Nov 22nd, 2012

New Super Mario Bros U is easily the most anticipated Wii U launch game, and easily the one that has the most promise to live up to. And the game easily lives up to those promises, even if it’s not perfect nor as groundbreaking as previous Mario games.

The story in New Super Mario Bros U is very familiar: Bowser kidnaps Peach, and it’s up to Mario and friends to rescue her. This takes him through lots of game worlds and dozens of levels of all sorts, from underwater, to deserts, to everything in between. The world in New Super Mario Bros U is huge, to say the least. On top of the dozens of levels you’ll be playing throughout the game, there are even bonus levels that are unlocked at the end of the game, depending on how many star coins you collect throughout the game.

New Super Mario Bros U review
Multiplyer in New Super Mario Bros U is limited of offline, local only, but it supports up to 5 players who can play throughout the entire campaign. The fifth player controls the Wii U GamePad, which lets him help the others by giving boosts throughout the levels. Or he can try and sabotage the others as well. The GamePad player actually doesn’t control a character, he serves as an outside “spectator” who has certain abilities in the game.

There are other multiplayer modes, including competitive modes for those looking to play against someone, not with someone. But it’s clear that New Super Mario Bros U is a game you’d rather play with your friends rather than against.

New modes include Boost Mode, where you have to complete a level within a certain time frame, and many Challenge Modes, which feature their own dedicated mini-levels. Safe to say, there is a lot to do in New Super Mario Bros U, but the main singleplayer campaign easily overshadows all the other modes and levels and challenges.

The campaign mode features 8 difference game worlds, and to make sense of it all, the World Map is back in new Super Mario Bros U. And that’s not the only resemblance to Super Mario World. In fact, New Super Mario Bros U feels a lot like the classic 2D Mario games in not just the way you get around from map to map, but the overall feel, the atmosphere, the music — it all contributes to a very nostalgic feel, especially if you have played older Super Mario games.

New Super Mario Bros U levelsThe levels in the game range from the “meh”, to some truly innovative and creative ones. Some levels are very familiar, to the point where your first run-though is almost a speed-run, where you instinctively know that there’s nothing new here. This happens often in the beginning, where there doesn’t seem to be much new. But it gets a lot better. You’ll come across levels in the desert which are more interesting. Then you’ll get underwater where the game mechanics change a bit. Finally, there are levels that just blow you away, like a Van Gogh-inspired “Starry Night” level. In a sense, one wishes that Nintendo went the extra step and made every level as creative as possible, as we got a sense of the developers just taking the easy way out when it comes to some of the level design.

Which brings us to one area where New Super Mario Bros U could improve: the visuals. For the first time, we got a Mario game in HD, but despite that, the game is not that visually impressive. Part of this is due to the art design, but sometimes it feels like the game was made for the Wii and upscaled to the Wii U. The console is certainly capable of more, as fellow 2D games shows: look at Trine 2 and Rayman Legends and their gorgeous visuals and compare them to the New Super Mario Bros U. The difference is staggering.

While the game runs at HD (720p only) and at a steady 60 frames per second, more details, more effects would have done wonders for it. The environments don’t seem that detailed, but the character and enemy models are quite nice to look at while retaining that famous Nintendo-look.

New Super Mario Bros U review

Another area where New Super Mario Bros U doesn’t push the envelope is the soundtrack and audio effects. There’s nothing there we haven’t heard before. The soundtrack is very simplistic and the audio effects are some we have heard many times before. While it makes sense for Nintendo to stick with what works, they could have innovated more when it comes to visuals and audio, like they did with the masterful Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel.

Overall, the game will greatly satisfy Nintendo and Mario fans. While it’s not as perfect or innovative as previous Mario games, New Super Mario Bros U is still must-have launch title. There’s hours and hours of fun, especially when you have a friend to play with.

The good:

  • Wonderful gameplay, lots of worlds, many interesting game modes.
  • As charming as any Mario game, with just the right difficulty level. You never feel lost or stuck, and yet you’ll be challenged throughout the game.
  • Great GamePad integration, especially when it comes to multiplayer.

The bad:

  • The visuals aren’t really that impressive. Aside from the HD resolution (720p), the world doesn’t appear as rich and detailed as it could be.
  • Doesn’t really push the envelope or innovate like previous Mario games (Super Mario Galaxy, etc.).
  • No online multiplayer.

Final score: 8/10

Fore more on the game, check out our New Super Mario Bros U page, and join the game discussion on our forums.

local_offer    New Super Mario Bros U  Nintendo  wii u  
  • efren

    i have this game it is aweesommmme

    • onegreenbanana

      Share your nintendo ID with others!!!

    • Superstick

      I am so glad I chose Sonic and all stars racing over this. I’m not bashing this game or anything It’s just that sonic racing was a hell of a lot better when I heard the awesome ass fast pace music and the transforming vehicles. Besides I’ll go check this game out later. Can’t wait to use that fat pink soft bellied yoshi! 🙂

    • PenguinGames

      When I first saw your comment, I thought it said: “i hate this game it is aweesommmme” and was about to slaughter you.

  • Nitro

    How could a 2d mario game be as innovative as a 3d mario game?


      Super Mario 3…
      Super Mario World…

      • Bicentennial_Pidgeon

        Yeah, but then what? In 2d, your options are incredibly limited compared to in 3d. Mario 3, World, those pushed the envelope just because of hardware capabilities. Hardware increases can’t do much for 2d games anymore.

        • .

          Yeah but imagination can be increased. Current 2D Mario games are far from imaginative.

        • Irongear

          You’re wrong. Just take a look at a game called Sine Mora and see what good hardward can do for a 2D game.

          • nucima

            Mario & innovation are long ago…. But still a great game 🙂

          • Bicentennial_Pidgeon

            Oooh a shiny HD shooter. Tell me, how would YOU improve upon the Mario formula in 2d, with it still feeling like Mario?

  • Ultrasyd

    Thanks for the review ! So far, I’d like this game, Nintendoland, Trine 2, Rayman and Scribblenauts – Release only on 30th in Europe :/

  • Gman

    I got this game too and not 720p its 1080p I made sure I check

    • Mac

      it can be upscaled to 1080p but its native 720p. nintendo has already confirmed that

  • Leeroy

    Go Mario!

  • Linskarmo

    Great review. I won’t mind the not-too-impressive visuals, and I love the other games, so I still want it.

  • Nintedward-WiiU is 100% paid off.

    This was a very well written review. I am looking forward to this game , yes the visuals are a mixed bag and makes you wonder – was this game designed on some early wiiu dev kits ? probably yes….
    But some parts of the game are visualy beautifull.

    I can’t wait to pick this up with Nintendo Land , ZombiU , Blops 2!

    • Nintedward-WiiU is 100% paid off.

      Why does this game get a number score and Zombiu does not ? :S.
      I think I can safely say , that everyone prefers reviews with some sort of number score , so they can compare one game to another. 🙂

    • Just got my Wii U :D:D:D:D:D:D:D

      If you have any other preview CoD game, then you have BO2. Don’t waste your money on it. You could save it for a better gam.

      • Nintedward-WiiU is 100% paid off.

        I want black ops2 on my wiiu though :/ . And THE MAIN reason i want it is for that amazing dual screen multiplayer !!

      • RSBzero

        I have Black ops 2 on my U, it’s badass even though Nintendo land has way better graphics

        • Fireheart

          Although I agree with you RSBzero about being a great game; I can’t agree with you on Nintendo Lnad having better graphics. The graphics on the Wii U version are way better than the PS3 and 360 versions, and the multiplayer is just awesome. The graphics on Blops 2 are astounding.

          • marioravesto3d

            Full hd and sixty frames a second as ps3 and 360 are half the rez

      • revolution5268

        I have that game,i like the wii black ops and this i enjoy it. I hate mw3
        Worth it 60fps and 1080p on wii u.

  • I have a Wii U

    New Super Mario Bros U. is spectacular. Period.

    • Nintendonoob

      your name is making me cry… I cant find a Wii U anywhere

      • andrewjcole

        Try Toys R Us if you have any in your area. I got mine there when they were sold out everywhere.

  • Lazara The Last

    Great, I can’t wait ’til I get this game! NSMBU, ZombiU and Assassin’s Creed + a Delux Wii U has made this launch the second most awesome in the world. Than I invited my best friend, and that turned this to the most awesome launch EVER! A hole weekend with the Wii U :O

  • marioravesto3d

    As long as graphics are good and gameplay very good and can live with that.Super mario galaxy 3 is what I want to see the graphics much better ie and you what I think we will get it.

    • Nintendonoob

      email Nintendo about SMG3

  • Nintenjoe

    I think time will tell if the graphics on this game are poor. This simple cartoony style won’t get old as quick as fancy particle effects and 3d stuff. Just compare Mario World or Yoshi’s Island with Donkey Kong Country or Mario 64 with Majora’s Mask. The Mario games look nice still but the ones that were graphically superior back in the day look horrible.

  • Nintendonoob

    90% of my life is gonna be spent playing this

    • Nintedward-WiiU is 100% paid off.

      8% reading wiiu news. 2% going to the shops.

      • lakersfan

        You don’t even have to add a percent for eating or taking a dump ’cause you can do that while playing too! Lol

  • The Detonator

    good job rob! another solid review! keep em coming!!!!!!!

    • MY MOm!

      uhhh, i dont think this was written by rob bro.

    • lakersfan

      John Kinsley.

  • Klinjin

    I want another Super Mario World game. Wouldn’t mind another game of Super Mario Galaxy, just has to have better graphics and story-line. Story-line for the second game wasn’t that good. So better story-line and better graphics for Super Mario Galaxy 3= Win.

  • Mac

    i cant wait to get my wii u so i can get this game. its looks sooo awesome

  • GameNChick

    Great review. I’ve been playing this a little each night since I’m doing a playthrough for it on youtube(two areas done so far). Its still the fun mario we all know really and its pretty fun to beat a level without taking damage or beat a level in under 100 seconds and then post about it immediately to Miiverse, its very addicting and just adds another dimension of fun to the game play 🙂

  • killerkiwis

    wii u daily only cares about graphics. And why do you want to play online? Don’t you have anyone to play with? ahahahaha forever alone. And this is 2d mario game not 3ds so it can’t be so innovative.

    killerkiwis signing out

    • killerkiwis

      Idiots. I was defending this game if you didn’t notice. (stupid wii u daily people).

      • Checkitnow12

        Oh, god. Another retard.

      • Schizza

        ha ha… welcome to WiiU Daily, every comment down voted before it’s even read! lol

  • Gman

    Well it might not look 1080p but thats what it saids on my when press info it dont matter tho either way its a good game if you like mario get this game

  • verymetal

    Must have game!

  • Sylux

    I really think this game will be so much fun to play, I really want this one but yet another week for us eu-rs before we can go hands on on this and the other sweet stuff on wiiU. To kill time I’ll fetch New Super Mario Wii tomorrow or Saturday (yes, I don’t have it yet)

    For the next part I’ll get thumbs down probably, but I’ll take it like a man.
    As far as it goes for the 3D mario’s (Mario 64, Mario sunshine, Mario galaxy and Mario galaxy 2) they never did it for me I didn’t like the 3D mario’s strange, as I loved Zelda and Metroid in 3D but not mario. So I’m perfectly happy with the 2D versions like this. Thanks for the honest and fair review Rob. I know now that I’ll stick to the 2D games of Mario, even though it could have been a lot better but I know that I will definitely love this title 😀

    And for the 3D Mario, if one comes to Wiiu I’ll probably give it a shot.

  • Tobbe

    Heads up Nintendo. WiiU can now have homebrew! Dont belive me? Just trust me 🙂

    • Mr.Chimera573

      And you can get your Wii U bricked! Don’t believe me? It’s on this site.

      • Tobbe

        Indeed. Be carefull. I like to experiment and will likly brick untill iam done. Doesnt matter. Just more cash to nintendo

  • Bubba 3dsFC(3909-7565-3373)

    Gonna be the most played game I’ve ever spent when I get this

  • LP

    I understand there MUST be spacemfor improvement for the Wii U, we know things will get better, also gameplay is fabolous, that should contribute to the overall score, so pretty good, however, this might not be a 10 but a 9 or at least an 8.5 for sure, I agree with the rest.

  • WiiUlover

    I’m on world 7

    • WiiUlover

      3 star coins every level

      • killerkiwis

        i disliked your comment. did you know that i hate you? you can’t get star coins hahahaha i am the only person who can play this game. all others you suck. this is my game don’t touch it or i kill you all.

        • Yodin

          your an idiot all i can say…

  • Jim

    It’s nice to see an unbiased review on a Wii U dedicated site. The review could’ve been a little more critical, but it was good nonetheless.

  • Teves153

    No matter what happens (even if Nintendo stop trying) mario will be an awesome game

  • Bobed

    Great review, thanks.

  • ConCity Soldier

    It looks amazing to me. I don’t see how u can make a 2D look much better really, other then putting the game at a higher resolution anyways (1080p).

  • Gamecube U

    I want a Super Mario Sunshine 2 instead of Super Mario Galaxy 3. I will probably be thumbed down a lot for this, but I really disliked the Mario Galaxies especially the SMG 2.I will go as far as saying they are my least favorite Mario games in the main series..other than Super Mario Bros’ 2.(Not the Lost levels)

    • marioravesto3d

      Super mario galaxies favourite games of all time for me.But hey everyone as different opinions !

    • mojojojo888

      Wow, that’s depressing…not only are the SMG series some of the best in the Mario franchise, I find SMB 2 to be one of the most creative of the entire lot(especially going back and playing it now), and wouldn’t even mind if they rebooted it in the future, or just something creative like it that would give Mario a different feel…but hey, to each his own…

  • HyrulianUtopia

    Hey you guys who have a Wii U, can you recommend a few games for me.

  • samuDC

    I don’t want another mario galaxy game. The first one was great, but the second one was just to much of the same. I’d rather have a 3d mario open world game, or just one that takes place in the mushroom kingdom. The mushroom kingdom looked stunning in SMG1, so i want more of that.

    • Um

      Super mario 3dland was a 3d game in the mushroom kingdom.

  • Howie

    2D Mario Platformer that looks like the start of Galaxy 2! WANT WANT WANT

  • D2K

    I really doesn’t understand just exactly what people were expecting to see in terms of graphics from a game like this. Saying the visuals aren’t impressive and the levels are as rich as detailed as they could be doesn’t make any sense.

    Compared to what exactly? Are you measuring this up against previous installments of Mario? Are you measuring this up against other games of it’s kind? Or are you measuring this up against games that aren’t in this art style?

    From what I see, the visuals of this game look absolutely stunning. The crispness of the resolution is better than any game I’ve seen. If I were to compare the visuals of NSMBU to SMG unscaled to 1080p on the Dolphin EMU I would say that they look pretty much on-par with each other.

    Super Mario Galaxy 2 running in 1080p on Dolphin EMU

    New! Super Mario Bros. U

    People need to understand the difference between ‘art-style’ and ‘graphics’. With an art style such as this, you have not seen and aren’t going to see graphics better than on any other console because Nintendo is the only company creative enough and innovative enough to put graphics this far in this art style.

    To try and compare Rayman and Trine 2 to Mario is ridiculous because all three games have different art styles. All three games have things each other lack and none of those things take anything away from the overall experience of each game.

    People need to stop complaining about what a game doesn’t have and learn to appreciate and enjoy what it does have. If every game had everything done the exact same way it would be boring. I don’t need hyper-realism in a Mario game. Mario games NEVER had that, so why start now decades and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue later? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    The only thing that would have been relevant or useful in this review is if there was something wrong with the mechanics of the game and it was pointed out. There is none, at least that I have encountered.

    So what the game lacks online multiplayer. If not having that in a ‘Mario’ game is a hang up then I think you are asking for too much. Not too often a sequel to a game does “push the envelope” and for all intents and purposes this game is a spiritual sequel to New! Super Mario Bros. Wii. Not every single Mario game has done that, but with so many in the past having done so, I think Nintendo deserves a break.

    This won’t be the only Mario game on the Wii U so it’s not a big deal. Let’s just enjoy this game for what it is. There is nothing wrong with the visuals AT ALL, the game play is smooth and tight, the format and flow have a lot of nostalgia built it, and with DLC being a part of this game we will see more in the future.

    • What are U saying?

      You think Nintendo deserves a break because they don’t put much effort into 2D Mario anymore? That’s pathetic.

      Also, I think Rayman and Trine can be used as a comparison to show how bland Mario looks now. It doesn’t even have an art style, just over used character models from 2005.

      People actually need to be more critical of 2D Mario games because they aren’t going anywhere. People like you learn to accept everything, while people like me want a new, fresh experience in a sequel, not the same crap we’ve gotten over the course of 20 years.

      • What are U saying?

        Edit: Over the course of 20 years, no my mistake… I meant since 2005 since the New Super Mario Bros. started. That year new ended in 2D Mario games.

      • D2K

        You are welcome to have whatever opinion that you wish. It is pretty silly to compare two different games with two different art styles to downgrade another. I guess because Mario doesn’t have Halo 4 graphics it is a failure eh?

        Rayman has 2D cell-shaded style graphics.
        NSMBU has 2D low-poly rendered graphics.
        Trine 2 has high-poly rendered graphics.

        Since you choose to look at NSMBU as bland there is no reason to discuss this further. You haven’t pointed out any valid proof that it is ‘bland’ as you say, you are just choosing to look it is as such. That is fine. Won’t deter me from enjoying it any less.

  • allon

    Great score.I agree with everything!

  • dubYA

    Rayman looks great, but I actually think I prefer NSMBU’s visuals. There’s just something whimsical about the look of the game, and that’s coming from someone that thought the previous NSMB games looked a little too bland. They’ve really taken that style and evolved it into something that pleases the eye, especially the amazing backdrops!

    I haven’t beat the game, but I’ve played enough to reach the conclusion that this is easily the best 2D Mario since SMW (which I consider the pinnacle of traditional 2D Mario platforming). Don’t get me wrong. NSMB was competently made as were the sequels on Wii and 3DS, but they very rarely captured that old school Mario magic. As of now, I’ve only captured 35 flags, and already this game has given me more of those moments than the last three NSMB games combined. It’s awesome!

    I should really get back to playing it. 🙂

    • Wii Jew

      Preferring NSMB U’s visuals over is like preferring filet mignon over leftover steak from last week.

  • Yodin

    By John Kinsley
    The visuals aren’t really that impressive. Aside from the HD resolution (720p), the world doesn’t appear as rich and detailed as it could be.
    Doesn’t really push the envelope or innovate like previous Mario games (Super Mario Galaxy, etc.).

    I really have to disagree with John Kinsley that’s just his opinion the Game is AWESOME and don’t care what he says…the visuals are rich in details i am having a blast with any Mario games meant to be fun.

  • goginho

    Poor review. Again, people comparing 2D Mario games to 3D Mario games. It just doesn’t go like that, they are completely different types of games, aside form the fact that they both are platformers. Often enough I’ve heard or read, “not as innovative as 3D Mario games” ..well duh Einstein, it’s a game on it’s own. And as for the visuals, saying that they aren’t as detailed as they could be is pretty banal since it’s a Mario game, where the style is purposely simplistic.

    • Lazara The Last

      Yeah, the only thing they have in common is Mario!

    • D2K

      There you go again making sense. Expect a bunch of downvotes!! 🙂

      I agree. People are just not comfortable without showing some form of ingratitude for everything. I can’t but thinking that people were expecting Nintendo to release some super-realistic earth-shattering Mario game at launch and they got this and were disappointed.

      Who is to say that game still isn’t coming? Seriously.

  • Montrhuntr

    Really wish people would stop calling 3D side-scrolling games “2D”. There is a huge difference.

    • Montrhuntr

      Well… 2.5D I supose XD

  • ssb4 3dsFC 3007 8585 6950

    I see great potential. Hopfully it, weill se ll like hotc*kes on a cold, winter day

  • marioravesto3d

    Well I payed the zombie u pack of really pleased I did big demand in the uk.Thats to do with positive comments in america and game developers in general especially since the wii u been released.I will be buying this game as alot of reviews are positive.Keep up the good work wii u daily I will generally go by your reviews and official nintendo magazine here in the uk.

  • Tobbe

    I like to see a new gunsmoke, tiger heli, rygar, castlevania, kid icarus, xanadu, mega man, exitebike and more classic 8-bit games but in wii u format.

    • D2K

      Castlevania would be killer.

  • verymetal

    Its not Christmas without Mario.

  • Thegiursea

    You guys should review some of the indie games for the WiiU

    *hint* little inferno *hint*

  • nm_nintendo

    I didn’t like super mario galaxy, but I still enjoy new super mario brothers on the wii.

  • Yodin

    Also i compared between the 2 games the 480p and 720p does make a difference smoother on 720p.
    Aside from the HD resolution (720p), the world doesn’t appear as rich and detailed as it could be. Yeah right what he says it does appear rick and detail and the game is really fun to play i got both game the Wii and the Wii U i can see the difference i compared it. i give a 9.5/10 and you cannot compared that with other Mario games such a Galaxy they are different 2D vs 3D.

  • HotInEER

    I picked this up today and I don’t regret it one bit. Easily the best Mario game of all time, and the use of the tablet and the wii controller for 2 people playing is really fun and intense. Easily the funnest game I have played in a long time.

  • Mika

    I think it looks great and i will be so happy playing it finally next week.
    But although there is finally a world map again i miss the bunch of secrets on the map like in Super Mario World. You can decide to go to sparkling waters or the ice world first ok, but is there anything else like several secret levels like in SMW? Havent’ seen anything so far.

    I don’t really like the Rayman games. I just don’t like the game mechanics. It is too imprecise and slow for me. It looks nice but personally i don’t like the art style either.

    Mario with the art style of Rayman would be a total fail.
    It just does not match to Mario

  • Aaron

    Are you guys going to update the reviews tab on your site?