuff. I need at least a new world. And some DLC. And it’d be nice if that DLC was free.
“Is this Baby’s First Mario, or what?”
As we’ve said, Toadette is Easy Mode. Nabbit is Baby Mode. Both of them are optional. If you want to play the game exactly as its level designers intended, play as Mario. If you want an extra challenge, try Luigi. If you want to play as Toad, play as Toad. Except he’s not actually Toad. He’s Yellow Toad. I don’t know why he’s Yellow. Red Toad is busy elsewhere.
However, if you’re playing two players, one of you can be Mario. One can be Luigi. One can be Yellow Toad. Now one of you has to be Nabbit or Toadette. While Toadette *is* at least *interestingly* easy to use, she’s still an “easy” character. If the other three players are JERKS, they might LAUGH at you for being stuck with Toadette.
New Super Luigi U for the Nintendo Wii U forced player four to play as Nabbit, though it also featured a Blue Toad in addition to Yellow Toad. If only New Super Mario Bros. U for the Nintendo Switch had Blue Toad in it, four players of expert skill level would be able to play together! When we posted a video of this game back in December, a large number of comments cried out with this complaint. I have got to say, I agree.
Furthermore, the Super Guide is back. In case you don’t know the Super Guide: it debuted in New Super Mario Bros for Nintendo Wii. If you die multiple times, it shows up, to taunt you and shame you. Some say that if you jump up and hit it, Luigi will pop out and demonstrate the optimal path through a level. I, of course, have never hit it, nor should you. Every time it shows up, that means you just died enough times for a stupid video game to notice, and it’s laughing at you. Leave me alone, bro!
2D Mario Bosses Are Boring
2D Super Mario bosses are like doing paperwork. They’re a formality. If playing through a world is like reading a contract, complete with many perils such as “consulting a lawyer,” the bosses are like initialing each page. Okay, some of them are pretty good, though like, most of them are extremely dumb. It’s like, with an alarming majority of bosses I’m like “Yeah, I know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t want to, though, because it’s boring.”
When I was a triple-A game designer, I liked to pose a thought experiment called “The ‘I Get It’ Button.” This was before Sony made a “Share” button, so I think it was less funny then than it might be now.
The thought experiment goes like this: imagine there were a button on the controller labeled “I Get It.” Heck, imagine it’s right beneath where the “Share” button is on the PlayStation 4 controller. When you press this button, the game pauses, and asks you a trivia question. Like, right here, it would ask,
“How do you kill this boss?”
And you have to choose one of multiple choices. Then it asks a follow-up question such as “What then?” If you answer enough questions, it says, “Okay. You win.”
When play-testing a level or a boss or an encounter or any tiny shred or scrap of a video game you’re developing, keep The I Get It Button in mind. If any isolated encounter ever makes you wish for this button, fix your darn thing.
In 2D Mario games, boss fights function as little tiny cartoon character formality hangout tradition callbacks. We’re doing paperwork with cartoon characters we know, recognize, and possibly love, though it’s a formality. It feels less like going to Chuck E Cheese for my own birthday party and more like going to Chuck E Cheese for the birthday party of my mom’s friend’s son who brags about knowing exactly what foods will kill a dog.
Like, why is there no Shin Megami Tensei / Persona Demon Conversation mechanic in Mario games? Why can’t I just give Boom-Boom a 1up mushroom to make him go away? Those things are worth 100 gold coins. Boom-Boom is clearly an idiot who is susceptible to being ordered around. The Koopa underlings are obviously exploiting him and his big muscles. I feel sorry for the guy.
The Art Direction
When New Super Mario Bros came out for the Nintendo DS in 2006, I remarked to a colleague that “New Super Mario Bros looks like a Flash game.” The tides of time have tea-stained that insult. Today, in 2019, I revitalize my venom when I say that New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe looks like an Android-exclusive edutainment app. No offense to Android-exclusive edutainment apps. Some of my best friends make Android-exclusive edutainment apps.
I’ll admit that when I first hated on New Super Mario Bros’ art style, I was an employee at Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, and half-heartedly hating on Nintendo products was a bit of a running gag in the office. I mean, we all had Nintendo DSes. We all bought New Super Mario Bros. We all probably would have preferred pixel art, though you know what? Now almost thirteen years later, the New Super Mario art style has fermented into its own thing. It looks good. It looks exactly like what kind of game these games are: good, clean, simple, party-time fun.
Though every once in a while the art’s exuberance interferes with its legibility. Look at these beanstalk-leaf platforms here. Notice how the light evenly shades them. The “ground” layer within these platforms sits exactly on their midline. You can see a faint cleft. In the heat of running and jumping one might mistake the top of the leaf’s background portion for solid mass. This tricks even the expert’s eyeball repeatedly. I remember many years ago my buddy David Hellman, the artist of the backgrounds in the game Braid, describing a similar effect in the erratically sloping platforms in the game Earthworm Jim. Since then I’ve called this “The Earthworm Jim Effect.”
Sometimes I can’t tell where an enemy’s hitbox begins and ends. The pixel perfection of ancient Marios resulted in its platform challenges possessing the balance of an olympic sport. In New Super Mario Bros. U, sometimes my precision-hungry eyeballs cannot preconceive the survivability of crouching under enemies like these.
I applaud New Super Mario Bros. U’s enthusiasm in constantly presenting me platforms which dance with all the energy of the backgrounds of a Super Mario Bros. 3 overworld. Having said that, sometimes I cannot tell just from looking at a platform where its movement arc is going to end. Sometimes within the ecosystem of one level two noisy platforms which appear identical orbit their respective locations with different termination angles. What I’m saying is, sometimes two platforms that look exactly the same don’t do exactly the same thing, and that’s unclean and unfair. Like, in the case of these underwater stone statues: they rotate as you approach them, though no two of them rotates to the exact same degree. Ancient Mario games presented exclusively challenges that a hypothetical genius player could traverse on their first try. New Super Mario Bros U’s challenges do not exactly require foreknowledge of level layouts, though in their unpredictability they require a higher level of adaptability of the hypothetical genius player. Given the exuberance of the background graphics and enemy animations, I’m comfortable diagnosing this as an art direction problem.
Water Levels Are A Buzzkill
Nobody likes swimming! It’s like taking a bath AND working out—at the same time!
My buddy Brent Porter was saying earlier today that a game made up entirely out of Super Mario Swimming Levels could actually be pretty good. I immediately agreed.
That doesn’t mean they work in New Super Mario Bros. U. It’s perhaps the intention of the game’s director that the more slow-paced swimming levels punctuate the stretches of kinetic bliss that comprise the game’s drier challenges. Every several fast-paced jump gauntlets, to punish our inclination toward success, the game exiles us to a heck beneath the waves, in which we must momentarily struggle against dangers of nebulous geometry.
The levels are good in isolation. Some of them are even excellent. Mario level designers are some of the most angelic beings in existence; they excel with crafting challenges across all terrain. Yet never do these levels in the course of a rousing sequential playthrough NOT resound with a thundering buzz-kill.
Yoshi’s Too Quiet!
Yoshi is my dog, AND my best friend. Yet in this game he is strangely unexcited. Gone is the pleasant cartoon yelping exclamation that issued forth from his egg in Super Mario World. Also gone is the excited voice of Kazumi “KK Slider” Totaka, who voices Yoshi in various other games. Yoshi’s egg now cracks with an insignificant plinking. Yoshi’s excited grunt when performing his fluttery-footed extra-long double jump maneuver has vanished. Now all we hear is gentle squeaking and squirting. As I said, Yoshi is my dog, AND my best friend. I want my best friend to talk. I want my dog to bark. I also want to keep Yoshi across multiple levels, instead of abandoning him at the castle every time I complete a level-designer-approved Yoshi Zone. In summary, my buddy has grown up, and I haven’t.
[Note: this section is much, much different in the video. It’s my favorite section in the video. In it, I feature some voice clips I recorded, which I believe fit Yoshi’s personality in this game.]
Waiting Is Pain
My friend Bennett Foddy, maker of games such as QWOP and Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy, likes frustration about as much as he likes four-letter words and putting his name in the names of video games. Two years ago he wrote an essay about the “Eleven Flavors Of Frustration” he enjoys in game design.
My favorite flavor of frustration is missing a platform in a Super Mario game, and then having to wait for it. I know I messed up and mis-timed something in my run through the level. I know that I fudged my dedication to efficiency for probably one solitary second-fragment. And now I’m standing here, waiting for an elevator. When I look back at memories of loving Mario games, memories of mastering levels so that Mario arrives onto a platform exactly as it slides into place stand out sharply. It takes dedication to get that good at a Mario level.
This section of my review is written from the perspective of someone in the exact moment that they miss a platform for the first time, before they have learned to love it:
Mario games empower the player to run fast and free, to jump high and long, to kiss the sky, to kiss the clouds, and to kiss the sun. Mario games are the original parkour. So when a Mario game figuratively shrugs at you and says “Hey wait right there for a couple seconds lmao” it constitutes a denser insult than even I experienced in high school.
One of the two buttons in the very first Super Mario Bros. primarily executed a dash function. By pressing and releasing this button with skillful timing while running, the player could smoothly navigate each of the game’s obstacle gauntlets almost completely without ever stopping. Deep understanding of Mario’s various acceleration and deceleration states comprises a majority portion of a skilled player’s expertise.
When an obstacle or situation in a Mario game makes a player stop and wait, usually this feels like a defeat: maybe the player wasn’t moving quickly enough in the situation prior to the stoppage, throwing off the flow of the rest of the level. This makes the player feel like a rube. The invisible hand of the best level designers in video game history looms large.
However, sometimes a Mario game makes you stop simply because that’s the way the level is designed and, oops, there’s nothing you can do about it.
At their best, these stoppages take the form of tense moments in which the player awaits a necessary platform while negotiating for geometry against an unkillable enemy. Elsewhere, a stoppage may challenge us to enjoy suffering a mechanical difficulty while awaiting the optimal alignment of our escape route. At their most uninspired, moments of strategic waiting fall into the “Brawler Elevator” category, where we stand on a slowly vertically moving platform, contending with idiots who would punish us for not paying attention. At their worst, these stoppages see Mario standing at the center of a ring of stupid ghosts, waiting for a perfunctory gap in the circle of phantasms to arrive at an agreement with a platform of unpredictable patrol route.
At its absolute worst, Super Mario’s waiting game rots and festers deep within the philosophical core of the auto-scrolling stages.
Auto-scrolling stages originated in Super Mario Bros. 3. In Super Mario Bros. 3, most of the auto-scrolling stages are great. Over the next several installments in the 2D Mario series, the quality of these stages slowly diminished. In Super Mario Bros. 3, the slowest of the auto-scrolling stages always kept the player busy, usually with cannonballs and evil bullets—an endless stampede of stompable deadly obstacles. In this way, slow auto-scroll stages masterfully leveraged moments of tension and explosions of release.
The auto-scroll stages in New Super Mario Bros. games simply feel like handcuffs, like they’re insulting you, like they’re laughing at having taken your bountiful bouncing freedom away.
On the other hand, one of New Super Mario Bros. U’s best levels is an auto-scrolling level.
Every once in a while New Super Mario Bros U throws you a little overworld riddle or timing challenge. I faintly recall these causing loud raucous yelling matches when playing New Super Mario Bros U on a television with my great friends Doug and Julie Jones on New Year’s Eve 2012. The little riddles play out as quick-time concentration match games. Remember the randomly generated path, and then choose a Plinko drop location.
These are about as interesting as the yarn-unraveling puzzle on the back of a garden-variety Denny’s kids menu. If you mess up, you have to fight a tiny little one-room encounter for which you are, at least, rewarded with a power-up. I gotta say, though, as I scrub back and forth across the world map strip-mining Star Coins from levels I’d blazed through earlier in a kinetic fury, every time I slap a whammy I just wanna let my mans die. That was a Press Your Luck reference in the previous sentence, by the way.
I kinda wish I could just, like, give the Hammer Bro a 1up mushroom and he’d walk away. Then again, why are there 1up mushrooms in this game at all?
Extra Lives? In This Economy?
If you die in multiplayer mode of a New Super Mario Bros. game, your friends get a chance to revive you. In multiplayer mode, all players need to die in order for the game to reset players to a checkpoint. This constitutes a radical revision of the way Super Mario Bros. games handle extra lives. Except New Super Mario Bros still has extra lives.
New Super Mario Bros. U hands out extra lives like handy.
Maybe they should have done with extra lives what they did with pixel art? Like, Super Mario Odyssey does just fine without extra lives. If you die, you pay some coins. I’ve gotta say: anyone complaining that lack of a traditional “lives” mechanic makes the game “too easy” is a kind of a weirdo. And not even a fun weirdo: they’re sort of a boring weirdo. Like, if you complain that lack of a non-traditional extra lives mechanic makes a game quote-unquote “too easy,” what you’re really doing is exposing your insecurity: you require some metric to prove yourself marginally better than someone else, because you can’t prove that you personally can clear the entire game without taking a single hit. Like, would a professional speed-runner complain if the game didn’t have traditional extra lives? Would RED BULL ESPORTS’ GOLDEN BOY GRANDPOOBEAR complain if a new Mario game didn’t have extra lives? I sent him a DM on Twitter and, uh, it turns out he literally had just had a baby, so I didn’t ask him and instead let him continue hanging out with his baby. Congratulations on the baby GPB!
Like, if a level is so hard that you can’t beat its second half, does it even matter if there’s a checkpoint? Maybe they could remove the extra lives and then revamp the checkpoint mechanic. Like, maybe an extra try at a checkpoint costs you 100 coins. If you don’t have 100 coins, you have to start the whole level over. I’m not saying this is a final solution. I’m just saying it’s pretty good. This way, players get to see that number of coins going up for like a million years. That feels better than seeing a “99" at the top of the screen constantly.
If nothing else, wow, it sure takes a long time to respawn after you die. I timed it. It takes 18.9 button-mashing seconds from moment of impact to level restart. That’s a little bit too long by like 17.9 seconds! Hey Shigeru Miyamoto! Play Celeste! (I know Shigeru Miyamoto didn’t direct this game. I was going for name recognition. At any rate, being a member of the set “Everyone,” Shigeru Miyamoto should definitely play Celeste.)
Super Mario Bros. games walk the fine line between the visible and the invisible. On the one hand, when the first Super Mario Bros. game arrived in 1985, its dedication to legibility struck the adolescence of the video game design profession like a lightning bolt. Everything the player can see in Super Mario Bros. 1 behaves exactly the same way every time we encounter it.
Some obstacles begin hidden, drawing a bold line between what the player can always see and what the player sometimes has an opportunity to see. “Sometimes” is, of course, both the professional statistician and the master game designer’s favorite word. The Piranha Plant is the perfect example. Sometimes, a piranha plant lives inside a pipe. In this case, it pops up out of the pipe as Mario approaches, possibly biting him. Sometimes, a pipe lacks a piranha plant. A single encounter with a piranha plant plants wariness into the player’s method of approach to all successive pipe encounters.
On the other hand, world 1-1 of the first Super Mario Bros. game also contains a hidden 1up mushroom that appears out of nowhere if the upward arc of a player’s jump intersects what at first feels like a random location in the air. This might not happen until the tenth or eleventh time a new player re-plays this stage. Maybe a neighbor kid has to show this to you before you start doing it yourself.
Whatever your introduction, this surprise hidden object massages a strange compulsive mental location, one whose deepest dream begs the sufferer to probe every space and poke every place. Super Mario games do never disappoint this compulsion. Super Mario’s worlds abound in invisible coin blocks. The placement of these hidden pleasures requires delicate precision on the part of the level designer. In ancient times these blocks were few and cryptic. Today they hide in more gregarious frequency. Note the presence of a hidden fire flower before the door of every world’s boss. At this point, why hide the power-up? Video games often lie, and loudly. Lying is their strongest power. Nothing ignites the imagination like a shrill fabrication. However, not all lies are so dishonest as this little fiery flower.
As toes approach the line between dishonesty and disingenuity the level designer begins to take quiet liberties. We can walk through some walls in New Super Mario Bros. U, finding coins within. Usually we can see either an interruption in these walls or intuit the indication of surrounding obstacles. Eventually pass-throughable walls offer no visible symptom. The level designer has ventured beyond the pale in their responsible adult guardian relationship with the player.
I’m not afraid of the dark. I just don’t like it.
Now the level designers have via the baby steps of history acquired all the tools necessary for justifying their decision to turn out the lights.
I *hate* levels in video games where you’re in the dark. The only game that comes remotely close to getting it right is The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. It was once my job to prototype concepts for making darkness fun in a post-Gears of War 1, pre-Gears of War 2 triple-A third-person shooter made in Unreal Engine 3. I spent two months on the task. Mostly I just copied The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past. I was like, what if there were lamp objects you had to interact with during fights, and you could see them faintly in the darkness, and if you light them up it paralyzes nearby enemies for a few seconds before they run away to a dark place? It turns out that was too tricky to balance. What ended up in the game was some half-hearted version of Assassin’s Creed’s synchronization towers. Oh well.
They call them VIDEO games for a reason. You have to be able to SEE something on the screen. Therefore, you shouldn’t set video game levels in dark places, unless you’re making a horror game.
In the year 2018, on the Nintendo Switch, I have another reason to hate dark levels. The Nintendo Switch’s screen is so glossy that if I’m playing a dark area of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe in portable mode on my commute home, the subway lights are so bright that I can see my reflection in the screen. The last thing I want a video game to give me is the experience of looking myself in the eye after a long, actually exhausting day of literally playing Super Mario Bros. for a living at age thirty-nine. The human face look worse and worse in a low-angle reflection as one ages. I mean that literally. I also mean that figuratively.
Ghost Houses Suck
What I’m driving at is, Ghost Houses Suck.
Ghost Houses first arrived in the Super Mario series installment Super Mario World in 1990. Back in 1990, Ghost Houses showed us a plethora of playful possibilities for platform game levels where the rules broke themselves and logic didn’t do anybody any good. Today, if we look back at the first ghost houses, we see what we might call Proto-Puzzle-Platformer level design.
I place emphasis on the “proto.” Super Mario’s Ghost Houses, a puzzle platform stages, are simply no good at all.
Let me put it this way: if the Ghost Houses are your “favorite” levels of any Super Mario game, you are 10,000% a narc.
Mario games are at their best when Mario is running and jumping. Mario games are at their most mediocre when Mario mis-times his approach to an elevator platform and has to stand around waiting for it to come back down, without even a single enemy to keep him company. Super Mario games’ best levels are the ones where you read every level object as it feeds onto the screen like a player piano roll, giving unto your fingers the delight of a ragtime virtuoso. Super Mario games’ worst levels are the ones where nothing makes sense.
Ghost Houses don’t make sense. A good Mario level is like, “Run just quickly enough, jump with just enough grace, dodge this enemy, duck under this enemy, run off the ledge and land perfectly on this platform just as it slides into place.” Ghost Houses are like, “lol that door was actually a coin.” I hate it.
Let me give you a little inside baseball about the composition of this review. I played all the way through the game, noting my grievances as I did so. Then I boiled the list of grievances down to fourteen bullet points. Then I watched a 100% playthrough of the game on 2x speed, taking notes about which grievances came up in which levels. At the end of my viewing of the full game, I had composed a list of levels to play for video capture for my video. Then I wrote this script.
Ghost Houses show up in my notes as convenient perpetrators for almost every section of this list. Some of them feature swimming—in the dark. Most of them include platforms, obstacles, or enemies of visually nebulous collision geometry. One could defend them by saying they “break up the tedium” of the running and jumping levels, though that’s where I would argue that putting the game down and doing something else also breaks up the tedium of the running and jumping levels. Didn’t Nintendo, after all, pioneer the feature wherein a game intrudes to tell the player they should take a break?
For Mario, the tedium is the message. Running and jumping isn’t tedious. It’s what Mario is good at. Ghost Houses are not what Mario is good at. If I want a Ghost House, I’ll play Limbo again.
At the end of this exercise, I’ve come away thinking two things:
First, that the childish nonsense of ghost houses, by virtue of its contrast from the rest of the surrounding games, stands as a rich affirmation of the prowess of Super Mario’s level designers at producing straightforward gauntlets of excellent kinetic joy.
Second, that Super Mario Maker’s very existence is almost definitely Nintendo acknowledging that they don’t know how to make Mario into a puzzle platformer, that the idea intrigues them, and that they’d love to see millions of other people try and succeed.
When Nintendo fans saw the first trailer for New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch, we freaked the heck out upon our first glimpse of the Super Crown. This object could turn Toadette into a Princess Peach-Toadperson hybrid. Between ponderings of the true nature of humanity, our terrified imaginations found solace in the humorous idea that anyone could put on this crown and become a humanoid princess—even Bowser. Thus Bowsette became the biggest meme of 2018. Despite the press’ begs, Nintendo refused to comment on quote-unquote “internet posts.” As the game’s release impended, the official website for New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe described the Super Crown as just for Toadette. Their blurb included the words, “Sorry, Luigi.”
At any rate, within the game itself, the Super Crown doesn’t even appear unless Toadette is in play. And in a multiplayer game, only Toadette can pick it up. It shows up about as commonly as the Squirrel Acorn. Seeing as you can’t play as Bowser, the game offers the player no avenue to test the theory of Bowsette. In summary, Nintendo didn’t have to say anything. Just let people live, Nintendo.
Wonderful Mario Buddies
And that’s all I got! Should you buy New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch? Well, if you never played New Super Mario Bros. U for the Nintendo Wii U, or if you want to experience it again with friends—or Toadette—maybe it’s worth it to you. If you absolutely require an official 2D Mario game on your Nintendo Switch, here it is. If you’re just looking for a platform game and you’ve never played either this or Celeste, get Celeste. It’s $20 and it’s about ten times as good as this.
Like I said at the beginning of this review, even if Nintendo had not sent me the game for free, I probably would have paid $60 for it day one. Then I would have 100%’d it in several feverish hours, in portable mode, on my sofa, in the dark, late at night, with the sound off. As my sweat cooled I would have likely begun brainstorming a New New Super Mario Bros.
Like, New Super Mario Bros. debuted in 2006. That’s almost 13 years ago. I’ve heard several parents and grandparents refer to a four-year-old child as a “baby,” though a 12-year-old?
Is New Super Mario Bros. not too old to be “New” anymore?
I propose that Nintendo make a New New Super Mario Bros., with a new graphical style. Maybe bring back that hard-edged crayon look of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. Maybe make Mario out of yarn! No, wait, don’t make Mario out of yarn.
Maybe be bold and drop the “Super.” “Super” hasn’t been relevant since it was first used to indicate a difference from Regular Mario Bros. Will somebody please get this man a new adjective? How about “Ultra Mario Bros.”? Maybe, in the spirit of inclusivity, it could be “Wonderful Mario Buddies.” I like that!
This would be a perfect opportunity to go in a new musical direction, as well. Personally, I’m partial to classical guitar covers on YouTube of Super Mario Bros. 2 songs. I envision them maybe mixing that with some good ragtime piano. It’d be a lot better than the music that’s in there now.
Wow! That reminds me: I forgot to make fun of the music! It slipped my mind because I played this entire game in four airport chairs, two airplanes, a bed, and a sofa in this office, always with the sound off. If memory serves, the music in the New Super Mario Bros. games is better suited to playing out of a Bluetooth speaker inside a toilet at Teletubby Headquarters. If I had to suggest a better soundtrack, I’d go with something a little more like this:
[Here I play the Hilarious Music that I use at the end all my videos. It comes from a music service. It was the first search result for the keyword “stupid.” I have taken to calling it “Honktown Clownaround.” You really have to watch the video version of this review for this joke to land. I’m sorry. Trust me, it’s great in the video. If you’ve read this text first, though, you know it’s coming, and without the entire 37-minute buildup of much more somber music, it’s likely this joke won’t do it for you. I’m sorry.]