It’s time to re-visit the high definition world of the Mushroom Kingdom to celebrate Luigi’s 25th anniversary in New Super Luigi U, a quirky platformer that is available via download or as a physical disc for a limited time.
New Super Luigi U is actually designed as a downloadable add-on to Wii U launch title New Super Mario Bros. U but has been made available as a standalone title in limited quantities worldwide. The game, as a downloadable title, is unique as instead of merely giving you a few new levels to play through, it transforms every level that was in New Super Mario Bros. U into a new “Luigi” version.
Because of this, the games’ story is identical to the original with a couple of minor changes. Firstly, Mario is absent when Princess Peach calls Luigi and the Toad gang over for some tea and cake in her palace. Without warning, Bowser and his team of misfits show up however instead of kidnapping the princess, he throws Luigi to the other side of the Mushroom Kingdom.
He, along with his Toad friends — and a new companion called Nabbit — must travel the world to reach the castle and rid the kingdom of the Koopalings and ultimately save the princess.
These new levels, of which there are more than 80, are actually incredibly difficult. Your surprise will be forgiven when you learn the game has a “Game Over” screen, a feature that most players with moderate skill might’ve missed through the original Mario flavoured play-through.
Levels are also somewhat shorter, but this is justified by the fact that you will constantly fail and be charged with re-playing the first few seconds over and over until you master the stage. To make the action even more frantic, you will have only 100 seconds to complete each stage before time runs out.
To add to your woes, Luigi’s movements in New Super Luigi U are different to what you will be used to with Mario. Luigi can jump higher, hover slightly in the air and has less traction. This is all by design, though, and while Luigi may feel more difficult to control than Mario, his movements still feel solid and eventually reliable.
The series is known for its excellent level design and even though the stages are roughly half the size of the original game, there is plenty to explore in terms of hidden areas and short cuts. The Star Coins have returned and can be extremely tricky to find which, in typical Super Mario fashion, adds much value in terms of replayablity. Nintendo have added new assets to the game world, too, so many levels look spectacular and never get dull or repetitive. These aren’t enhanced copies of the original levels, these have all be built from scratch specifically for this release.
By now, you may be somewhat turned off by the difficulty the game is promising. This would be a shame, however, as the entire point of New Super Luigi U is to give you a greater challenge than the original game. The challenge is what makes this game so fun, and if you bring your ‘patience cap’ along, you will have a blast.
Playing with friends in four-player mode is asking for trouble. The action is fun and frantic, and everything we’ve come to expect from multiplayer in the New Super Mario series. Nabbit is playable in this mode for the first time and has been designed to accomodate novice players.
Nabbit originally starred as an enemy who stole Toad’s favorite belongings. In New Super Luigi Bros. multiplayer, he is still an ‘enemy’ and does not take damage within levels. He is also unable to use powerups and can run faster than the other characters, though is still prone to falling down pitfalls. Nabbit is great for his intended players, though feels understandably cheap in the hands of a seasoned player.
One niggle veteren players will have is that boss fights are no more difficult to complete than the original game. They still require three hits, and still act in the same way they always have. You are also rewarded with a bonus 100 seconds when entering a boss fight, which really lowers the difficulty and quite questionably so. It can feel rather distracting considering the depth of the excellence in the other aspects of the game.
Also lacking is any new ‘Missions’ for the New Super Luigi U release. These are short objectives such as “reach the goal in 20 seconds” in specifically designed courses which appear in New Super Mario Bros. U. Including these might’ve brought the value of the game up and lengthened its longevity, however for those enjoying the game as a DLC add-on to New Super Mario Bros. U, you will find that new missions can be downloaded via SpotPass, should Nintendo ever decide to release any.
New Super Luigi U is hard to fault. This is Mushroom Kingdom-platforming at its finest and most difficult. The difficulty level will probably stand in the way of a good time for many, mainly younger Mario fans, but the short nature of the stages keeps them fun and exciting, and rarely do they become frustrating.