New Luigi U
Ok, so let’s face it, Mario games are a dime a dozen and the market has been FLOODED with the red capped, moustachioed tradesman recently and, for the most part, they are pretty good but there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing,” especially when there are sooooo many Nintendo properties that do not get the exposure they deserve *cough* Metroid *cough*. So when Nintendo proclaimed “2013 is the year of Luigi,” I have to admit, I kind of cringed. Luigi games. Luigi games? Really? It turns out that they’re only making 2 actual Luigi games and a bunch of other releases featuring Luigi (not that Luigi would’ve been excluded from these titles anyway but whatever). The first was Luigi’s Mansion 2 for the 3DS which was pretty sweet but the second announced title was Super Luigi U for the Wii U.
Essentially an add-on, Super Luigi U takes the levels from Super Mario Bros U and shortens them, adds a bunch more bad guys, takes away heaps of power ups, cuts your time down to 100 seconds from the typical 400 you usually get and puts Luigi as the main character you play as. With these changes, one would be excused for singing “What’s new pussycat” and the answer is “well, not much” but this does ramp the difficulty up pretty fierce.
First up, let’s talk about the real meat and potatoes of this dish: Luigi. Mario may have undergone a lot of changes over the years but the overall control has been kept relatively familiar. His acceleration, top speed, jump arc and hang time have stayed, pretty much, the same since Mario Bros 3 on the NES back in 1991 and since people love playing these games in 2 player mode, it’s only fair to have a mirror character for the other gamer so Luigi has had the same abilities all this time. Well, that idea has been chucked out the window and now Luigi is completely different to his spotlight hogging brother. His jump arc is higher and has a longer hangtime at the apex but it feels like he falls a bit faster and when he runs, he has a longer slide time to slow down or change direction. The first characteristic is pretty cool with a majority of the level changes being based around this mechanical difference but the latter is what will most likely kill you. Sliding off the end of platforms to your death when you’re trying to realign yourself for the next jump will hit the swear button many a time but it was obviously deliberate.
Almost everyone knows there was 2 different Mario Bros 2 games back in the day. 1 was only released in Japan, the other the rest of the world. The Japanese one would eventually be released in the west as “the lost levels” and it was harder than fossilized shit but it had 2 modes: Mario game and Luigi game. The Mario game had the same physics and character control as the original Super Mario Bros game but the Luigi game had a faster top speed and a higher jump which made pinpointing your jumps quite difficult. Sound familiar?
The levels start out as just cut down versions of the ones from Mario U which feels a bit cheap but once you get to the 3rd world, the levels use the same basic layout but the enemy placement forces you to jump in just the right spot, at the right speed to get to where you’re going. Also, forget the old mushroom power ups, most of the time they will get in the way with you risking peril just to get them. After a while, I found myself boycotting them unless they were at the start of the level in a really easy spot, since death comes swiftly when you plummet to your doom. The levels are quite short since you only have the before mentioned 100 seconds and that keeps the pace very frantic and dangerous. Maybe those dull levels at the start are there to let you rack up some extra lives? Makes sense, now I think about it.
The only other addition is the multiplayer character Nabbit, a character that popped up in New Mario Bros U that you had to catch before the end of the level. Here, he acts as the “noob’s” character. He doesn’t take damage from enemies. Other than that, he’s a mirror of Luigi’s abilities and is only there for multiplaying with infant relatives or non-gaming girlfriends or boyfriends to keep the peace with the veteran gamer at the helm.
New Luigi U is a good add-on if you’ve finished New Mario Bros U and want a bit more of a challenge. However, the way Nintendo is flogging it as a completely new title does feel like they’re missing the point, though it is nice that they’re releasing it as both a download from the eShop and as a disc if you don’t have the internet option. However, with the scarily skinny range of games for the Wii U, this makes you question why Nintendo are using their time making re-skins rather than making a whole new game. All in all, New Luigi U is just as fun as New Mario Bros U but far more frustrating and just proves that Nintendo can’t help but rip themselves off, even from a game that came out 6 months prior.